Priest sends out Easter tweets to rally the flock

SOCIAL networking and the Stations of the Cross hardly seem natural companions, but one young priest is combining the two tomorrow in a bid to reach out to the tweeting generation.

“Tweet around the Cross” is the brainchild of Fr Paddy Byrne, based in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, who hopes to attract more “followers” for Jesus thanks to a Twitter account he established on Ash Wednesday.

For an hour from 9am, Fr Paddy will mark Good Friday in an unconventional way by sending out appropriate tweets from his Co Carlow base and inviting followers and others to respond by asking for a prayer or posting a message.

“I’m a firm believer in the principle of evangelisation, which is being able to utilise the good news that’s out there. People don’t have to come into church but the churches have to go out to them and social media is a good way of doing that.

“A lot of it is a generational thing and my age group are certainly in the minority within the priesthood so the older guys would struggle with it. But I think it’s something that’s going to grow dramatically,” said Fr Paddy. He sends his tweets from his iPhone, and as well as posting inspirational messages — “there’s a great appetite out there for hope” — and goodwill tidings to people, he also keeps followers up to date on parish and diocesan happenings.

By yesterday, Fr Paddy had built up a following of almost 500 on Twitter but admits he doesn’t like the term “followers” because of its connotations with religious leaders. “I’m not some kind of guru.”

On Sunday morning Fr Paddy will be one of the celebrants at Easter Mass on Mount Leinster.

It can all be followed on Twitter at @frpaddybyrne.

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