"We are losing our attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation and thus we no longer manage to interpret within it what Benedict XVI calls 'the rhythm of the love-story between God and man.'"
+ Pope Francis
Promoting Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and Proclaiming the Good News on Social Media and the Internet
Our mission at the Saint Kateri Conservation Center is to promote Catholic faith, ecology, and life. Our programs include social media education and outreach, an online Catholic ecology library, Saint Kateri Habitat Program, Indigenous Peoples Program, and a Catholic land trust.
The center is staffed by volunteers Kat Hoenke and Ronnie O’Brien and myself. Kat and I are professional ecologists, and Ronnie is an educator and farmer who works with Indigenous Peoples. Our board of directors features a variety of professional ecologists, environmentalists, conservationists, and educators.
Since our founding in 2000, we have recognized the value of the internet and social media for reaching the most people possible on a limited budget.
We started online with a Catholic ecology library 21 years ago, sharing authentic Catholic teaching on ecology. This teaching was much more difficult to find in the late 1990s and early 2000s than it is today. We have a search engine in the library that allows users to search quotes and statements from the Bible, saints, popes, and other faithful sources kept in one place.
We have nearly 30,000 followers on social media, which is good but not nearly enough, especially as compared to secular social media. The good news is that the number of our followers continues to grow.
Here we offer some tips for building a strong Catholic social media following:
- Each post should reflect your mission, vision, and values. Stay focused.
- Give people something of value, for example: faith, hope, love, inspiration, goodness, beauty, information, and knowledge.
- Post frequently, several times a day, every day.
- Be consistent and reliable.
- Always follow back as appropriate.
- Keep your list of followers “clean,” meaning weed out (e.g., block) followers who are spamming, scamming, selling something, or spreading something in opposition to Catholic teaching.
- Recognize every comment with a like, love (heart), or care. This takes a lot of time.
- Help people to be Catholic and to act on being Catholic. (The destruction of our environment is fundamentally a moral and religious issue. Jesus offers the path to follow.)
- Focus on religion and God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, otherwise we are just another secular group.
- Promote Catholic saints.
- Give people opportunities to do good, beginning at home and in their parish communities.
- Do not just “preach to the choir.” Reach people of varied viewpoints. The Church is for everyone.
- Instagram tends to be more popular with young people than Facebook.
- Consider adding social media sites such as Parler. MeWe, Gab, Tumblr, YouTube, Tik Tok, and LinkedIn. Tik Tok is especially popular with a younger audience.
- Encourage people to recognize God present and active throughout all of creation.
- Help people to know, love, and respect their neighbors, including their other-than-human neighbors (plants, animals, and “non-living” creatures).
- Include people who are excluded, especially Indigenous Peoples who lived on the land before us.
Our website features a blog where guests can share their stories, for example, stories from sisters of religious orders who are conserving their land.
Consider other forms of internet social communities, for example, we have 1,400 participants on iNaturalist. iNaturalist is a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. Our citizen scientists have recorded 2,700 species since 2020. Recently we have expanded the project to include several other conservation sites stewarded by Catholics.
We have an online Saint Kateri Habitat GIS mapper where Catholics share their home, parish, and institutional habitat stories and images with other Catholics. Since 2019, we have registered 170 Saint Kateri Habitats in eight countries. Social media has been instrumental in promoting this and our other programs.
Bill Jacobs is the founder and director of the St. Kateri Conservation Center.
About the Blog
Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.