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Social Media—a tool to facilitate care, comfort, healing and celebration

Amid the bombardment of information and sometimes-polarizing effect of social media, Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Social Services Australia invited participants at a recent workshop to use technology “to help break down silos, to provide links to where you can find the space for silence, and for the deep and considered thinking.”
He was addressing more than 50 participants from across the Catholic social services and mission sector, who gathered at the Cardinal Knox Centre in East Melbourne on Wednesday 26 July to participate in a social media workshop.
Hosted by Catholic Social Services Victoria, the workshop provided a forum for exploring the effective use of social media in our mission work of advocacy, fundraising, events promotion and engagement, collaboration and networking and raising public awareness of advocacy issues.
Sharni Minett of Vinnies Victoria commenced the workshop sharing information about Vinnies’ use of Facebook in fundraising. Kathryn Kernohan of Jesuit Social Services followed, speaking about Twitter and advocacy. Ryan Sheales of Victorian Council of Social Service provided an analysis of social media platforms and which platform might best suit a particular need, while Anthony McMullen of Common Equity Housing Ltd shared the virtues of LinkedIn and social media within the context of Catholic Social Teaching.
Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO closed the workshop with both a challenging and heartening reflection on how social media can be used to communicate a universal message of mercy.
“If we are to be the users of social media, communicating a Gospel of mercy, could I suggest that you ask ‘What sort of interior space do we want to have ourselves and do we then want to be able to communicate as users of social media?’
“I think Pope Francis put it well in his message for world communications day last year when he said: ‘The encounter between communication and mercy will be fruitful to the degree that it generates a closeness which cares, comforts, heals, accompanies and celebrates’.
“The challenge I put to you as the users of the social media, especially your regular audience, is: Can they say here is someone in my space who is caring, comforting, healing, accompanying and celebrating? Pope Francis went on to say: ‘In a broken, fragmented and polarized world, to communicate with mercy means to help create a healthy, free and fraternal closeness between the children of God and all our brothers and sisters in the one human family’.”
Fr Frank encouraged participants to use social media confident that we have an actual and universal message of mercy to communicate, which is our message for the world. “Social media gives us boundless possibilities for this universal mission,” he said.
(1) Sharni Minett, Vinnies Victoria: Facebook presentation and Frank's story on YouTube
(2) Kathryn Kernohan, Jesuit Social Services: Twitter presentation
(3) Ryan Sheales, Victorian Council of Social Service's Social Media Presentation and link to "Quote Tweets" explained again with example.
(4) Anthony McMullen, Common Equity Housing Ltd: LinkedIn presentation
Watch the various recorded sessions of the Social Media workshop via Catholic Social Services Victoria's Facebook page, here (in the 'Video' section on our Facebook page. 

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