This is the second part of the interview with JP Pendleton who runs Gallatin Valley Catholic on King of Kings radio station in Bozeman, Montana.
And what of your own faith journey?
I’m a cradle Catholic, but, like a lot of people in my age bracket, I don’t think I was as well catechized as I could have been. I definitely went through, as Bishop Thomas phrased it when I spoke to him last Fall, a “sabbatical” in my faith. I became the Easter and Christmas Catholic and I was never really tied down to any particular parish; I just went to whatever one was convenient and met my schedule.
When Mary and I met, it was important to us to be married in the Church. My previous marriage was not in the Catholic Church and this was something that was very important to both of us. We began taking our faith much more seriously and it became a regular part of our lives. As the children came along, it became even that much more important to us. We moved to Belgrade in 2007 when I got my current job with the USDA, and we only live a couple blocks away from St. John Vianney Catholic Church.
We had been going to Mass before, but St. John Vianney parish was a community that we really embraced and it embraced us. I’ll give you one example, when I was in Billings, I joined the Knights of Columbus and I’ve been a Knight for almost fifteen years now. The group that was there was, by and large, retired guys. They were wonderful guys, absolutely terrific people, but I was essentially the youngest out of all of them and there was not a whole lot of common ground.
That was pretty big disconnect for me and because we hadn’t picked a parish in Billings, we didn’t have that sense of belonging. At St. John Vianney, we found that belonging and I was able to be more involved with the Knights since our council has guys in their twenties to their sixties which provides a lot more common ground for me. That gave me more incentive to be involved with the group since we were doing things that were a little bit easier for me to schedule.
Mary got involved with St. Martha’s Altar Society (a Catholic women’s service group) and then also got involved with religious education. She is now a parish staff member and she coordinates all of the parish events. And, on top of all that, she volunteers time with Divine Mercy Academy.
It seemed very incremental over the course of time, but we have filled our time with these very faith related projects and groups. We enjoy being a part of them and find fulfillment serving alongside our community. There are many ways that people can express and share their faith, and this is the way that we do that.
The Church has, in recent years, greatly increased her focus on communication media. With your background, how do you see the Church poised to use the new forms of communication to really spread the message of Jesus Christ?
I am really just now starting to invest time and focusing on the social media aspect of Catholicism. I will be completely honest, I don’t get Twitter and I can’t follow it. But, I know that it is important so I am trying to make sense of it. Gallatin Valley Catholic has its own Twitter account and I do follow a bunch of various Catholic streams. For example, the Pope’s media team has an outstanding ability to put out poignant thought provoking articles in 140 characters or less that remind us of the fundamentals of the faith. There are other organizations and various members of the clergy who have done an outstanding job of embracing the medium as well. I look at Bishop Robert Barron and Father Rock from Relevant Radio who both do a great job of embracing social media.
Social media, to get into the esoteric side of it, is such a double-edged sword. There is a lot of poison out there; there is a lot of negativity online and there is a lot of genuinely bad stuff that is available on those social media platforms. To whatever extent that we can provide good content, I think that benefits everyone. Good content ends up on peoples’ feeds and it gives them something positive, thought-provoking, and poignant to think about. I think that this is just one more evangelization tool and I feel that the larger structure of the Catholic Church is doing a good job leveraging social media.
As far as getting involved in social media, just do your research to see what is out there, and use whatever audience that you may have with your Facebook friends, Twitter feed, etc. and share Good News! Retweet; re-post things off of Facebook; share the things that are good, Holy, and that help promote our faith. Use your social media influence to promote the Gospel message of Jesus Christ!
You have experience forming a local radio show on a small Catholic station. Could you offer some words of advice for those in a similar situation?
Find your local Catholic radio station and just ask, “What can I do to help out?” A lot of time, local radio stations are in need of volunteers because, at best, there are only a handful of people that are involved with the particular station. Often times, small, local, low-power radio stations, might only have one or two people who are regularly involved. If you have the ability, time, and resources, maybe you can provide some content, but even just sitting on an advisory board can be a great help.
Thank you JP!