Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Tweet Me in St. Louis"

“Tweet Me in St. Louis”

Catholic Communicators Hold Annual Conference in the Gateway City

2016 CMC’s program features the Old Cathedral
of St. Louis at the foot of the Gateway Arch.
(Catholic Press Assn.)
Approximately 350 Catholic journalists, editors, directors of communications, broadcasters, financial and advertising officers, vendors, and speakers converged on the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark from May 31 to June 3 to upgrade various skills, hear inspiring messages about their ministry, gather information, network with each other, and have a good time at the 2016 Catholic Media Conference.

The CMC’s planning committee couldn’t resist promoting the convention with the wordplay at the head of this story.

I, of course, had to shoot the cathedral and Arch from ground level!
The CMC is the annual joint meeting of the Catholic Press Association of the U.S. and Canada and the Catholic Academy of Communications Professionals. This year’s conference took place in the shadow of St. Louis’s famed Gateway Arch, a block from Busch Stadium (hence the hotel’s name) in one direction and, in the other direction, from the Old County Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was heard in 1846, and two blocks from the archdiocese’s Old Cathedral of St. Louis.

So close to the ballpark, the hotel had vintage photos of the Cardinals all over the main floor (unfortunately lacking IDs), and this collection honoring the Cardinal of all Cardinals:

Not sure why that's right over the entrance to the bar; maybe that's where it gets seen by more people than anywhere else! (For non-baseball fans: it's Stan Musial.)

I stayed, instead, at the Missouri Athletic Club--very nice hotel in addition to club facilities (which I didn't have time to use)--about 7 blocks from the Hilton. That gave me at least 2 short walks every day, right down one of St. Louis's main drags, Broadway: past the Federal Reserve Bank, various businesses (very few eateries tho), and the Old Courthouse, with terrific views of the Arch from about 3 blocks away. This shot, however, comes from a long block farther away. The construction site (which was across the street from the convention hotel) is a public park being redone; beyond it are the Old Courthouse and the Arch.

The Salesians were represented by your humble blogger, editor of E-Service (a member organization of the CPA) and Hannah Gregory of Salesian Missions/ (also a CPA member). Although we’ve worked together online for more than six years, especially during the Haiti earthquake crisis in January 2010, this was the first time that Hannah and I actually met each other.

Hannah Gregory at the Salesian Missions booth.
As is customary with the CMC, the night before the official opening was a social event, in this case an outing to the City Museum,

a slightly weird and definitely eclectic collection of St. Louis architecture, archeology, arcana, and nostalgia that also functions as a huge indoor and outdoor playground for young people—which evidently also includes Catholic journalists! It was fun to see so many of them in a second childhood.

Catholic journalists at work?

Architectural remnants inside the museum.
More seriously, the first full day of the CMC (Wednesday, June 1) offered a series of day-long “master camps” for writers, editors, advertising personnel, designers, communications officers, and reporters. I took part in one titled “Parables, Profiles and Facebook Posts: The Infallible Truths of Effective Writing.”

The “master camp” on more effective writing.
Days 2-3 (June 2-3) presented numerous educational sessions that covered writing, editing, photography, film, design, audience-targeting, media literacy, marketing, podcasting and other platforms, budgeting, archiving, staying Catholic, and more. There were also business meetings of the CPA and Catholic Academy members and roundtable discussions for communicators, editors, advertisers, and regional groups (someone suggested that I claim “dual citizenship” in both East and Midwest regions; I went to the Midwest Region and met up with Tom Dermody, editor the Catholic Post of the Peoria Diocese, which will be my new home).

Hannah Gregory manned a booth for Salesian Missions and worked hard to attract followers for MissionNewswire. Other booths were set up by such diverse organizations as the Knights of Columbus, EWTN and other media, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic News Service, and various tourism agencies.

The main speakers of the conference were Michael O’Neill, “the Miracle Hunter” and a Mariologist, who spoke particularly about Marian devotion and apparitions; Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vt., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Communications and one of the first blogging bishops, who updated principles of Catholic media practice that he first laid out in an earlier CMC address (Indianapolis, 2012); and Sr. Helena Burns, FSP, who spoke about responsible use of social media.

Michael O’Neill commenting on the development of devotion
to the Virgin Mary at Wednesday’s luncheon.

Bishop Chris Coyne of Burlington, Vt.
“Bishop Coyne urged the journalists and communication leaders to follow the example of St. Therese of Lisieux, who saw every task as a chance to make the love of God more concrete. With this in mind, he said every news story, video, blog post, tweet, email or response to an online comment can ‘become an opportunity to manifest God’s love.’” (Carol Zimmermann, CNS)

Sr. Helena, a movie reviewer, filmmaker, speaker on media literacy and theology of the body, urged three places where Smartphones should never be used: Mass, meals, and the master bedroom. Pay attention to the people in front of you! Be master (or mistress) of your social media and not their slave.
Sr. Helena Burns summarized
her PowerPoint talk this way.

Each full day of the CMC included celebration of the Eucharist, twice at old St. Louis Cathedral (1834) and once at the new (1914) cathedral celebrated by Archbishop Robert Carlson. After the latter, a docent explained the magnificent Byzantine-style mosaics, and the attendees had time to explore the nave and side chapels. In addition, a prayer room was available for about ten hours daily in the hotel meeting area.

The “new” St. Louis Cathedral.

On June 2, the CPA’s Bishop John England Award for the defense of religious freedom was presented to Greg Erlandson, former president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor and now a consultor with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. The award citation noted: “In its editorial positions, [OSV] publications have taken measured and balanced positions in favor of the rights of the church, its institutions and every American, Catholic and non-Catholic, to act according to closely-held beliefs in God and what is right without impinging upon the rights of others to act in a free society.”

On June 3, the CPA’s “top prize,” the St. Francis de Sales Award for outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism, was given to freelance journalist Maria de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda “for her dedication to Catholic media for more than 30 years, and for telling the human side of many of the tough social and political issues facing our state, Church and nation.”

Maria Scaperlanda with her “Frannie.”
An honorary “Frannie” was also presented via Skype to Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who usually attends the CMC in person, for his long-standing support for Catholic journalism and all forms of communications.

The Catholic Academy presented its President’s Medallion posthumously to Mother Angelica Rizzo in recognition of her lifetime of spreading the Gospel through the media, relying completely upon Divine Providence for the means of doing so.

The 2016 CMC concluded on Friday evening with the CPA’s awards banquet, recognizing the members’ and member organizations’ outstanding work in the last year in newspapers: reporting, editorial writing, opinion writing, artwork, design, advertising, general excellence, etc.; and in books: fiction, non-fiction, theology, spirituality, Scripture, ministry, family life, etc.

Next year’s CMC will be held at Laval University in Quebec, June 21-23, in partial conjunction with the SIGNIS World Congress (June 18-21).

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