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Catholics, the lines are open

If you had the opportunity to receive a phone call from your archbishop, would you pick up?

That’s the question the Archdiocese of Denver is asking as it launches a new opportunity for the faithful of northern Colorado to connect with Archbishop Samuel Aquila through live TeleForum events, a product of the locally based corporation Broadnet.

The first TeleForum in an upcoming series with the archbishop will feature a Christmas message, and will take place 7 p.m. Dec. 21. Titled “Enter the Mystery,” the free event will feature specific ways for Catholics to live the season of Christmas more intentionally. The phone call is open to everyone (see below for how to register).

The innovative technology will allow Archbishop Aquila, and potentially other archdiocesan leaders, to listen to and speak with thousands of event participants in real time. Those who connect on the call will have the opportunity to ask questions and leave feedback.

“The phone call gives the archbishop a real-time tool to spread a message to a large number of people in a very personal and human way,” said Karna Swanson, the executive director of communications for the archdiocese. “Additionally, the TeleForum is a way for any Catholic to feel engaged with the Church and it’s an opportunity to ask questions.”

Archbishop Aquila previously used the format in January 2013 to thank donors for their contributions to The New Harvest campaign that supports the archdiocese’s two seminaries. About 5,500 accepted the invitation to join in the call, ask questions and leave feedback to help organizers know “what they care about and why.”

“The Church has to be a community that feels two-way,” Steve Patterson, CEO of Broadnet and a parishioner of St. Mary Parish in Littleton told the Denver Catholic Register Nov. 21 from his Highlands Ranch office. “To build any audience, they have to feel like you understand them.”

Since the “average Catholic” does not have regular access to the archbishop, sometimes even to their own pastor, he said, TeleForum events can provide that access more easily. It allows the Church in northern Colorado another means to be “authentic, accessible and real” and a vehicle to be “really good at listening.”

Broadnet is donating the TeleForum technology to the archdiocese. Since the company’s inception in 2004, they have managed more than 14,000 telephone interactive events. Those calls have involved politicians and world leaders, teams from all major professional sports including the Denver Broncos and a number of faith-based organizations.

“If it’s true the most effective communication strategy is to reach people where they’re at, then at this moment in history it’s essential that the Church make serious efforts to reach people on their phones and mobile devices,” Swanson said.

“The Office of Communications is in the process of doing just that as we develop more tools to communicate the message of the archbishop to Catholics in new and different ways. The TeleForum technology is an exciting first step that fits in perfectly with our overall strategy and vision for communications,” she added.

Regarding the first event, Swanson said to “expect a personal message from the archbishop on his own encounter with Christ, and his desire for everyone in the archdiocese to have that same encounter.”

“The archbishop also wants to thank Catholics of northern Colorado for their dedicated service this year, and encourage them to continue working as intentional disciples of Our Lord, Jesus Christ,” she said. “And he will have the opportunity to personally wish everyone a merry Christmas.”

Swanson added that participants will also have an opportunity to leave the archbishop a Christmas greeting.

All Catholics are invited to sign up for the archbishop’s call by registering online at http://vekeo.buzz/sa.The call will last from 45 minutes to an hour. A recording of it will also be available on the website after Dec. 22.

ENTER THE MYSTERY
A live TeleForum event with Archbishop Aquila
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 21
What: Outbound telephone call to Catholics, followed by Q&A and time for feedback
Who: All Catholics are invited
How: For information to sign up, visit http://vekeo.buzz/sa 
Questions: Call 303-715-3230 or email info@archden.org

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