CNMC 2011 and Beyond

My wife and I (and daughter) just returned from the 2011 CNMC in Kansas City. A huge thanks to Fr. Roderick and Steve Nelson and everyone who helped organize and put the event on. It was another outstanding experience and it was exciting to participate. This was the fourth annual CNMC and my third to attend. These were my favorite parts:

The People

The people I get to hang out with have always been my favorite parts of the CNMC. We gather in liturgy and prayer, in workshops, in group discussions and over notes, or tweets, a meal and a beer, and we chit-chat about two of the things we all love most: Our Church and New Media. It’s a good mix of old friends and new faces, business and pleasure, retreat and conference. And it’s really neat to put a handshake or a hug with an online avatar. It’s a perfect example in itself of the power of social networking, bringing people with a common mission together in ways never before. I also really enjoyed all of the presentations, especially Sr. Anne Flanagan’s (@nunblogger).

The perspectives

My next favorite part was probably the diverse set of perspectives one gets to hear from all of the participants at the CNMC. One of my particularly favorite parts was a discussion panel where a lot of the audience were able to participate and share their thoughts as well. It’s such a healthy process for each of us to hear how others perceive our common challenges in the Church. And to learn how others have overcome them or think they may be overcome. And all in union with the teachings of the Church, of course! It’s the necessary kind of back and forth that will keep us headed in the right direction. And it’s very catholic.

Sean Patrick Lovett

Mr. Lovett is the Director of Vatican Radio. He’s had 4 pope’s as bosses and has a very unique (and important) perspective on the use of media in the Church. Aside from very much enjoying his dynamic story telling (including personal stories involving popes and future saints), it was extremely refreshing to have a distinctly vatican perspective amidst the discussion at the CNMC this year. Of course, papal encyclicals and the like are always very present in the conversation, but to have a living and live voice join in was something special. And for me it made the vatican and us seem not quite so distant as we all work together to help the Church use media more effectively. It was also beneficial to hear some of the reasoning behind why the Vatican does (or doesn’t do) many things regarding new media.

A Bishop Tweeted about me

And not so much that he (Bishop Coyne) tweeted something I said, but that he was tweeting about everything going on at the conference. I’ve never seen a bishop live-tweet anything. Oh, and this was after he offered his personal hot-spot (via Twitter) to anyone still needing an internet connection. Nice, Bishop! It’s one of those things that, while simple in itself, marks a non-trivial and fairly significant milestone in new media utilization by those who happen to directly succeed from Jesus’ apostles. Archbishop Naumann was also in attendance! The support and participation of such bishops are so important and I thank them for it!

The Progress

In one of my presentations I highlighted how far we’ve come in a few short years in Catholic new media. I just wanted to emphasize that again. It’s amazing how many websites, apps, profiles and new media movements are here today that were either non-existent or completely unknown only 3 or so years ago. And it’s a credit to every one of the Catholics out there who have stepped out of their comfort zone and answered the call. But it’s also a credit to the CNMC, as I’ve seen a number of such things result directly from connections or ideas formed at a CNMC. That’s pretty cool. And every year we seem to get more and more eager “beginners” and more and more talented “experts” showing up at the event to see what it’s all about (and to contribute to the discussion in an important way).

CNMC 2012

...will be in Dallas, TX! Which is nice for me because I live very close by. But it’s nice for everyone else because there are a lot of really fired up Catholics ‘round these parts ready to join the party. It will also be jointly organized with the Catholic Marketing Network conference. Which I think is a great idea on so many levels.

I also think that such a partnership, along with the increasing diversity and volume of participants, will help open up more opportunities for workshops involving some specific Catholic new media niches. Like:

Social media for Catholic businesses

- I noticed a lot more Catholic business owners showing up this year, which is encouraging. Aside from helping them run their businesses more successfully, it might give way to some thinkTank, Silicon Valley, entrepreneurial evangelization type networking.

Catechesis and the new media

- Lots of catechists are wondering how to extend their passion and knowledge to teaching online. This could cover everything from personal catechetical blogs to some of the creative, outside the box opportunities we could employ using new media to teach classes, engage students and find creative ways to drive interested people to RCIA classes everywhere.

Laity-Clergy parternships

- Covering how we can recruit and leverage the leadership and talent sitting in our pews, as well as how we build and nurture the relationships necessary for an effective and fruitful partnership between the laity and our parish and diocesan leadership. This will be key to moving forward as a Church regarding our use of new media. We have a good example of this in the Austin diocese where the regional Austin Catholic New Media group is figuring out ways to work closely with the Diocese to help the Church. Speaking of regional Catholic new media groups…

How to create and run your own regional Catholic new media group in your diocese or state

- This could be one of the next key steps from an event like the CNMC…establishing regional networks of people who share our common interests and goals to collaborate and help their dioceses. And to do so year-round, carrying on the momentum of the CNMC in between the annual events.

Just a few ideas that popped into my head after all the discussions and excitement from the CNMC this past weekend. Would love to know what you all think?  And also, feel free to share your blog posts and other resources (in any way related to the CNMC 2011) in the comments below. I know I and many others would love to read them.  Hope to see the rest of you next year in Dallas for CNMC ‘12!

You can get a recap of all the CNMC11 tweets here and below are some of the great photos Scott Maentz (and probably some others) took during the event: