Take Out Your Cell Phones!

Take Out Your Cell Phones!

Flocknote Helps U.P. Parishes Stay Connected

By Terri Gadzinski, Director, U.P. Catholic Foundation


Imagine for a moment that you are in the “Mass-Zone,” that quiet place of personal prayer on Sunday morning just before Mass begins.

Then, your pastor says, “Everybody take out your cell phones….Really! I’m not kidding, I need you to take out your cell phones!”

That’s precisely how Rev. Jamie Ziminski, pastor of All Saints Parish in Gladstone, welcomed people to livestream Mass on Good Shepherd Sunday. Watch his video here.

Father Jamie signed his parish up for a new service offered by the Diocese of Marquette and the U.P. Catholic Foundation, Inc. called Flocknote.

Flocknote is a digital communications tool that helps parishes to communicate more effectively with parishioners, or their “flock.” Flocknote makes it easy for people to control what types of announcements they get from the parish and how they are notified.

“This is all totally free for you to use and it’s going to make it easy for you to stay plugged-in to the ministries or groups that you care about, all by text message or email updates. Your information will be completely safe and secure, and you can unsubscribe from any updates at any time,” said Fr. Jamie in the video that he recorded to personally welcome people to his livestream Mass on May 3rd.

“Aside from the regular group and ministry updates, the parish can also use Flocknote to send important updates, like when our parish is able to celebrate Mass again publicly, or when we need your help with harvest dinner or the parish picnic, or with the Christmas baskets. Or even just to send you a reminder that it’s a Holy Day,” said Fr. Jamie.

Smart digital communication is crucial in these times. We are living in a culture of New Media, yet our Church lags in using the New Media to its fullest. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the gaps in our communication strategy. Our pastors need to reach the laity with the most up-to-date information as quickly as possible.

One way to do that is by helping them join Flocknote.

In late March an urgent appeal was made to our Bishop’s Ambassadors for financial support to improve and increase communications. The Bishop’s Ambassadors is a membership organization led by Bishop John Doerfler and perpetually by future bishops of the Diocese of Marquette. The primary objective of the Bishop’s Ambassadors is to hand on to future generations the great, living tradition of faith that has been handed down by past generations. Those who could, made donations to help launch Flocknote in the Diocese of Marquette.

The U.P. Catholic Foundation accepted donations and set up the partnership with Flocknote. The partnership enables the diocese and up to 15 pastors to join Flocknote for one year at no cost. Diocesan staff from the Stewardship, Evangelization & Education, along with Communications departments are working to invite and assist pastors to sign up with Flocknote. To date, about a third of the parishes in the Diocese of Marquette have signed up for Flocknote. A pastor who signs up may include in his Flocknote network all parishes/missions, Catholic schools, and ministry programs under his care.  The 13 pastors who have signed up so far represent 29 parishes/missions, six Catholic schools and two campus ministry programs.   

The Flocknote company has been rethinking how to use software and technology in the Church for nine years to over 91,000 church and ministry leaders to help them reach more of their sheep.

“We’re on a mission to help you build a more connected Church,” says Matthew Sewell, Diocesan Specialist and Happiness Engineer at Flocknote. “Flocknote churches can reach all their members at a moment’s notice, resulting in higher attendance, increased stewardship, and a more connected church,” he says.

With all of its features and benefits, Flocknote may not be for every parish in our diocese. Each pastor and each parish community is uniquely gifted and uniquely positioned at any given moment to advance the mission of the Church. While communication is always important, how and when we communicate is often more a function of the tools available to us and our ability to use them. Some of our smaller, more remote parishes are experiencing great success staying connected to parishioners using other tools such as phone calls, parish websites, mailings, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube videos, and Zoom meetings.

I have encouraged pastors who are considering Flocknote to not be discouraged by parishioners who say they don’t have internet or email or use social media. Many people are using these New Media tools now, more than ever, to keep in touch with loved ones and neighbors while they are staying at home.  All our pastors, in one way or another, are thinking beyond what they’ve always done in order to get the Church’s evangelizing messages to people that need them most.

Flocknote is a great opportunity for people to get plugged-in to the many wonderful things that parishes have going on, even during this time of stay-home, stay-safe and suspension of public Mass. “This is really going to simplify communication and increase engagement here at our parish,” foretells Fr. Jamie in his video welcome message.

It’s a great time to be part of the flock, at All Saints parish and at each of the 93 parishes and missions that gather the flock virtually online and, in God’s time, back in church!