Bishop Kenneth Kearon with Canon Patrick Comerford at the launch of the website
PATRICK Comerford is determined to bring the Church of Ireland in Limerick up to speed in terms of new media.
And he is spearheading a first in diocesan terms with a new website designed to help priests and lay ministers, the first such diocesan
The new website, in a blog format, was launched by the Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe, the Right Revd Kenneth Kearon and the first posting suggests readings and hymns that could be used at Harvest Festival ceremonies in the different parishes.
Already, Canon Comerford says, he has received a couple of hundred hits since the website went up and he is very pleased with the response.
“It not just a website out there in the ether. It is helping people,” says the priest in charge of the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin group of parishes.
The website, he explains, is part of his work as director of continuing education in this diocese.
And he would be happy if other dioceses were to copy the template and example set by Limerick and Killaloe. There is resource material on the general Church of Ireland website, Canon Comerford explains, but it comes along with a lot of other material on other matters and can be difficult to access. This is straight to the point and even includes photographs that can be used by other ministers to illustrate their own newsletters.
However, for the former journalist and confirmed blogger, this is only the beginning. He plans to hold a training day for ministers and readers next month where the focus will be on using social media as well as traditional media. The topics, he explains, will include working with local radio stations, newspapers and the diocesan magazine as well as how to use social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and websites, in the parish. Producing parish newsletters and handouts will also be part of the agenda.
“I am bringing my social media interest and skills into helping and enabling the priests and readers of the diocese,” he says simply.
For him the day of the crumpled A4 newsletter to be picked up at the back of the church is gone. Using new media is about “finding people where they are rather than where we want them to be,” he believes.
It reaches out beyond the congregations attending services to a wider congregation and keeps them in touch with the church, he argues.
Age is not a barrier. “I am 65 and I am finding my age group, which is the average of most people attending services, are all using social media whether texting or Facebook.”
He puts his own sermons online on his personal patrickcomerford.com blog and also uses social media to remind people about services and the responses he gets come from a wider number of people than those attending Sunday service.
Moreover, the majority are using their mobile phones for this. So for example, a text can alert them to a sermon by Patrick and they can then read it for themselves.
The new website is https://cmelimerick.blogspot.ie/ and for more information Canon Comerford can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
His own blog, which contains a lot of material on local Limerick is at www.patrickcomerford.com