Local pastors and church staff are dreaming of the day when they can share Christ’s message with their parishioners at the click of a button.
Their dreams are becoming a reality as the Archdiocese of Denver launched a new initiative to help parishes use the latest technology to communicate directly, and instantly, with their flock.
More than 100 priests and church staff attended a series of workshops—including one on Aug. 14—hosted by the Office of Communications to help parishes launch Flocknote, an email and texting communication tool.
“We’re interested in new ways to reach our parishioners,” said Father Robert Wedow, parochial vicar of St. Theresa Parish of Frederick, who attended the workshop. “We recognize the power of these (smartphone) devices. This has a lot more potential than I ever imagined.”
Surveys show that a large majority of Americans—about 85 percent of young adults and 71 percent of Hispanic adults—use a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. Flocknote is designed to help parishes meet their flock where they’re at—on their phones.
Some 33 parishes in the archdiocese already claimed their free Flocknote account in order to reach parishioners beyond its Sunday bulletin and pulpit announcements.
Matt Warner, founder and president of Flocknote, shared with attendees that Flocknote is not simply a communication tool, but a way to share the message of Christ.
“It’s not really about a tool, it’s about helping you do something meaningful,” he told the packed workshop held at the St. John Paul II Center in Denver. “Most parishes can’t reach half of the people in their pews on Sunday. At the end of the day this is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make that connection.”
The Office of Communications is giving every parish access to a permanently free Flocknote account to increase its ability to reach parishioners. Flocknote is just one of several digital communication tools offered to parishes as part of the office’s Denver Parish Connect initiative, a new effort to bring faithful together to pray, think and act as one Church.
Joshua Karabinos, associate director of marketing, works in tandem with David Hazen, associate director of digital services, to host the workshops and lead the initiative.
Karabinos said effective communication is increasingly important for faith communities.
“Effective communication has always been integral to all we do as faith-filled communities. In this new missionary era, it has a heightened importance,” Karabinos said. “The Office of Communications welcomes the opportunity to share with priests, parish staff and parishioners not only the reasons Flocknote has been so helpful but how it fits into a broader strategy for improving their ability to connect with their communities more intentionally.”
Flocknote has been an effective tool at Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Broomfield, said Mark Thomason, its director of faith formation. They’ve reached more parishioners by delivering messages—ranging from snow closures to messages from the archbishop—directly to parishioner’s email inboxes and cell phones.
“This is only to get you to get people to meet Jesus,” he said to others during the workshop.
Parishes are on the frontlines of communication with faithful and should be supported in its efforts, Warner said.
“You really want to help the parishes first,” Warner told the crowd. “That’s where the rubber meets the road. You guys are the ones that are ministering directly to the parishioners of the archdiocese. We’re really excited to start this project here.”
After the workshop, Father Joseph LaJoie, parochial vicar of St. Stephen Parish in Glenwood Springs, wrote that he hoped to launch Flocknote at the parish in September.
“I’m just very pumped up, encouraged and excited to get some ideas started,” he shared.
Did you know?
People check their mobile phones up to 150 times each day
Millennials outnumbered Baby Boomers for the first time in 2015
64 percent of American adults are smartphone owners
Adding video to your email gets 300 percent more clicks than text alone
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Pew Research Center, Wistia, kpcb.com
Parish priests and staff pose for a group photo with Office of Communications staff outside on the St. John Paul II Center campus. Photo by Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic