Social Media Conference Kicks Off FGR’s Familiaris Consortio Lecture Series

Father Gabriel Richard High School inaugurated its Familiaris Consortio Lecture Series on March 10, 2018 with a half-day conference entitled Life: Posted! Social Media and Its Impact on the Modern Family, held at the Michigan League on the campus of the University of Michigan. The conference was co-sponsored by Ave Maria Radio, Emmaus Health, ArborWoman and Notre Dame Club of Ann Arbor.

Faith-filled and insightful talks were presented by Ashley Fernandes, MD, PhD, Rusty Chavey, MD, John M. DeJak, JD and Fr. Todd Koeneigsknect. These were augmented by panel discussions, moderated by Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio, that included Sr. John Dominic, OP, principal of Spiritus Sanctus Academy, Ann Arbor, our own Lauren Post, MA, Dr. Elizabeth Sorenson of Emmaus Health, Dr. Thomas Fluent of the University of Michigan, and Fr. Todd as well as keynote speaker Dr. Fernandes, each providing unique perspectives and anecdotes based upon their professional experiences. The speakers outlined and presented the challenges of our new technologies and then proposed solutions.

Carolyn Palka, current FGR parent, was appreciative for the conference. “I was so inspired by the multidisciplinary panel of experts that was assembled: physicians, educators, clergy, counselors, and media specialists. Each speaker had their unique and complex explanation of what and how social media is impacting the modern family.”

More than a hundred attendees enjoyed the morning of insight and reflection on the challenges that the ever-changing landscape of new technologies present to the family and individual. Dr. Fernandes, Associate Director of the Center for Bioethics at The Ohio State University, entertainingly informed conference-goers with research and facts as well as anecdotes from his own personal life and medical practice. Dr. Fernandes was careful to note that the technologies and social media certainly have benefits and positive attributes. Fellow speaker, Dr. Rusty Chavey, echoed this sentiment with a different angle. “Social media and technology are reflecting problems not just creating them,” he noted in his talk. Having begun his talk with a video of a man, fed up with his desktop computer, deciding to destroy the machine with a sledgehammer, Dr. Chavey humorously noted that we need to seek more moderate and nuanced solutions to the problems magnified by social media use and abuse.

Conference attendee and current FGR parent, Carol Finn, left with a renewed sense that the family and community are key. “We must practice authentic connectedness with our spouses and children,” noted Carol.  “We are called to vigilance when we use social media, so as not to dehumanize others.  As parents, we set the example on social media for our children.”

Visit our Resources page for links to presentations, talks and other information about social media and technology. The Familiaris Consortio Lecture Series will offer its second event next year on March 2, 2019.

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