September 9, 2013
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Young people spend hours a day on the Internet searching for answers and engaging with other people. That's why Mike Landry posts a weekly blog on the basics of the faith there too.
"Being present where young people are on the Internet is absolutely critical," says Landry, chaplain for the Evergreen Catholic School Division in Spruce Grove.
Landry, who served as parish youth minister for a decade before becoming chaplain, has been writing a blog for years.
However this past year, the Year of Faith, he became more focused and began writing weekly on YouCat, a series on the catechism for young people. Now he has a well-organized website (www.iamthird.ca) filled with articles - all linked to his Facebook page and his Twitter account.
"When I began my new job as chaplain I was looking at what other chaplains did and I saw what Father Mike Mireau had done with his website," Landry recalled. "I needed to do something and began last year with the Year of Faith. I thought 'Let's break open the YouCat throughout the whole year.'"
It took him from the end of September to mid-June to get through YouCat with 36 weekly Tuesday columns.
The main audience for his articles are the young people he serves in the schools. Teachers and youth ministers looking for answers to specific questions also use the website.
"Most of my articles would get, on the day they are published, 30 to 40 views just from my Twitter and Facebook followers," Landry explained.
"I'm also seeing a lot of people who are searching for something on the Church ending up on the YouCat articles. And so I'm having 60 different people visiting my site a day."
The challenge that Landry had in the previous three years he was blogging was he didn't really have a framework in which to write. He basically reflected on his prayers. "There are a few posts that I look back on and I don't think they are very good," he laughed. "I was just writing to put something up."
Breaking open the YouCat series gave Landry content to write on and made his writing broader.
This year the theme of Evergreen Catholic Schools is Building Our House of Faith, which is about trying to build up faith in people. "What I want to do is probably try to answer some of the difficult questions of the day," Landry said.
Landry has already written a piece explaining what it means to love the sinner but hate the sin. He said he may sit in some religion classes to find out what young people's most common questions are in order to answer them in his posts this year.
The chaplain also plans to add more YouTube clips answering questions such as how the Church feels about homosexuality or cohabitation before marriage.
Young people "spend hours on Facebook and other venues discussing and having conversations and engaging with other people," Landry says.
"My biggest hope in everything that I write, in everything that I say, is that I can point them to a life of faith lived well."
Landry and his wife Jennifer live in Spruce Grove with their three children, where they are active members of Holy Trinity Parish. He also leads the praise and worship band Anaphora.
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