September 30 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Spreading the word via social media

An innovative group from Holy Family parish in Mossend is taking the faith online, AMANDA CONNELLY writes

IN an increasingly secularised world, where social media, smartphones and the internet so often take precedence over the spiritual for many, particularly young people, it’s easy to see why Pope Francis has called for responsible usage of social media, and encouraged young people at this year’s World Youth Day celebrations in Krakow to take time out from their gadgets and ‘couch potato’ lifestyles. In such a world of polarities, it could be difficult to imagine a harmonious relationship between faith and social media.

Enter Sancta Familia Media, the rising new  group attached to Holy Family Church, Mossend, who have amassed a huge online following only nine months after they first started their project.

Run by John Mallon, Megan Curran,  Rebecca McFarlane, Brian Timmons and Thomas Mallon, the group is managed solely by young people, and started out as simply a factual Facebook page for their own parish, before quickly evolving into something much more. “It’s an opportunity to show a positive image of the Church,” John Mallon said. “Social media is often quite anti-Catholic.”

Named for the Latin translation of their home parish of Holy Family, the group have their own specially designed logo—a cloud representing their presence on the internet, a cross as a sign of their Catholic faith and three beads representing both the Holy Trinity and Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the Holy Family.

The group has come a long way from its humble beginnings last year, when they were kindly given a studio room to work from by Fr James Grant, parish priest at Holy Family Church.

Sancta Familia Media has grown exponentially—something the group say they ‘can’t quite believe.’

Attracting thousands of followers from across the world—including people from Iraq, Ireland, Australia, and America—and now doing media coverage on a wide variety of events across the diocese, Scotland and beyond, it’s been somewhat of a snowball effect that’s given the group the opportunity to share the Church’s news and faith with those it may not have so easily accessed otherwise.

With an increasing number of young people drawing back from the Church and becoming more engrossed in the technological, social media-oriented culture we see in today’s world, Sancta Familia Media offer a new route for young people to engage with the Church in a way that’s familiar to them.

“We’re seeing a lot of young people who wouldn’t want to go to church, but can see it on their phone and on social network,” John Mallon said. “People message the page quite a lot, people who have been away from the Church for years.”

“Young people use social media— that’s where they go to find breaking news. It’s about engagement. Lots of websites are good for storing videos and archives, but not interaction. Social media is good for debate and discussion.”

It is this innovative use of social media to share the message and news from within the Church that helps give Sancta Familia Media its fresh appeal across a varied audience.

Tapping into some of the most popular social media trends such as Throwback Thursdays, the group are able to share photos and footage from the church archives and the history of the Church in Scotland, as well as coming up with some of their own regular features such as Why Wednesdays, a slot that explains small snippets of the Catholic Faith to viewers, and Dash Around the Diocese, featuring coverage from different events happening within Motherwell’s Catholic community.

Producing Catholic-based content of parish announcements, reactions and coverage to national and international Catholic news, live videos of events, drone footage, interviews and short videos created on a regular basis for their many followers, the group’s schedule is by no means lacking—in fact, they seem to be always on the move, picking up the latest Catholic news for their dedicated audience.

However, despite the hard work the group put in and their long hours of editing and producing, the response from followers makes the effort worthwhile.

“It’s very fulfilling to see the community and church and diocese and wider national community coming together,” said John Mallon.

The group have had the opportunity to report on a number of events both local and international, the biggest to date being their extensive coverage on this year’s World Youth Day events in Krakow, Poland, showcasing the adventures of the Scottish contingent’s pilgrimage to their many Facebook followers back home. “A lot of people said the coverage was poor,” John, speaking of the mainstream media’s reporting of the World Youth Day events, said.

However Sancta Familia Media ensured that its own coverage of the goings-on in Poland were well documented, capturing the vibrant atmosphere with the thousands of young people gathered there in the Polish city.

The group created daily videos with interviews and footage from the trip, often sitting up until the early hours creating content for their many followers to enjoy at home, and had the wonderful opportunity to meet with other young people from across Scotland and all around the world.

After the social media success of their World Youth Day footage and updates, Sancta Familia Media have no plans to slow down. They are now selling a DVD of their World Youth Day footage, and plan to continue spreading the Faith and Catholic news across their social media platforms.

Having also recently bought a drone, John Mallon said the group hopes to continue to improve the quality of their content by getting better microphones and cameras, and that they want to look at the history of Carfin Lourdes Grotto, do more interviews and continue their regular coverage of local events.

With the obvious success of Sancta Familia Media in such a short space of time, it is clear the group is continuing to go from strength to strength in their sharing of Christ through the medium of technology, something that is perhaps much needed in today’s world.

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