Father Duffy brings a ‘priestly presence’ to the Internet

A screenshot of Father Duffy's blog

Farmingdale — Father Michael Duffy is using social media to bring the Gospel message and new evangelization to where the people are — the Internet.

Father Duffy, who was ordained this past June for the Diocese of Rockville Centre and serves at St. Kilian’s Church here, is the author of “Father, Where Art Thou?” a blog in which he writes about his experiences as a new priest. “It’s in part a vocation blog,” he explained. “It’s also a way for me to have a say and be present where people are. It’s a way to preach the Gospel in a new way.”

“I had written some stuff while I was a seminarian” for Patheos, a website he described as a “one-stop place for religion on the Internet.” While there are channels on the Patheos website for all faiths, the Catholic channel features popular blogs by Catholic authors such as “The Deacon’s Bench” and “The Anchoress.” After his ordination, Father Duffy explained, Elizabeth Scalia, author of “The Anchoress,” asked him “to start a blog, which was exciting. It would be a blog of a young priest, newly ordained, transitioning out of the seminary and into the parish.”

Scalia, who is also the managing editor of the Catholic channel on Patheos, noted that she heard Father Duffy speak at Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Ronkonkoma “about how joyful his own journey to the priesthood had been.”  He urged the young people in the congregation “to at least be open to the idea that God might be calling them to a life of consecrated service, which he said was ‘hard, challenging, exciting and totally worth it.’”

“And I just thought — he needs to get a blog going and start sharing that enthusiasm with young Catholics, maybe a blog where he chronicles the everyday ups and downs of a priest’s first years,” she said. “Cardinal Dolan has said that ‘happiness attracts’ and Father Michael is really happy in his vocation.”

Father Duffy noted that he was excited to be “using new media,” because “it’s a way to be out there. We have to be where the people are. It’s responding to the Holy Father’s call to be present on the Internet and through social media.” In addition to his blog, Father Duffy can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

He emphasized that his priority is his parish, so he posts when he can — his entries tend to be short, and he described his tone as “informal and conversational. People tell me they can hear my voice in what I write.”

“I point people to things I find interesting,” he noted, and said he writes about the new things he’s experiencing in the parish, “like hearing confessions for the first time. That was one of my most popular posts.”

Father Duffy said he sees the blog as a way to embrace the new evangelization preached by Blessed John Paul II and contining to be emphasized by Pope Benedict XVI. “We have to be a Catholic presence on the Internet. We have to have a priestly presence.” Priests are present to their parishioners, “we send priests into the high schools to talk to the young people, why not be present on the Internet, too?”

“I hope that what I’m doing is bringing light to the Internet — a source of hope, a source of joy, and a help to people on their path to holiness,” he said. “It’s a blog for all people. The message of Christ is never for just one section of people. What I’m hoping is what I’m saying are truths that reach into people’s hearts.”

Father Duffy’s blog can be found at www.patheos.com/blogs/frmichaelduffy/.