Saturday, 7 May 2011
A brief report on today's planning meeting for a "Guild" of Catholic bloggers
This will probably be a short post, as I will need time to calm down after the excitement and joy of today's bloggers' meeting! I met so many wonderful people this afternoon, who are such great witnesses to the Faith. It was also very moving for me to find out the lengths people had travelled to be at the "Guild" planning meeting, with some coming from the furthest Northern dioceses and others from the most Western parts of Wales! So, I would like to thank all those who managed to travel far and wide to discuss the pros and cons of having a group dedicated to the spiritual benefit of those who blog.
Here is a list of those who came to the Hinsley Room (Westminster Cathedral) today: Laurence England (That the bones you have crushed may thrill), Paul Priest (On the side of the angels), Simon Pickering (Our Way of Light), Stuart James (eChurch), Stephen Moseling (St Paul's Bookshop), Fr Samuel Medley SOLT (Medley Minute), Gregg Beaman (A Brief Encounter), Richard Collins (Linen on the Hedgerow), and Liz McKernan (representing Jane Mossendew's Thoughts form a Catholic Oasis). Afterwards, in the pub, we were joined by Mac McLernon (Mulier Fortis) and one or two others (who I won't mention here, as they might want to keep their anonymity).
The day itself started when I met Stuart James after the 10:30am Mass, and we got to know each other whilst looking around Westminster Cathedral. We bumped into Gregg whilst talking outside the St Patrick's Chapel, and arranged to meet him again after the 12:30pm Mass. In the meantime, I went off to the shops with Stuart, where we bought some supplies for the meeting - tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes, etc!
We made it to the Hinsley Room for just after 1:00pm, and many of the other bloggers arrived soon after that. Once we all sat round a table and chatted over coffees and teas, it really felt as if I was amongst my peers - at "home" so to speak. It was wonderful to meet these bloggers who have truly inspired me, and who have dedicated so much of their time and energy to defending the Catholic Church.
The agenda I had drafted soon went out of the window, as the meeting became an informal event. But, throughout it all, it seemed that we were being guided by the Holy Spirit. It was also important, I think, for us to spend time getting to know one another, especially as there were genuine concerns about the motives behind creating a "Guild of Catholic Bloggers". We therefore agreed that the finer details would be discussed online, or possibly at another face-to-face meeting - maybe in September.
So, what was discussed and proposed during this afternoon's meeting? Well, it was generally agreed that a group (not necessarily a "Guild") for the benefit of Catholic bloggers was a good idea. Many spoke about the isolation that bloggers feel, and how nice it is to come together in a very human way. It was also noted that it's good to meet other bloggers in the flesh and to discuss the joys and problems we encounter whilst blogging. I think that most, if not all, present wanted to be able to attend a Mass celebrated for bloggers, too, and that the idea of meeting up for workshops or discussion groups was also well received.
One or two proposed that instead of a formal "Guild" with membership fees and so on, we could start a blog run by members, with the primary aim of disseminating our Faith in a positive way. Secondary aims would inculde keeping in touch, working together and helping one another with various problems and issues relating to blogging / the new media. It was noted that we all have different gifts and talents, and could contribute at least one post per week to a Catholic Bloggers' Blog - ranging from liturgical issues and theological matters to personal testimonies and stories. This idea met with general approval, and enthusiasm. So, it was agreed that the main aim of such a blog would be to let other bloggers and Catholics know that they "are not alone". All Catholics and / or bloggers who feel isolated or who are struggling would be able to visit and find a friendly, personal and positive resource.
Of course, such a blog / group would need to be committed and faithful to the magisterium, and would strive to be a positive and charitable space. It would not engage in controversy, but would seek to defend the Church and witness to the joys of our Catholic faith. But individual members and bloggers would, of course, still be able to post controversial and / or independent opinions on their own blogs.
Fr Samuel Medley SOLT suggested that a guild / group of Catholic bloggers should follow the communio et progressio type model, and should encourage members to engage with each other on a human level. He offered to celebrate Masses for those Catholic bloggers who wanted to identify with such a group - Fr Tim Finigan has (informally) also offered to do the same.
It was agreed that a communal Catholic blog, where members share a password and make contributions to, could be a powerful tool of the new evangelisation. Many references were made to Pope Benedict XVI's backing of such ventures, and I managed to remember a few words from his message for the 44th World Communications' Day, in which he said: "Thanks to the new communications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, say once more: 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me' (Rev 3:20)."
Anyway, it's been quite a long day for me, and I am sure that I have failed to mention some important things from today's planning meeting. But, it was a good start to something which seems to be of God. We will now carry on planning and discussing via email, and hopefully will be able to meet up again for another face-to-face (blognic) type meeting. It also seems that, in the no too distant future, there will be a new Catholic bloggers' blog, with contributions from all faithful Catholic bloggers who want to contribute to a positive online Christian presence. It is also hoped that we'll have a Bloggers' Mass sometime before the end of the year - possibly sometime in September?
If anyone would like to join in the online discussion and debate, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some photos from the event should be appearing soon!