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University launches Grotto Network to engage millennials

| Monday, December 4, 2017

Grotto Network, Notre Dame’s new media platform encouraging millennials to reinvigorate their faith lives and gain inspiration from others’ stories, launched on Nov. 26.

Social media manager and 2014 alumna Emily Mae Mentock said the network’s home base is grottonetwork.com, but the operation also relies heavily on social media to deliver its message and attract an audience.

“It’s not another social media platform,” Mentock said. “We’re trying to meet people where they are in their media consumption as well as in their faith.” 

Mentock said the network aims to produce meaningful content and to encourage sharing of quality content. Director of the Grotto Network Sarah Yaklic said the group hopes to inspire viewers and readers through written and visual content.

“I understand how sometimes digital platforms can draw us away from what’s important, but I’ve also seen it affect positive change,” Yaklic said. She said she led the digital outreach for the Pope Francis’s 2015 visit and saw firsthand how digital media can be a means to invite people to and encounter with Jesus.  

Mentock said planning the project has taken several years, but only recently have team members been hired.  Although both Mentock and Yaklic came from diocesan work, Mentock said most of the team came from secular career fields and were looking for an opportunity to be a force for good in the world.

“One of the great things about having Notre Dame’s support in this project is that they have is resources to hire talented people who are experts in their field,” she said.

Yaklic said the success of the first week serves as a testament to the team’s diverse areas of expertise.

“We recognize that there are limitations in the digital realm, so we anticipate that Grotto’s outreach will extend to everyday encounters,” she said. “We’re looking to provide a little more hope to the world.”

Grotto Network is based out of Corbett Family Hall in the Rex and Alice A. Martin media center. Although it’s being launched and funded by Notre Dame, Grotto Network is not exclusive to the Notre Dame community and hopes to expand to Catholic young adults around the world, Yaklic said.

“Being a part of the [Campus Crossroads] experience reinforces the integration of academics, faith and athletics,” Yaklic said. “It shows the University’s desire to tell students we are holistic beings.”

“This upcoming semester we’ll be students of our own outreach,” she said. “I’m most excited to learn from students and walk more closely with them on this journey.”

Mentock said she and her co-workers emphasize how various components of faith can merge to improve people’s lives.

“We want to be a bridge for people to recognize how social justice, well being, and relationships all connect to the Catholic faith,” Mentock said.

Yaklic said Grotto Network’s ultimate goal would be to collaborate with other universities and young adult groups.

“We hope to use newly established partnerships with parishes, archdiocese and young adult groups across the countries, as well as an enhanced media strategy, to further our mission,” Yaklic said.

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