Sharing Religious Life, Liturgy, and the Pursuit of Happiness on the Web

Although religious communities of all shapes and sizes have been sharing their respective missions on the World Wide Web from the beginning of its popular availability, it seems the press persists in finding novelty in the phenomenon.

A recent story capturing media attention is the efforts of a 42-year-old Sister of Saint Clare utilizing Facebook and Skype to connect her aging, dwindling cloister of ten nuns in Sardinia to the wider world on the web. An editor at The Conversation, a relatively new e-journal collaborating with university professors, asked me to write a short article relating the present recruitment efforts with strategies of the past.

The basic premise of my essay:

… the nuns’ turn to cyberspace is only the latest chapter in a long history of religious orders’ using the best means of communication.

I go on to present the letter-writing practices of the earliest generation of Jesuits as a historical case study. My brief conclusion notes the blog site of current young American Jesuits (with a final nod back to the Sardinian sisters).

The editor for this short piece assigned me an 800 word count. Thus, there was so much more I wanted to say. Perhaps some Pray Tell participants might like to provide observations about religious communities (whether dioceses, parishes, schools, cloistered or apostolic orders and congregations) and the World Wide Web. Successes? Failures? Progress? Adjustments? Aptness to and effects upon religious communities themselves?

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