Give Me the Internet or Give Me Death!

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

An open letter to my Church family

In my sophomore year at the Passionist Prep in Warrenton Missouri, I won a speech contest delivering Patrick Henry’s “Call to Arms” in front of the assembled student body and faculty. The urgency Henry presented to the fledgling colonists in 1775, just six months before the death of St. Paul of the Cross by the way, is brought home with his famous last line: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

Today, I believe the Church is in much the same situation the colonists found themselves, with a few fundamental differences. The colonists were at the mercy of a government that didn’t serve them. Today the church is at the mercy of outmoded ways of delivering their much needed message of hope, joy and the power of the Cross to a suffering world. Paraphrasing Patrick Henry I’d say: “Give me the Internet or give me death.”

Haley Van Dyck in the above TED Talk presents a roadmap to such a change. She tells how she along with a few others, after having successfully used the Internet to elect President Obama, were charged by President Obama to apply these same techniques to providing government services to students, the poor, veterans, immigrants, the elderly. She tells about the four-step process that is bridging that divide and beginning to deliver services in record time. The four steps are:

  1. Recruit the very best talent you can find for a short term of duty.
  2. Strategically identify the most important services the government offers
  3. Pair these incredibly talented people with the people already providing the services
  4. Give them connection to everybody in the government from the President down to the front line people delivering the services

I think St. Paul of the Cross if he were around today would be using the Internet much the way Van Dyck is doing at the Federal Government. We are not in 1775, the year St. Paul of the Cross died. We must enter the 21st Century.


To Tweet or Not to Tweet…

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Pope Francis is an amazing leader. Besides his staunch support of the oppressed and marginalized of the world, at the age of 79 he has a Twitter account. I have an account and follow 119 people and 50 people follow me. Pope Francis has almost 10 million followers and follows no one. I opened my account in October 2011. Pope Francis joined January 2012. Evidently getting there earlier doesn’t guarantee more followers.

Siyanda Mohutsiwa, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, a writer and a social media maven also has a Twitter account. She joined in February of 2011, has tweeted 49.2 thousand tweets, and follows 1,643 other tweeters. Like many young people she questions the world she is inheriting. She, as Pope Francis evidently does, thinks Twitter is an important media in which to express those concerns. You get a sense on how successful she is when you see that she has garnered 17.7 thousand followers and delivered the above 2015 above TED Talk. I believe she is a remarkable young lady.

So what is this social media business and do you think maybe if you are involved in sharing “Good News” it might deserve your consideration? Brian Cradle, Communications Professor at Villanova University in a September 2015 article in the Washington Post explains why the Vatican is moving into social media:

“I think they are moving from an approach that sees contemporary media as a source of contamination to an understanding that there are ways in which contemporary communications technology allow for a different way of engaging with people of faith, both within and outside the Catholic Church,” he said. “To approach it not simply as: ‘What are things that are harmful?’ but what opportunities might be there for the church to engage people, like, what is the pope doing about issues of social justice?” (Brian Cradle, Communications Professor at Villanova University September 2015 Washington Post)

If you think you might want to try Twitter, it’s easy. I suggest:

  • Open an account by going to It takes seconds.

  • Find some people you want to follow by typing their name in the Search field and then click “Follow”.

  • Spend 10 minutes a day opening Twitter and see what’s trending and what the people you are following are saying.

I’ll bet you’ll find it an amazing source of news, news from the people you think are real sources of news like in my case, Pope Francis.

Here’s to a Happy 2016

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

I have a friend who likes to say when referring to a particular political party: “The only trouble with spending other peoples’ money is that you eventually run out of it.” (Anonymous) I have another friend who fondly reminisces about when he and his single mother would get together at the end of the month and decide which charities they would give to that month. Both, I suppose are right in some way, but one suggests to me a much happier, and I believe much more realistic understanding of just what money is and what it can do for us.

In today’s TED selection, Michael Norton tells how to buy happiness. He starts out by saying we often read in religion books “money can’t buy happiness”. He categorically says that’s wrong and if you think that way, you’re probably spending it wrongly. He goes on to give the results of some simple unscientific studies he’s made that demonstrate the right way to spend money so that you will be happy.

The book, Your Money or Your Life originally written by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin in the early 90’s and updated by Vicki Robin in 2008 presents a good analysis of the stages most of us go through in dealing with money. The authors eventually give the reader some down to earth financial goals along with the means to achieving them. The secret according to Dominguez and Robin is the simple recognition of what is enough.

If money sometimes gets in the way to your happiness, try one or more of these simple suggestions for a happy 2016: 

  • Define “enough”—Know what is enough; enough house, enough food, enough entertainment… 
  • Try sharing—Giving to others as Michael Norton above tells us works to make us happy. 
  • Keep it simple—Establish simple goals and immediately begin to work for them.

The Four “C’s” for Great Blogging


In the responses to the Provincial Report Survey a number of people wrote that they would like to get involved in the CPP Blog or thought the Blog was a good way to keep in contact and share our mission with each other and the greater community. With that in mind I offer today’s YouTube video where Mike Wolpert of gives us the Basics of Blogging. Please take the time to watch if you are interested in contributing to the blog. It clarifies well, I believe, how blogging is different than writing for a magazine or reporting for a newspaper.


Happy blogging…