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TWEET Jun-13-2011 (500 words) xxxn
Tweet Catholic, flockNote.com unite Catholics online
By Sara Angle
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Social media is becoming an increasingly important part of everyday life in the United States and around the world and Catholics are finding ways to make a unique mark on the social media world.
"I think the church is catching on to using social media in bigger and bigger ways. The church has got some pretty big toes stuck into the water right now ... and I'm excited to see the splash that's coming in the next year or two," Matt Warner, creator of Tweet Catholic and author of FallibleBlogma.com, told Catholic News Service.
As a Catholic blogger, Warner has more than 17,000 readers, but it is his Tweet Catholic, www.tweetcatholic.com, that has brought Catholics together in the blogosphere.
Tweet Catholic was created in 2009 to connect Catholics already on Twitter so they can follow each other, share information and build the Catholic community on Twitter.
Warner explained that as Twitter became more and more popular, he noticed Catholics trying to connect and find each other through it. He set out to create a simple website that would put Catholics on Twitter in touch with one another.
"It's turned into a good starting point for a lot of new Catholics on Twitter to help them jump into the Twitter experience and find some great Catholics to follow and show them the power of Twitter," said Warner.
He thinks social media sites, like Twitter, provide a great opportunity for the church to engage and build relationships with people.
"Social media is not just a broadcast medium; it's a relationship medium. It lets the church listen to people in ways never before imaginable. It lets the church share the Gospel with people in new ways," explained Warner.
Warner's newest project is www.flockNote.com, a networking site that "approaches the communication challenges of a Catholic parish, diocese or organization," he told CNS.
FlockNote.com describes itself as "an online parish registration tool that gathers parishioner data, plugs them into your ministries and builds a system of distribution lists to communicate with them via email, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook and more."
Groups and individuals can register through the site to access bulletins, schedules, calendars, forms, invitations and polls. They also can leave feedback for their parish and link to other social media sites. Warner is marketing his new initiative as "the newest, innovative way for Catholics to share information."
Warner has been collaborating with others in the church to build his social media platform and is already seeing success in his work. He plans on launching new features for flockNote in July.
Warner believes the impact of social media on Catholicism can be grand, but will never replace "face time"; rather, it will enhance face-to-face relationships.
"We have the greatest message in the world," he said. "I can't wait to see the creative ways Catholics are going to share that message and build up the church using all of the amazing tools God has blessed us with."
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