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Campus Ministry plans ND Prayercast project

Aaron Steiner | Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Religious organizations across the nation continue to integrate communications technology with faith to reach increasingly savvy congregations – and Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry is no exception to the trend.

Following the spread of worship into television, radio and the Internet, Campus Ministry offers several opportunities for spirituality outside of traditional settings. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart continues to broadcast a weekly mass on the Hallmark channel, and next semester, Campus Ministry hopes to kick off a new project called ND Prayercast – the University’s answer to the growing popularity of what some call “Godcasting.”

“Godcasting,” a term coined by the San Diego-based Godcast Network, describes the use of video and audio technology to share sermons, scripture and other forms of worship in both private and public settings. Its name comes from the type of Internet broadcast known as a “podcast,” through which users can make a digital recording available for public downloading.

Steven Warner, director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir and Liturgical Resources for Campus Ministry, said the new ND Prayercast project – his brainchild – is intended to reach college-age students and recent college graduates, both at Notre Dame and beyond.

“It’s a way for them to link into Notre Dame spirituality, and to encourage them to remain active in the Church,” he said.

The project is still in the “seedling stage,” according to Warner, with the launch date anticipated as this coming Mardi Gras. At this point, Warner said, the project will consist of 20-minute weekly podcasts featuring song, scripture, reflections, intentions, psalms and more.

Anyone with a computer will have access to the podcast and those with mp3 players or iPods will be able to download the material from ndprayercast.org, according to Warner.

He suggested the commute to work, a walk around campus or a workout in the as great opportunities to listen to the podcast and “be inspired.”

While Warner and Basilica rector Father Peter Rocca agreed that both the Basilica’s broadcast and the upcoming ND Prayercast project have “wonderful” benefits, they also warned of some dangers.

“It would be a bad thing if people substituted gathering to worship (with the televised broadcast or Prayercast),” Rocca said. “The danger … is that religion could become a privatized affair.”

“Liturgy has always implied involvement,” Warner added, explaining that the Prayercast should be used to supplement traditional worship.

Warner said he saw the Prayercast as an opportunity to spread the faith in a world dependent on technology.

“This is a medium we’d better be [using], at least on the ground level,” he said, “to cultivate a spiritual life so that any person listening decides to go deeper.”