Diocesan News

McCook priest launches ‘Compendium Clips’ online

McCOOK (SNR) – Late last spring, an idea occurred to Father Andrew Heaslip, assistant pastor for St. Patrick Parish in McCook and its two rural mission parishes, St. Ann and Sacred Heart.

He had been leading a Bible study for high school students, and since they were all on Facebook, he decided to take the plunge and get his own account. Through this social media network, Father Heaslip was able to see how the students were communicating with each other online… and he was also able to identify a potential problem.

"I started seeing posts that had not-quite true ideas," Father Heaslip said. "And I started thinking there was a lot of them out there."

He considered different ways to provide accurate Catholic teaching via the medium the students were most comfortable using. Plus, Father Heaslip is very well tuned in to the Internet himself.

"As a seminarian and as a priest, all, 95% of my preparation for my classes, my homilies, and my correspondence is through the Internet," he admitted. "It’s an essential tool much as a pen and pad of paper would be in the past."

It made sense to use the Catechism for content, but Father Heaslip thought that it was important to keep things focused and short, or his audience would lose interest.

So, he turned to the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Its question-and-answer format provides tightly-written statements that Father Heaslip can tap into for his posts.

"The Compendium is a real sweet deal for catechesis," Father Heaslip said. "I’ve used it quite a bit in RCIA and catechesis classes… It’s perfect for teachers."

The next problem was how to present the information. Social media – Facebook, Twitter and other formats that enable people to connect with family and friends – seemed to be the obvious choice.

"Even in a small town in the west, people of all ages are on Facebook," Father Heaslip said. "Social media is just one more medium of communication, and a very powerful one because it can reach all over the world."

He consulted with Bishop James D. Conley via e-mail about using social media to present teaching from the Compendium, and got a favorable response within minutes. So, he got to work.

Father Heaslip decided creating a web site with short videos promoted through social media would be ideal, but he knew he would be limited to the computer software he already had on hand.

"I have iMovie on my computer here, and it worked out pretty well to make amateur films," he said.

Father Heaslip has no formal training in video production, but he did have to create a lot of PowerPoint presentations during the years he taught at St. Cecilia High School in Hastings. So he applied what he had picked up about pleasing layouts and legible subtitles to his videos.

"Really, it was a bunch of trial and error," he admitted.

Knowing how important images are to a visually-driven culture, Father Heaslip incorporated works of art into his videos (after checking to make sure there was no copyright infringement).

After creating a couple of pilot videos, Father Heaslip asked some other priests for input. They made valuable suggestions, which he incorporated into his first video before putting it up on the website he dubbed Compendium Clips.

The videos are designed for anybody who wants to know more about the Catholic Faith. So far, Father Heaslip has created nine videos, covering the four Pillars of the Catholic faith, divine revelation, apostolic tradition, angels and more.

His goal is to produce about 60 videos total. The Compendium groups its questions and answers by themes, so Father Heaslip has been able to use one group per video.

New videos are introduced about every other week. Father Heaslip said he would have liked to move more rapidly, but between his parish responsibilities and the time it takes to produce a quality video, that’s not possible for the moment.

Currently, Father Heaslip is only promoting Compendium Clips through his own Facebook page. Some other priests who are friends of him have recommended the videos on their own Facebook pages, and Father Adam Sughroue, assistant pastor at St. John the Apostle Parish in Lincoln, mentioned it in one of his homilies.

Father Heaslip said the videos have earned about 500 views so far, which is an excellent number for just nine clips. He’s grateful for the positive feedback he’s received so far.

"My priests friends say to keep it up, the bishop encourages me, and parishioners have been positive," Father Heaslip said

He hope his audience will continue to grow.

"Talking one-on-one is still best," Father Heaslip acknowledged, "but sometimes people just want five minutes of information. If they’re going to just listen to five minutes of stuff, maybe the faith can fit into there, too."

To see Father Heaslip’s Compendium Clips, go to www.compendiumclips.com. You can get automated updates when new videos are posted by following Compendium Clips on Twitter (@CompendiumClips) or YouTube (search for "Compendium Clips").

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