Rev. Mark Morozowich , associate dean for seminary and ministerial programs, theology and religious studies, was interviewed by WJLA-TV about the use of social networking sites to recruit young men into the priesthood. To view the video segment, click on the link below.

Catholic Church Turns to Internet to Combat Priest Shortage

From: WJLA-TV Date: Feb. 7, 2009The Catholic Church is facing a priest shortage. As a result, the church is turning to some high tech tools to get its message out to young people.

At Catholic University in D.C. about 100 students are studying to be priests. Most have already made the commitment, but for some who are on the fence, maybe Facebook, MySpace or YouTube can help sway them to the seminary.

A priest in Richmond has helped launch a unique online ad campaign last Fall, and since then, it's gotten thousands of hits. Behindthecollar.com features priests and seminarians explaining what drove them to their vocation, what life is like being celibate and their day-to-day responsibilities. ABC 7 Talkback:

"That is definitely a good way to go, especially with the younger generation dealing with the social networking. We're on there a lot, so if you're going to be on there a lot, you might as well advertise on there," said Ryan Butler, Georgetown University graduate.

Philip Johnson of Alexandria (web | news) grew up going to Catholic school and is an altar server at Georgetown University. He's considering the seminary, and says he's intrigued by the 'Behind the Collar' campaign.

"It at least gets people interested and gets the message out," said Johnson. "If I could listen to a Podcast or something like that, I think it would be really informational."

Podcasts are another way this campaign is using new media to recruit priests. Father Mark Morozowich of Catholic University says the social networking strategy can only help.

"This virtual, if you will, reality enables people who maybe are questioning and maybe want to take a step and maybe don't want to ask a priest," said Morozowich.

"But some prefer their online escapes steer clear of religion. Personally, it kind of scares me just because it's another way of religion trying to get into my life," said Morgan Bauer, Georgetown University student.

Some of Catholic University's seminary students are featured in the campaign. So far, the campaign is not aware of anyone who joined the priesthood as a direct result of the online recruiting tool. To view a video of the segment, click here .

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