By Carrie Gress
ATLANTA, Georgia, JUNE 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Catholics have a responsibility to use their creativity, knowledge and experience to bring more souls to Christ, says media executive Greg Willits.
Willits, the chief operations officer of the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN), is hosting the first Catholic New Media Celebration to be held in Atlanta on June 22, the day after the annual Eucharistic Congress conducted by the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
The event is a day of sharing the latest technologies and techniques used to creatively and effectively invite others to grow in the Catholic faith through new and modern ways, not only in parishes and dioceses, but throughout the whole world. “Our motto is, ‘Come for the Eucharistic Congress, stay for the Catholic New Media Celebration,'” Willits told ZENIT.
“It is amazing how much new media — such as podcasting, blogs and other technologies — have helped people grow in their faith and grow closer to God,” says Willits, who with his wife Jennifer created the popular “That Catholic Show” video series and also co-hosts the Rosary Army Catholic Podcast. “We want the Catholic New Media Celebration to be exactly that — a celebration of this technology for the people who use it, as well as for those who create it.”
When asked what motivated him to put this program together, Willits replied: “Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have encouraged the faithful to actively participate in the New Evangelization — of reaching out to the world for the sake of the Catholic Church. John Paul II called it a ‘great relaunching’ of evangelization, and even more recently at the 42nd World Communications Day, Benedict XVI specifically addressed the possibilities of new media and the Internet and how those areas are changing the face of communication, and moreover, right now is an awesome opportunity for us as Catholics to reshape those tools for the good of the Church.”
“On a more human and secular level, people love media,” Willits explained. “They love to be entertained, and we’re surrounded by different forms of media nearly 24 hours a day.”
“As Catholics,” he added, “we have a tremendous opportunity as well as a responsibility to use our combined knowledge, creativity, and experience with media to harness the power of these forms of communication and use them in reaching more souls for Christ. If we do not use these technologies, we risk losing more souls to a secular culture that is more than ready and capable of using them for other means.”
“The fruit from evangelizing through new media has been nothing short of astonishing,” Willits underlined. “From our Rosary Army Catholic Podcast alone, we receive constant feedback from audience members who are discovering greater excitement for the Catholic Church as a result of these efforts. We’ve received testimonies from countless converts and people who have come back to the Catholic Church as a result of what they’ve heard or seen on various Catholic podcasts, videos and blogs. The evidence of the Holy Spirit is overwhelming.”
“Another great thing about new media is that so much of it is exactly that — it’s new,” continued Willits. “New media such as Catholic blogs and podcasts provide an immediacy as well as an intimacy that is very attractive to people who are on individual journeys of faith. With so many different producers of Catholic content via new media. It is likely that everyone will find something to relate to that will help in growing closer to Jesus.”
Speakers for the event include Amy Welborn; Father Leo Patalinghug from “Grace Before Meals”; Jerry Usher from Catholic Answers Live; bloggers Mark Shea and Jeff Miller; Father Roderick Vonhögen of Catholic Insider and Daily Breakfast; and Lino Rulli from Sirius Satellite Catholic Channel.
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On the Net:
Catholic New Media Celebration: celebration.sqpn.com
YouTube video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAdcc3Z1_2s