Religious congregation finds social media helps spread mission to many

WASHINGTON – The Society of the Holy Child Jesus is finding that the religious community’s new use of social media is bringing its mission to life for all kinds of audiences.

“YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media brings our mission to life in ways our printed materials cannot,” said Kim Cavallero, director of communications at the congregation’s American province.

“Our media is valuable because it allows us to connect to people on a personal level in ways that our postal community can’t provide,” she said in an interview from Rosemont, Pa.

The Society of the Holy Child Jesus is an international congregation of 400 sisters who provide a variety of educational, pastoral, social, legal and spiritual ministries in communities in the United States, Europe, South America and Africa.

Like many other Catholic religious orders and organizations, the sisters are becoming immersed in the social media trend as a new way to widen their scope and tell more people about their ministry.

Cavallero said that her younger staff inspired the congregation’s initiatives, beginning with making a Facebook page. “I originally thought, ‘Who has Facebook?’ But as I found out, many organizations utilize this tool, and Facebook, along with our other media, has provided a spiritual connection and growth for our community,” she said.

In April 2009, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus officially launched its Facebook page and joined Twitter. The congregation is now putting videos on YouTube and has a blog.

It posts video clips on Facebook and includes information on how individuals can follow the community not only on Facebook but also on Twitter and YouTube. Its blog at www.shcj.wordpress.com was launched last fall.

A detailed Facebook page presents thorough information about the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and provides more than 300 photos and 12 videos about the sisters’ ministries. The page has 550-plus fans who can interact by writing on “the wall” and receiving comments back.

The congregation hosts Facebook workshops locally to instruct its members on how they can be more involved in the social networking site and plans an online workshop for those who live outside the Philadelphia area.

According to Cavallero, the “strongest presence” in the audience for the congregation’s social media outlets is in the 55-plus age group, but about 40 percent of users are under age 34.

Cavallero is on the board of the National Communicators Network for Women Religious, a professional organization of personnel responsible for communication within the religious congregations of women.

Last October, she was a part of a panel at a conference about how church organizations can get involved in social media, and she noted that it was a success as a number of attendees took home what they learned to integrate into their church ministries.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.