NEW YORK - The Catholic Church has begun embracing social media in recent years. Pope Francis is on Twitter and the Vatican has its own YouTube channel. It seems to be working. The church is reaching a younger, global audience.
Why can't social media expert Kathleen Hessert just stop laughing not even for a second? Maybe it's because she's got what appears to be the easiest social media client in the world, practically sent from the heavens some might say. Hessert is behind a movement called digital evangelism, spreading the word through social media. Their goal is for Pope Francis' visit to reach far beyond those who come to see and hear the pontiff. And these days it's easy, isn't it? Instagram, Vine, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook -- tools to broaden the church's access outside of, well, churches.
Hessert and the digital evangelist pioneers Aleteia.org created a contest called good is winning to look for millennials to use the pope's visit to inspire good deeds, humanity.
Allanah Dykes from Long Island is one of the winners they announced. And she's not what anyone would consider an evangelist. She is like us. Allanah shared positivity thru her blog, Double Shot of Chic. It is an unassuming, honest, and at times playful blog built out of an incredibly difficult year in which she lost her grandmother and her aunt. Through sharing her perseverance, she aims to shine light on others. Now as a contest winner Allanah will be part of the pope's social media team for his visit next month.
And get this. Allanah, who will be sharing inspiring stories about faith and social justice from the pope's visit, isn't Catholic. The contest never even questioned her on her faith -- just her actions and intentions. Jason deal of Aleteia says they wanted all perspectives.
Even early on the simplicity looks like it is taking hold and maybe that's why Hessert can't stop smiling. Her ultimate goal, however, goes beyond Pope Francis' visit: she wants to take all the data and turn it insight and then knowledge.
If you want to participate or are curious, "Pope Is Hope" is the account set up across social media platforms. The hashtag #goodiswinning is attached to good deeds.