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Online videos to teach Catholic teens about faith

Chris Dorst
The Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston recently launched an online video series for teenagers.
Chris Dorst Bob Perron, executive director of the department of Youth Ministries at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, displays the website for a new video catechism series for teenagers.

WHEELING, W.Va. -- A new video series aims to teach young Catholics about their faith using something they're likely very familiar with: Internet-based videos.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston -- with the help of nonprofit video production company "Outside Da Box" -- recently launched Video Catechism for Teens, a free online video series for young adults.

The monthly videos focus on teachings from the "Catechism of the Catholic Church."

Bob Perron, executive director of the diocese's department of Youth Ministries, said the videos were created out of a desire that young people learn more about their Catholic faith.

"One thing that becomes clear is that our Catholic young people, in many ways, don't know their faith as well as their Protestant counterparts," he said.

A discussion guide accompanies the videos.

"We wanted short videos that weren't over-the-top religious," Perron said. "To make [young people] think and 'Like' and share them with friends."

The diocese launched the videos in October to coincide with the start of the Year of Faith that Pope Benedict XVI instituted.

The videos will be presented over a four-year period, during which each year will focus on a different topic. The topics are "creed," "sacraments," "morality" and "prayer."

Since the videos' October launch, each video has received between 3,000 and 5,000 hits from two different YouTube accounts, Perron said. The first video -- an overview called "Creed" -- has about 60,000 hits, he said.

Another popular video is "38 Hours," the true story of a father who digs through rubble for 38 hours in search of his son. The video is meant to illustrate the fatherly love of God for people. 

"I have this hunch that it's just going to take one of these videos to just like spark something that causes it to go viral," Perron said. "Once that happens I think you're going to see kids going back and looking at a lot more of them in the channel. That just seems to be the trend with young people."

The videos are now between three and five minutes long, but Perron said the diocese has considered shortening the videos and offering two per month, instead of one.

"What we're finding with young people is that there's kind of a point of no return, where they look at a YouTube video," Perron said. "If it's longer than a certain length they don't share it.

"So if it's an 11-minute video, forget about it," he said.

People have called and requested to use the videos on their own websites and in classes, he said. That's fine with Perron, who said the only goal is that as many teenagers as possible see the videos.

"They're copyrighted, but with the intent that we want to get it out any way we can to any possible kid," Perron said.

For more information or to view the videos, visit http://www.vcat.org/.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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