“Sub” means under; “scribe” comes from the Latin (scribere), meaning to write. To sign ourselves to a particular principle or write our name under a certain document reflects what we hold to be important. Each of us subscribes to certain values, such as The American Way or to traditions of our family or Christian morality; as an American Catholic of Irish descent, I don’t mind scribing my name to things I uphold because of it. Subscriptions denote our tastes and interests. Whether art, music, loyalty to hometown teams, being true to our school or supporting a local newspaper or company magazine, or, in recent times, following friends on social media, we subscribe to many things in our daily experiences.
For centuries, the Catholic Church has submitted Spirituality Reports: a record of how many people subscribe to parish life, i.e., how many souls attend Mass, how many students attend religious school, how many baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc., were performed. It is supposed to illustrate the impact of a parish’s service and outreach. Though focused on worship and education, in some places the reports reference outreach through social service ministries, but they have not yet incorporated social media outreach—though after the past ten months of virtual Masses, online retreats, remote educational seminars, etc., they probably should. Marketing tools such as the web, email, and social media provide a tremendous boost to faith communities in our efforts to get and stay spiritually and sacramentally connected to people who can access church via their phone, tablet, or computer.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Saint Charles, like many parishes, has worked hard to improve online efforts and be innovative. One of the key tools we have is a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/stcharlesborromeoparishkansascity). It contains weekly virtual Masses, retreat series, and event and spotlight videos. Since June, we have grown our subscriber base to 650 and we frequently receive the highest number of views for Mass in our metro area. Over sixty percent of our views are coming from local and regional community searches; and reaching new community members is key to our growth and success. This is important because Google, the number-one web and search browser in the world, owns YouTube, which is the second most utilized search browser. The browsers give us this ability by employing a system called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which allows people to instantly search and find businesses, churches, products, and information from our digital devices.
One of the best ways for us to improve our outreach is by increasing our YouTube subscriber list. If we can reach 1,000 subscribers, we would receive a higher SEO ranking and web browser placement; this, in turn will offer us benefits to enhance our video quality, improve our community connection, and grant us the ability to place information and donation links to better promote church events, programs, and educational opportunities. You can help us do this by going to our channel and clicking the Subscribe button. There is no cost or further obligation on your part. Though I’m not much of a computer guy and never thought I’d use this sort of language or care much about virtual communications, the coronavirus pandemic has forced our church to stay connected and build community this way.
While millions of people have, unfortunately, unsubscribed from the Catholic Church in recent decades because of the sin and hypocrisy of many leaders, we are working hard to counter that. Pope Francis, like his recent predecessors, wants us to explore evangelization outreach in various and creative ways. Our relationship with God is crucial; our faith can elevate other aspects of living; and religion can play an important role in making all this happen. Thank you for helping us by subscribing to what we believe and by hitting the subscribe button so that we can strengthen our outreach.