Striking a chord with online videos

| Vincenzo Randazzo | September 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

Catholic Watchmen Video series screenshot

I think it’s fair to ask: Can an online video be an effective tool for evangelization?

To help answer that, let me tell you about Zeke.

I met Zeke, a young adult and new parishioner at my church, a few months ago after Mass, and we struck up a conversation that turned to some of our favorite Catholics on YouTube. We both knew all of the online-Catholic-talking heads. Bishop Barron, Father Schmitz, Matt Fradd, Dr. Taylor Marshall and others.

We chatted for a while about the saints, the Mass, virtue — very Catholic things. With all of the Catholic knowledge Zeke had, I assumed he was raised Catholic. It wasn’t until I learned of his excitement for his confirmation coming up this Easter that I understood he was a recent convert. I said, “You mean, you know all of this stuff but you’re not Catholic yet?” “I have been learning about the Church online for years!” he said.

Which brings me to the Catholic Watchmen, and our hope and expectations for our fourth annual release of seven videos, each released the first of the month from September through April at thecatholicwatchmen.com. (We take a December break.) This year’s series consists of testimony or teaching on the threefold office of Christ — priest, prophet and king — and how these same roles should be lived by Catholic men.

We have seven awesome speakers, including Father Mike Schmitz, Jeff Cavins, Matt Birk and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens.

VIDEO SERIESThe Catholic Watchmen is releasing seven online videos this year of testimony or teaching on the threefold office of Christ — priest, prophet and king — and living those roles as Catholic men. The videos will be released at TheCatholicWatchmen.com on the first day of seven months:

September: Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, introduction to the threefold office of Christ

October: Father Rocky Hoffman, Man as Priest, The Common Priesthood of the Faithful

November: Jeff Cavins, Man as Prophet, Prophecy in Scripture

December: Break

January: Father Michael Schmitz, Man as King, Being a King in Daily Life

February: Mark Houck, Man as Priest, the Priest of your Family

March: Ryan O’Hara, Man as Prophet, the Gift of Prophecy

April: Matt Birk, Man as King, Testimony of Kingship in the Family

But again, are online videos an effective way to evangelize? I think they can be more effective than we realize. And unfolding Zeke’s story illustrates the point.

That day after Mass, Zeke started telling me of his conversion from evangelicalism, to indifference, and back again to embracing faith, but this time as a Catholic. His story involved many chapters, mission trips in Africa, prayer in Central America, debates with Lutherans in Europe, and discussions with his evangelical friends at university. He spoke of a difficult break-up, of difficulties in his family, forgiveness, redemption.

The common thread in his story, however, was that he would often listen to podcasts or YouTube videos from different online evangelists to inspire him in his faith. He would listen to debates about religion while doing the dishes, or an inspiring talk while exercising. He would watch them to relax after work, getting them from friends who wanted his opinion.

He told a great story, and he concluded with — “and thanks to the Holy Spirit, here I am.”

But when was the decision point to become Catholic? When I asked him, he stopped and thought. Then he said, unemotionally and matter-of-factly, that after listening to many Catholics online for many years, eventually, after watching a Father Schmitz video titled “The hour that will change your life,” he just knew he had to join the Church.

God spoke to Zeke in a consistent whisper, through the content Zeke was listening to. At first, it was many different Christian online creators, but as time went on he was listening to Catholics more and more.

So, one might say, Zeke joined the Church because of some YouTube videos. It’s kind of funny, but it’s appropriate, isn’t it? After further thought, I recognized how profoundly the New Evangelization is affecting people via new media. God is indeed using the internet. People are becoming curious about our faith, convinced by arguments, and in some cases, joining the Church. This might be the greatest benefit of the information age!

We certainly need to limit our exposure to new media — all things in moderation. But I encourage all Catholics to take the example of Zeke. Watch some good Catholic content. Check out some of the short videos produced by The Catholic Watchmen.

This year’s videos are bound to help us understand our calling as men of Christ, and they are good tools to use to evangelize others. Watch them, and send them to people you know who need to listen to something positive. And perhaps, like Zeke, they will eventually make that decision to become holier, perhaps without really knowing it themselves.

Randazzo, a member of All Saints in Minneapolis, is an evangelization manager in the Office of Evangelization. He can be reached at randazzov@archspm.org. Learn about the archdiocese’s Catholic Watchmen initiative at thecatholicwatchmen.com.

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Category: Catholic Watchmen