With apologies for the admittedly dreadful pun, I want to share with my regular readers that I have been invited to participate in this year’s Catholic New Media Conference (“CNMC”) in Boston. The conference will be held the weekend of October 19th, at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. Other announced speakers include writer, blogger, and Patheos’ Catholic portal editor Elizabeth Scalia, a.k.a. @TheAnchoress on Twitter; Jeff Young, the blogger/podcaster/radio host who goes by “The Catholic Foodie”; one of my regular co-hosts at the “Catholic Weekend” show, podcaster, blogger, and teacher-of-the-year extraordinaire Maria Johnson; and new media guru – er, Cardinal? – CEO and Founder of SQPN, our fearless leader Father Roderick Vonhögen.
The CNMC always sells out, and tickets are strictly limited. so if you are thinking about attending, don’t think too long. Seats are already going fast, with first preference given to Boston-area residents. Thus the sooner you register, for whatever level of participation you are interested in, the better. For those not able to attend the CNMC in person, SQPN is also offering you the chance to register for a “virtual ticket”, which will give you access to audio and materials from the conference even if you cannot make it there yourself.
I am really humbled to have been asked to participate at the CNMC, and look forward to finally meeting in person some of the people with whom I have gotten to know through social media. This is true particularly with respect to the people I have met through SQPN, back when I was simply a fanboy of the network, downloading podcasts, hanging out in chatrooms, or leaving feedback. I am also looking forward to learning from the experiences of those who work in new media, and what they see as the opportunities and pitfalls of these tools in the future.
Of course I do not engage in media creation for a living. Rather, it is something I engage in with free time I may have, away from my career and my home life. Whenever I am asked to do something for someone else, like write for a newspaper or make a media appearance, it always strikes me as somewhat improbable that I would be the person they turn to, when they are professionals who do what I do, and so much better, in new media.
Yet in discussion with an author friend the other day at brunch, she pointed out that the way one find’s one’s apostolate is not necessarily the same process by which one finds one’s career. Different aspects of who we are and what we are interested in, can come to the aid of someone else, whether in terms of providing them physical assistance, emotional encouragement, exposing them to information and ideas they may not be aware of, and so on. Thus, in an example which for obvious reasons I find rather inspiring, a businessman can manage his investments and projects all week, and then go be a superhero on the weekends for sick kids who need a bit of cheering up.
Regardless, whether you create new media or simply engage with it, the CNMC is a great way to get ideas, network, and share your experiences and questions with others who have similar interests to yours. I am honored to have been invited to participate, and I know both the practical and spiritual dimensions of what we Catholics do in new media are topics which all of us will be able to benefit from discussing together, and in-depth, as part of the New Evangelization to which Pope Benedict XVI called us. Hope to see many of you there!