Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Tuesday 27 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Vincent de Paul
Aleteia logo
Art & Culture
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Take a free master class from these successful Catholic social media influencers

Zelda Caldwell - published on 04/19/22

These popular New Media personalities share their faith with millions of people. A new video series showcases their experiences and strategies for effective evangelizing.

For every new skill one might wish to acquire, there’s an online class taught by a well-known person willing to share his or her hard-won expertise — for a price. 

Now a group of Catholic educators and evangelists are launching a free master class on how to effectively use social media to invite people into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The University of St. Thomas Houston in cooperation with Word on Fire Institute has released the first video of a new series featuring successful Catholic social media influencers. This master class, titled “The New Evangelization and New Media,” will showcase Catholics who have attracted a significant following sharing the joy of Gospel through digital media.

The first episode will feature former America’s Top Model contestant Leah Darrow, who left behind a modeling career upon converting to Catholicism. Using Facebook and other digital platforms, she has connected with thousands of young women inspired by her story. 

Future episodes in the series will cover social platforms with a wide range of audiences, including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and the gaming platform Twitch. Among the influencers to be featured in subsequent episodes are gamer Jonathan “BeardedBlevins” Blevins, Australian singer-songwriter and YouTuber Fr. Rob Galea, and mom-blogger and Word on Fire Fellow Haley Stewart.

Who is this series for?

Dr. Richard Ludwick, President of UST Houston, explained to Aleteia that since  influencers operate on different social media platforms, which cater to different demographic groups, evangelizing using social media is something that is open to all Catholics — not just young ones.

“We hope all Catholics will find an episode to both identify with and take them a bit out of their comfort zone. We want our older Catholics who may engage on Facebook to see the value of posting with the Good News in mind and also to see why it’s important for young people to engage on platforms like Twitch to evangelize to a group who may not hear the word of God often,” he said.

With so many people on social media every day, “the New Media” are a tremendous opportunity for evangelization, according to the producers of the series.

“Even if someone isn’t specifically on social media, they have a friend who is telling them about something they saw on social media. The reach is endless,” said Ludwick.

“From lapsed Catholics, to atheists, to active Catholics not living in right relationship with the Church, to extremely devout Catholics giving their life in mission, to all Christians and other religious traditions,” he said.

How do influencers reach the “nones”?

With as many as 30% of Americans self-identifying as “nones,” unaffiliated with any religious group, Catholic evangelizers have their work cut out for them. 

When asked how someone who doesn’t consider themselves particularly religious would end up following a Catholic social media influencer, Ludwick explained that the successful ones attract followers because of their interests, not simply because of their faith.

“They essentially talk and entertain their audience while not shying away from any faith questions that come up in their chat. Each of these influencers are effective because they desire to be fully who God created them to be and love their core interests. This is what draws their audience. Once you see their content, you see that it’s integrated deeply with a pure Catholic message that is a part of all they do,” said Ludwick.

As an example, he said Darrow, the former model, who has over 79,000 followers on Facebook, “speaks about true beauty and what that means. Young women will identify with her message for more than just a spiritual reason. She gets right to the heart of the culture with her content.”

Author Haley Stewart, who will be featured in an upcoming episode, attracts a group of followers who might have landed on her Instagram page (over 17,000 followers) because they were attracted by her writing, enjoy her Word on Fire book club, and relate to posts about her family life.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Haley Stewart (@haleycarrots)

A younger, predominately male demographic might stumble across Jonathan Blevins, a Catholic influencer with a faith-filled message that he shares on Twitch, a gaming platform. 

Blevins “operates in a space traditionally used only for gaming. Twitch now reaches people who care about crafting, barbecue, woodworking – you name it! He streams while playing Fortnite, a video game, and people watch him and his friends play for hours,” explained Ludwick.

The creators of “The New Evangelization and New Media” series hope that the videos will encourage people to try to do what these Catholic influencers do.

“I hope people understand that all of your content doesn’t have to be strictly spiritual or faithful. It will all be spirit-filled and Holy Spirit led if you do it with joy, authenticity and righteousness. Whether you’re a homeschool mom, a personal trainer, a scientist, or an artist – you can reach that group of people in a particular way that Christ has called you to,” said Ludvick.

“We hope that everyone who views these videos watches with a sense of solidarity and pride in how Catholics are reaching out and sharing their lives on social media. If someone has an inclination to do what these influencers do, we hope this is the encouragement they need to jump in and get started,” Ludwick told us.

Successes and failures

Social media is not without its challenges, and can get ugly, even among Catholics. The video series promises to share both the successes and failures the Catholic influencers have experienced.

As an example, take the experience of Blevins, known as “BeardedBlevins” on Twitch, where he has over 46,000 followers. Ludvick said that the influencer “has seen people decide to come back to Mass literally while playing a video game.” 

“He’s also had his moderators have to remove people from his stream who were saying offensive or hateful things,” said Ludwick. 

“We try things, make mistakes, and we ask for our Catholic community to have grace with our influencers who are doing their best to share the Gospel online. My hat goes off to them for their bravery, vulnerability and magnanimity. We need more people doing the same,” he added.

To register for the video series, visit the Max Studios website.

Tags:
Social MediaSpiritualityTechnology
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

jour1_V2.gif
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Entrust your prayer intentions to our network of monasteries


Top 10
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.