Friday, February 1, 2013

Using Technology for "Good"

Dear Parishioners,

I must admit that I arrived kicking and screaming into the computer age.  When I first began teaching in a Catholic high school many years ago, I can remember quite forcefully telling the guidance secretary (at St. Joseph High School in Hammonton), “If you think that I’m going to spend most of my time in front of a computer, it ain’t happening!”  We were using an old Apple computer back then for scheduling—the one with the green letters on the black screen.

I still unequivocally advocate the importance of personal relationships and interpersonal communication.  I (albeit, sometimes hypocritically) get annoyed when people pay more attention to their phones than to the person(s) in the room.  However, I am resigned to the fact that our advanced technology is here to stay and we had all become better aware of what our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews already know.  

Can you believe that even our Holy Father now sends out Tweets on Twitter!  Who would have thought!

What does it all mean for this parish?  Our website ( has been updated so that various parish information, parish bulletins, forms, schedules, etc., are readily available.  (Incidentally, if you have any compliments, constructive criticisms or suggestions about the site, let me know.)  We also have a Facebook page.  If you “like” us on Facebook, information about St. Joseph’s will come automatically to your Facebook page.  I have a blog ( on which I post this column each week.  To date, it has been viewed approximately 40,000 times worldwide!

My Smartphone (an Android) is really an unbelievable mini-computer.  I have downloaded a few free apps which have proved quite helpful.  Catholic Droid is a resource library for the Catholic faith with the Bible, prayers, devotions, an examination of conscience, church teachings, etc. all at your fingertips!  iBrieviary allows me to pray the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) just about anywhere without having to carry the actual book around.  Laudate is a similar app to Catholic Droid and also has numerous Catholic resources.  Then there is (Immaculate Heart Radio) which can be downloaded to the phone (or viewed/listened to on the computer) to provide 24 hour Catholic radio and information.

If you want to view Catholic information on various computer websites, start with the Vatican website ( and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website (  Such official sites sponsored by the Church are the most accurate and reliable when it comes to official Church teaching as opposed to some individual’s (sometimes inaccurate) opinion of the matter.  Each diocese usually has a website—including our own (   EWTN (The Eternal Word Television Network) has been a pioneer in technology for years now, providing Catholic TV, radio and internet resources ( .

I could go on and on about the many places online to find information.  It’s best to bookmark particular places because unfiltered surfing the web or “Googling”—even in search of religious topics—sometimes leads one to unexpected and unwanted sites.

So if you see me in Church and I’m looking at my phone, don’t always assume that I’m answering a call, texting, surfing the web, or playing a game.  I might be, in fact, praying my Liturgy of the Hours, reading a Scripture passage, researching a homily, or sending a tweet back to the Holy Father!

Maybe I can be the first to invent an app to contact God directly!

(Oh, we already have something to do that.  It's called prayer).

Fr. Ed Namiotka

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