By Anne Marie Amacher
BETTENDORF – Reaching out to Catholics by utilizing various forms of technology is something all parishes should be doing, says Bob McGivern of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
He and fellow parishioner Greg Vens are doing just that for Lent — producing two video Lenten reflections each week that are e-mailed to parishioners and can also be viewed on the parish website.
“I’m excited about this,” said Colbie Andes, Lourdes Catholic School director of marketing and development. “Few parishioners step forward with ideas. Two from our parish did and Father (Tim Sheedy, the pastor) was excited to do it.”
Vens said he and McGivern met on a Christian Experience Weekend (CEW) a few years ago. Recently they were at another CEW event. “I mentioned to Bob that I like to make and edit videos,” Vens said.
“I had an idea for Lent,” McGivern said. Together they decided to offer a Lenten journey for other parishioners. McGivern talked with Fr. Sheedy and the parish’s deacons, all of whom gave their blessings to the project. McGivern writes the scripts with bullet points about various topics and the duo finds “disciples to star in the chapters.”
Vens videotapes and edits the segments. “For a three-minute video it takes about one-and-a-half hours to make. It’s a fair amount of work – more than I thought.” But the payoff is positive feedback, he noted.
“We’ve heard from people in Colorado, Missouri and California,” said Andes, noting that people appreciate having something to reflect on.
“I don’t go by the number of views,” McGivern said. “I go by the feedback of what they say.”
Vens posts each video on YouTube and sends the link to Andes who then sends it to parishioners and parents of students on his e-mail database. The parish website, http://lourdescatholic.com, also has a link under Lenten reflections. The videos posted so far cover Ash Wednesday, the first Friday of Lent, Catholic Relief Services (titled “Our Call” on the website) and St. Patrick’s Day.
Videos expected to be posted this week focus on adoration. Upcoming topics, which could change, include Stations of the Cross, reconciliation, how Lent changes Mass, and Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Holy Week videos also are a possibility. A review and thanks will be posted after Easter.
“This has been a great experiment,” McGivern said. “We hope other parishes are willing to try things as we did. Having a supportive pastor makes a difference.”
As for the future, “I don’t see us doing something weekly,” he added. “Maybe at some point we could look at events in the Church (or diocese) or Advent.”