Social Media is a reality in each our lives; even more so for teens. Some want to reject it all, others just worry about avoiding the evil; instead I think we use it for good and as a new field of evangelization. This seems to be what Vatican II asks us (Gaudium et Spes 4): “The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other.”
I made this as a list for teens. It works for adults too; I don’t baby teens. The biggest difference had I made it for adults is that humour would be valued less, and politics / news valued more. I wish I could list more as there’s about 10 more I’d like to add but 12 is the number of the apostles so it’s a good place to stop.
1. Pope Francis (@Pontifex): It’s the Pope. I think this goes without saying that we should all follow him. Pope Francis doesn’t write the Tweets himself but a secretary summarizes his ideas in 140 characters and he approves it.
2. Mark Hart (@LT_TheBibleGeek): Here’s the most successful speaker to Catholic teens in the last decade. He combines humour with positive things about each teen’s relationship with Jesus.
3. Catholic Problems (@CatholicPrblm): This account has fun with Catholicism. Every day expect several funny tweets about being Catholic. Bio: “Only religion started by Jesus.”
4. Fr Matthew Schneider, LC (@FrMatthewLC): This is me. I am shameless about self-promotion but somehow a lot of teens and youth ministers like my stuff so I’d likely make someone else’s top 10 list too (maybe down near the bottom instead of #5). I tweet quotes from books I read, quotes from saints, inspirational or funny phrases I think up, a daily homily, news about what I’m doing offline, prayer intentions, Twitterstorms, and some random stuff.
5. ZENIT (@zenitenglish): It’s important for all of us (even teens) to stay up on Catholic news. The main stories will also be on: Catholic News Agency, EWTN, The National Catholic Register, or Catholic News Service. I choose ZENIT because they almost always have a photo (so scrolling down you see it), and I like their analysis best.
6. Catholic Girl Problems (@Catholicgrlprob): Similar to Catholic Problems (above). Enjoying life as a Catholic with a bit of humour along the way. Even though this says “Girl” in the title, I think most guys will laugh too – and it might be a bit of insight into the only mystery more difficult than the Holy Trinity: how girls think. Bio: “Too much guilt to NOT tweet about it.”
7. Hannah (@hanmariams): Hannah is by far the least followed on this list (everyone else is 10,000+ and she isn’t quite 400 – update: in the first 36 hours this post was up, she’s almost reached 500). She is also the only teen on this list. I added her because I think she is an example for other teens of how they can use Twitter; her posts are the best of any teen I know. She posts about her life as a teen with a positive and religious spin.
8. Sr Helen Burns, FSP (@SrHelenaBurns): I think her bio summarizes it: “Media nun tweets God, Theology of Body, Media Literacy, Philosophy. Proof God exists: hummingbirds, hockey, coffee.” She tweets a bit of everything.
9. Dr Brian Kiczek (@DrBrianKiczek): This is one of a dozen or more accounts run by the Kiczek family. They tweet inspirational quotes and organize twitterstorms. They promote #PrayToEndAbortion and some other hashtags regularly. Since they tend to retweet across their various accounts, you can follow any one of their accounts and get the best stuff. I’m just partial to the personal account of the dad of the family.
10. Father Nathan (@CathTools): Fr Nathan Miller is a priest who taught me a lot about social media. We studied theology together; he was 2 years ahead of me. Now he works in Austria and tweets inspirational quotes and pictures from his life relatively frequently but not necessarily every day.
11. Jackie Francois (@JackieFrancois): Jackie is a Catholic singer who travels across North America touring. She tweets about where she’s playing and tweets some pretty inspirational and often profound insights into life. (She probably the 2nd most popular Catholic singer after Matt Maher but her tweets are more interesting.)
12. Ken Yasinski (@KenYasinski): He’s a speaker at youth retreats and conferences who tweets inspirational phrases every day. Most of them he thought up himself and are really directed to teens.
Bonus: If you work with teens you’ll want to follow ProjectYM.com (@project_ym) and #22Catholic (@22Catholic) to hear about great blog posts for your ministry. The former includes all posts on this site, the later is all the blogs or articles I write.