The intersection of media and the new evangelization at Grotto Network
In the modern world, the context of “evangelization” has changed. The term used to mean introducing Jesus to peoples who had never heard the news of the Gospel, but today, at a time when information about Christianity is both familiar and accessible, a “new evangelization” has emerged. The term, popularized by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, refers to the idea of re-proposing the Gospel in a context where it has been dismissed. Grotto Network, which began in 2017 as a project under Father Jenkin’s office, responds to this call to deeper faith with a unique approach to media and Catholic community.
Online, in real life, and even on a Catholic campus, young people face a secularized world in which the Gospel is frequently dismissed. Today’s young adults face challenges that are both universal parts of life — relationships and career discernment — and unique to the current times — navigating the unprecedented amount of information presented to them on social media. Social media plays a large role in modern life, but it does not often provide resources that support and develop the person, foster genuine community, or present messages in the context of faith. Grotto Network does this and more.
According to senior editor Josh Noem, Grotto Network, launched in 2017, is a different kind of digital platform. It aims to help the Church “embrace the new form of media as not just a way to share the Catechism or invite people to a retreat, but as a way to actually walk with this generation, as they navigate life, make an impact, and keep the faith.” Noem told the Rover that Grotto Network wants to be “a top resource for students as they work through the challenges of discernment and relationship in college and a purposeful career after graduation.”
Grotto is a Catholic platform, but one whose mission is not necessarily to teach the faith, but to “help students see the Church as a resource to help them mature in relationships with God and to build community around.”
Grotto Network recognizes that what happens inside the Basilica is the source and summit of our lives. However, their mission is accomplished primarily by walking with young people outside of the Basilica doors to hear how God is moving in their lives, what God is asking them to do, and how they can live generously. According to Noem, “That’s where we want to be. We want to be telling stories and building community with people who want to find new ways to live faithfully, generously, authentically, and boldly.”
Notre Dame freshman Sophia Frisbie told the Rover she enjoys reading Grotto Network because “their topics are relatable and their advice is practical. My favorite thing is the fact that all of the articles are very personal, so we can see the impact that this advice has made in their lives. And I love how there are so many uniquely Catholic aspects, like Lenten resources and reflections on the saints.”
The video stories, weekly newsletter and social media presence of the Grotto Network go beyond in-depth knowledge of the Catechism or explicit faith connections. The sense of companionship they offer makes them a gift for the Church and a valuable integrated resource and community for young adults as they navigate life, search for community, and journey in faith on Notre Dame’s campus and beyond. Headlines like “What I Learned About Relationships as a Child of Divorce,” “The Saint Who Helped Me Regain My Trust in God,” and “Meatless Friday Recipes” promise content that brings the Catholic faith into the realm of everyday action.
Bridget Stockrahm is a freshman from South Bend, Indiana. She can be found playing euchre, wasting flex points on green tea lattes, and biking around campus, though not currently, because she forgot where she locked her bike. If you notice an abandoned bicycle near Debartolo Hall, you may reach her at email@example.com