Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Facebook and Happy Face Pancakes

By Sister Mary Frances Coleman, R.S.M.
Director, diocesan Office for Consecrated Life

I must admit I am not a great proponent of Internet communication. Though not a pure Luddite, I do have a Blackberry and gradually have come to know and appreciate its many uses and conveniences. I have somehow steered clear of most of the distractions that delight the tech-savvy. Until now, I have never blogged. I have never been on the major social networking sites Facebook or MySpace. A recent conversation with a friend, Helen Smith, however, opened my eyes to the possibilities of Facebook as a “new way of being with people,” perhaps even a new means of evangelization.

While chatting over a cup of coffee, Helen shared with me how she keeps in touch with her family and some friends on Facebook. She was obviously pleasantly surprised and grateful to hear from, John, a grade school classmate of her son. She told me that John and his sister were from a very underprivileged family. They attended Catholic school on reduced tuition for just two years, when tragedy struck the family. Their house burned down and their father died in the fire. There was immediate outreach from the school families, however John’s family had to move away and live elsewhere. Years after the two classmates found each other again on Facebook and John asked if he could invite Helen, Mrs. Smith, to be his Facebook “friend.”

Many of us have probably, at one time or another, thought of someone from our distant past who showed us God’s grace in a difficult time and we wished that we could thank them, today. Here we see this kind of gratitude expressed, via Facebook…

Not sure you remember me, but it's John. I went to Catholic school with your son. Its funny because I have been wanting to write this for some time, and felt like now is a good time. I wanted to thank you and your family for being an inspiration in my life at a young age that shaped a big part of the person I have come to be today.

When I was young there was a weekend where you allowed me to stay the night at your
house. It was the first time in my life where I sat down at a table for any meal as a family
and it was a moment that I think about often. Mrs. Smith, you made pancakes that
morning and they had happy faces on them…I have never forgotten that experience. Your house was the
biggest house I had ever been in and it was the first time I had set a goal for myself. Your
house was filled with a lot of love and kindness and I felt safe. I thank you for that.

I graduated from college in 99 and moved out of state and started working with
children as a case manager. What was funny was I would take the children who had
rough times happening in their lives to nice neighborhoods and tell them that they could
have all the things they see, if they do it the right way and go to school. I would tell them
about the family and the pancakes they could have…I have worked in the prison for a while and through this life so far have seen a lot of bad things, but the funny part about it is that when things get too tough, I feel myself sitting back in your house with your family eating pancakes with happy faces on them and being thankful for that time.

I have been wanting to thank your family for that for a long time, and let you know how
much it truly meant to me.

Thank you,


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Sister Mary Frances Coleman,

    That was a great example of the potential of Facebook being used in a positive way! The "story in the story" is about how relationships build our abilities to grow in a positive way depending on our experiences. As well as reuniting neighbors, friends, and families.

    The "potential" for Facebook from a Catholic perspective could help to open up the Truth and Compassion of the Church. By facilitating discussions about the Teachings of the Church through this format, the Church can "reunite" fallen away members with clarification of the Truth. At the same time, the Compassion of the Church can be demonstrated by publicizing Church efforts in Justice and Service to help in the community; encouraging members to get involved and be Good Stewards of our Time, Talent, and Treasure.

    The Truth can be seen in the Teachings of the Church and the actions of it's members. Jesus is the Truth. And Catechesis delivers that Truth through Compassion and Christ's Teachings. Through a Catechetical approach in the Facebook venue, Pro-Life efforts can be strengthened, Catholic perspective on same-sex marriage can be clarified, the folly of the ordination of women exposed, the Priesthood and the Religious lives promoted.

    Then we can reunite and return together to the REAL MEAL, the Eucharist. Building the Catholic/Christian family in the Faith that has been handed down.

    What are we waiting for? Our Brothers and Sisters have been waiting "for a long time" to know the Truth and Compassion, the relationship God wants with us.

    Peace In Christ,

    Brian Joos

  3. I agree Facebook can be used for helped me find a wonderful blog of the Bishop emritus of Corpus Christi this weekend.


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