by guest contributor, Postulant Allison Gliot
God has a sense of humor. If you don’t believe me, keep reading.
In high school, I had a reputation for being technologically incompetent. I never turned my flip phone on, wanted nothing to do with social media, and zoned out whenever my friends talked about video games. And yet, somehow, I ended up joining the Daughters of St. Paul, also known as #MediaNuns. The irony of this was not lost on my high school friends, who still marvel at how I keep my phone on all the time now that I’ve entered the convent.
So, how did technologically incompetent little me end up in a convent with sisters who fly drones and have accounts on social media platforms I’ve never even heard of?
Using the Media for God
The mission of the Daughters of St. Paul is quite unique, as far as religious orders go. Our goal is to become like Christ so as to give him to others, just as St. Paul said “For me, living is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). Paul wanted to tell everyone he possibly could about God’s love, and that’s what we strive to do, too. The unique part is how we do it: through all the means of social communication. Books, radio, film, music, art, blogs, social media—basically, if people use it to communicate, we use it to tell them about God. Our founder, Blessed James Alberione, once said, “If St. Paul were alive today, he would use the greatest pulpits of modern progress: press, film, radio and television, to announce the thrilling discovery of the love and salvation found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” (And if the internet had been around then, he would have had that to the list, too).
Catching the People Who Slip through the Cracks
When I was looking for a religious community, I kept trying to figure out what group of people God wanted me to spend my life ministering to. The sick? The poor? Children? The elderly? But what about the rich? The healthy? The middle-aged? Who would minister to them? I felt that everyone needed God in their lives, and I wanted to be a sister for the people that don’t already have sisters looking out for them and praying for them, the people who slip through the cracks.
I found that universal scope of mission in the Daughters of St. Paul, who seek to reach out to all people with the means of social communication. (So, if you happen to be a human being, we are here for you). Now, telling everyone in the whole world about God’s love is a ridiculously huge job, which is why we use the most modern, effective means of communication. How many people see a viral tweet? Or read a bestselling book? Or listen to the radio while stuck in traffic? Thousands, or even millions, all of whom need to be reminded of Jesus and his love. If we’re going to reach as much of humanity as we possibly can, we have to be smart about it and use all the gifts God gave us, including the media in all its forms.
Sneaking God into Our Media-Saturated Culture
The other reason I felt drawn to the Pauline mission cropped up during college. I became interested in all the ways communication technologies can be used to build up relationships and communities or tear them down: social media that spreads news and fake news, video games that bring people together or isolate and addict them, technologies that enhance lives or foster escapism. I was especially fascinated by the awesome potential of media to be a place of encounter with God and each other.
When I found out that an integral part of the Pauline mission involves media literacy (teaching people awareness of their media usage and how to use it for good), along with making reparation and praying for the evil that takes place through the misuse of media, I knew I wanted to help them however I could in bringing God to our media-saturated culture. So, I finally made the decision to enter the Daughters of St. Paul.
You Don’t Have to Be a Tech Genius…
My friends still laugh about how, after how reluctant I was to get a smartphone, I ended up joining the #MediaNuns. But, for the record, being technologically savvy isn’t a requirement for entering the Daughters of St. Paul. Being open to learning new things and cooperating with God’s grace is, and that’s what I try to do. The sisters have a prayer that starts, “By myself I can do nothing, but with God, I can do all things.” Jesus can even turn a non-techie into a “MediaNun”!
Postulant Allison Gliot entered the convent of the Daughters of Saint Paul in 2017.