The Diocese of Burlington has a bishop who is known as "the blogging bishop," and Most Holy Trinity Parish in Barton, Orleans and Irasburg has its own blogging pastor.
Father Timothy Naples likes to write – especially about Scripture – and he has another outlet for his words: his blog.
"I write," he said simply, explaining his desire to blog.
Located on Blogspot, the blog includes the pastor's Holy Thursday homily, 10 reasons to have a marriage blessed by the Catholic Church and a 9,300-word post about Jesus' parables that he had published also as a booklet. "The tradition of the Church is we have the Scriptures which are divinely inspired, and the Church's job is to interpret them, and the job of the priest is to explain them to the people," Father Naples said.
A self-described "slight introvert," he said he is more at ease speaking publically after thinking and writing about his topic.
So although blogging helps him articulate his thoughts, the blog is more in depth for readers "than the sound bite community you have on most social media," said the priest, who also has a Facebook page.
Father Naples does not blog regularly, but he uses that space to place something with a theological or spiritual interest "when I don't want it to get lost in Facebook archives," he said. "Facebook and Twitter are short posts. The blog allows more substantive pieces and archives in a way that is easy to access for anyone on the Internet."
In a broad sense, blogs can be tools for evangelization, he said: "In contrast to other social media, they have more of a potential for interpersonal connection and getting to know the blogger and readers of the blog through writing. It's much closer to being pen pals than texting or exchanging tweets."
But he laments that as the youngest pastor in Vermont – and one who knows how to blog – he has few young people locally with whom to communicate via the blog. "I want to keep working with it and slowly develop in my ability to connect others with the Gospel through it," he said.
Father Naples hopes to expand his blog to continue to teach Scripture and the devotional life of the faith.
As he sat at the dining room table of the St. Paul rectory in Barton, Father Naples – wearing a green vest from Mount St. Joseph Academy (in Rutland where he once taught) – posed a question for himself: What can I do as a priest to encourage a better understanding of this particular [blog] media for evangelization and spirituality for the Catholic community in Vermont?
His answer: Try to build readership of his blog among the young people he meets; use it to reach those he cannot reach in person who might be inclined to make an online connection with a Catholic writer; and retain the catechetical aspect of his writing.
"One of the most important things I can do is explain the faith for the readers so that if they are not practicing Catholics something might open them up to the faith more," he said. "And if they are practicing Catholics, I help equip them to fulfill their vocation in the world, which is what a priest is to do."
To read Father Naples' blog, go to trinityparishinbarton.blogspot.com.
Article and photos by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.
- Published in Parish