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Turn to Jesus (Article)

A Picture Worth 1,000 Words
Fr Jason Smith LC shares his experiences evangelizing through Instagram

Fr. Jason having fun with his camera
Fr. Jason having some fun with his camera

Fr Jason Smith, LC is originally from Minnesota and was ordained a priest in 2006.  He is currently working with the Regnum Christi adult section in New York, but previously worked many years with young people. Last year Fr. Jason started using Instagram and other social media as a means of evangelization. In the interview below, he shares his experience:

Fr Jason, why did you start using Instagram?

I arrived early one morning to the Hawthorn Dominican’s convent to celebrate Mass. A statue of Saint Dominic caught my eye. The mist, the trees, his eyes gazing up to heaven -- it seemed so perfectly peaceful. I had received a smart phone the day before, and so I paused to try out the camera.  I’m glad I did. I’ve been pausing ever since try to capture the beauty around me. I look out and notice photographs everywhere now. Ansal Adams had it right when he said, “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” One of the many benefits of a smart phone is I never find myself without a camera anymore.

St. Dominic was initial inspiration
St. Dominic was initial inspiration
is Instagram?

It’s a little photo sharing “app” that you can download for your smart phone.  It has become a vibrant and engaging community of over 90 million users. For those who’ve never used it before, its starts with snapping a photo, and then applying a filter to transform the picture from good to great (or bad to good for most of us) and then uploading it to the social network of Instagram.  It’s kind of like Twitter, but with pictures.  I liken it to the old Polariod cameras, where you could snap a picture and share it with your friends as soon as it developed.  Except with Instagram, you can share it with the whole world immediately.

How do you use Instagram as a priest?

There’s a saying that goes, “Good photos are like good jokes.  If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good.”  Good photos can communicate a message differently than words. Because I’m a priest, I have the grace to be constantly surrounded with the beauty of our Catholic faith.  Instagram has become a sort of public photo journal of my priestly adventures.  The pictures themselves do the talking.  In my case, they show what it’s like to be a Legionary of Christ priest.  My favorite story so far is of a young man from New Mexico who contacted me through Instagram.  He was impressed by the balanced life we Legionaries live, and he ended up traveling all the way to Cheshire, Connecticut to visit the novitiate.  There are other stories of people being inspired by a picture, and others getting a renewed interest in their faith, or those who learn about an event we are organizing.  It’s a
Fr. Jason calls this photo "Golden Hour in Soho"
Fr. Jason calls this photo "Golden Hour in Soho"
simple tool that becomes very compelling when used in the right way. Almost every day there’s a new comment or story that surprises me.

Do you have any words of encouragement for other priests or RC members regarding the use of social media as a means of evangelization?

Social media is a great way to connect with people. It’s the modern Roman Forum where the whole world is gathered. I think the key, if there is one, is to simply be yourself, especially if you want to transmit the Gospel message.  Very few people listen to the sidewalk preacher armed with a bullhorn, and it’s the same thing with social media.  I think we should treat it like we do all our relationships: with genuine love and interest, engaging and interacting with others.  The truth and beauty of the Gospel shines through that.  It’s the old saying of Saint Catherine, “If you are who you should be, you’ll set the whole world ablaze.”

Given that whole world is gathering through social media, we definitely need to be there.  Just like we’d have a stand at a youth congress to promote missions, for example, we can have compelling sites to engage others on social media—and for free! For example, fashion is one of the most popular hash tags on IG, and models have hundreds of thousands of teens following them. If done right, apostolates like Pure Fashion could have a very compelling feed.  I’m obviously not the right one to run it, so consider this a kind invitation to a media savvy Regnum Christi member who would like to take this on and interact with the world of fashion through social media!

You can find Fr. Jason Smith on Also, Fr. Jason collaborates on the blog



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