By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Hoping to connect quickly and efficiently with a wide audience concerning the 9 Days for Life campaign, the Davenport Diocese turned to Facebook Live to broadcast a reflection by Bishop Martin Amos.
From his office at diocesan headquarters Jan. 23, the bishop delivered a heartfelt message on the gift of life and included a personal story about his friendship with the family of a young man with Down syndrome. Tony Forlini, diocesan webmaster and videographer, recorded the reflection for the diocese’s Facebook audience on his Smartphone.
While the live audience was small for the first-time event, Forlini said 765 people have viewed at least a portion of the recording on the diocesan Facebook page afterwards. A total of 1,700 people were reached, meaning that they saw the post on their Facebook feed.
The annual 9 Days for Life novena is a period of prayer focused on cherishing every person’s life as a gift from God. It is a project of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and surrounds the bishops’ Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.
The prayer event occurs Jan. 22, unless the date falls on a Sunday. This year, the Day for Prayer was celebrated Jan. 23.
The novena itself is the centerpiece of a prayer and action event that the bishops created to help bring an end of abortion. The novena also emphasizes the importance of respecting human life at every stage and circumstance.
“This human life of ours is our first gift from God — a precious gift we are called to care for and protect, a treasure hidden in a field; a pearl of great price,” Bishop Amos said.
“We need to rededicate ourselves to public information and education to deepen our understanding of the sanctity of human life and the humanity of unborn children, the moral evil of intentionally killing innocent human beings — whether in the beginning of life or at its end or any time in between.”
The importance of the day of prayer, and the realization that many people use social media, inspired diocesan Social Action Director Kent Ferris to look at different ways to connect with people throughout the Davenport Diocese.
“Recently, Facebook has become a popular venue for easy connection with events. We wanted to see if that would be a format that would allow us to connect relatively quickly and efficiently with folks.”
Ferris said he’d seen the video chats with Bishop Amos (and participated in one) that The Catholic Messenger records periodically. “We thought a similar setting might be one that would appear natural and also one that the bishop would be comfortable with. I think the Facebook Live event demonstrated that was the case.”
He encourages every parish with a Facebook page to “like” the diocesan Facebook page so that more people will be drawn to the resources that are available by way of Facebook.