Prayer 2.0

Printed texts such as the Spiritual Exercises and the Holy Gospels themselves will always be central focal points of Ignatian spirituality, but Jesuits worldwide are embracing technology and using multiple digital platforms to connect with students, parishioners, alumni and friends.

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis challenges God’s people to better care for our natural resources, pointing out that even though everyday technological advances like the proliferation of text messaging can run the risk of isolating society, technology could also lead us to spiritual growth.

Prayer apps such as JesuitPrayer.org connect audiences with scripture and daily reflections offered by Jesuits coast to coast; Pope Francis is issuing a new prayer intention each month in the new Worldwide Prayer Network video series; and Jesuit vocations are thriving thanks in part to a dynamic website, JesuitVocations.org.

Tremendous numbers of friends of the Jesuits along the East Coast have responded to our popular websites and social media channels.

Since the fall of 2014, the followers of Jesuits East Facebook feed (shared by the Maryland and USA Northeast Province) have nearly doubled in number, gaining over 1,000 new followers just during the week of the Pope’s visit. In 2015, nearly 100,000 people read news and feature stories on the thriving websites of our two provinces. They reached out to Jesuits during times of need, found information on parishes and retreat ministries, and supported critical causes, such as emergency relief following the devastating typhoon that struck last March and badly damaged Jesuit works in Micronesia. The USA Northeast Province Twitter channel also experienced much growth over the last year.

“Jesuit media coast-to-coast has never been so efficiently shared and so thoroughly embraced,” said Mike Benigno, director of communications for the USA Northeast Province. “So many people––literally thousands each month––are turning to our websites to connect with the ministries of the Jesuits and to witness to the ways Jesuits and friends across our region are living out the Ignatian mission. In dynamic, colorful, and even beautiful ways, our web platforms are presenting not just news, but also the larger Ignatian context that underscores the importance of our Jesuit mission.”

 
Prayer cards like the one above were downloaded by more than 10,000 friends of the Jesuits last holiday season.
A new series of digital prayer cards released for the 2015 Thanksgiving and Christmas season featured Ignatian prayers in an easy-to-print format that was downloaded over 10,000 times regionally and viewed nationally by many others on the websites of schools and other provinces. Similar digital prayer graphics created by Mike Gabriele, director of communications for the Maryland Province, marked significant Feast Days throughout the calendar year and became viral sensations on Facebook, some garnering more than 30,000 digital views, or imprints.

“Many times it’s these simple prayer graphics and messages that visitors to our page tend to share on their own Facebook pages, thus helping us reach an even broader audience,” said Gabriele.

In the upcoming year, two new monthly web series’ focusing on Eco-spirituality and ways that the Ignatian mission has transformed the lives of religious and lay leaders throughout our provinces promise to continue drawing large audiences.

“From the outset, Ignatius called Jesuits––and, by extension, their lay colleagues––to go where the people are, and to be of this world and in this world,” said Benigno. “Jesuits will always continue that work, serving thousands of men, women and families in very tangible ways. But today, we’re also making great strides and having a lot of fun finding new ways to share Ignatian spirituality with our growing online audiences.”


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