With the Help of Diocesan Communications, Bishop Boyea Evangelizes His Flock
The kindly countenance of the first Bishop of Lansing, the Most Reverend Joseph Albers, smiles down upon David Kerr as he works at his desk on the top floor of the Diocesan Center in Lansing. The early-20th-century oil painting is a reminder to the diocesan director of communications of a professional and personal pilgrimage that has brought him across the Atlantic Ocean from Scotland to Michigan.
“Such is the wonderful, exciting and ever-surprising providence of God,” says David.
“My wife and I were visiting family in Michigan three years ago when it was made apparent that the Diocese of Lansing was seeking a new director of communications. So, we pondered, we prayed and we discerned that this is what the Good Lord was calling us to do – and here I am! Deo gratias.”
David, 47, is a native of the city of Glasgow. He studied at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland’s oldest university. In 1996, he joined BBC News as a graduate trainee and went on to spend “12 happy years” working as a senior broadcast journalist with BBC News in London and Glasgow. In 2010, David was recruited by the bishops of Scotland to develop and implement a media strategy for Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit to Scotland. Before joining the Diocese of Lansing in August 2019, he was director of communications with the Archdiocese of St. Andrews & Edinburgh. David is married to Jackie, whose mother hails from Okemos, and has three young children: David, John and Margaret.
“We haven’t regretted our transatlantic relocation for a moment, either personally or professionally,” says David.
“All across the Diocese of Lansing, there are so many good people doing so many great things for the love of Jesus Christ and his holy Church. To be able to tell their story and, in doing so, help draw souls closer to God, is a lovely privilege and a task I have very much relished since arriving here some 20 months ago.”
Over those months, the statistics for the Diocese of Lansing’s Communications Department certainly make for impressive reading: Facebook followers up by over 220%; Twitter followers up by over 500%; Diocese of Lansing website traffic up 400%; a new Diocese of Lansing YouTube channel with over 4,000 subscribers; a new Diocese of Lansing podcast that’s now onto its 25th episode; and a new, weekly direct e-mail from Bishop Boyea that reaches more than 36,000 subscribers every Friday.
“A huge amount of credit has to go to Bishop Boyea, who is always so enthusiastic and supportive of all our initiatives to better communicate the person of Jesus Christ, and his holy Church, to a contemporary world in desperate need of his divine healing love,” David says.
One example of Bishop Boyea’s enthusiasm has been his video reflections on a range of topics which have been regularly broadcast via the diocesan social media channels over the past year. Each set consists of seven reflections.
“That all began last Lent when, very sadly, public worship was suspended. As we approached Holy Week, Bishop Boyea decided he would like to employ the modern means of communication at his disposal to preach to the people of the diocese on the Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross,” explains David.
“Those Holy Week meditations seemed to be very well received and reached a big audience, and so Bishop Boyea has continued with, now, 12 further collections of meditations ranging in theme from the ‘Seven Sorrows of Mary’ to ‘the Seven Sacraments’ to ‘Seven Reasons to Pray for the Dead,’ with each drawing upon the bishop’s particular gifts as a good shepherd and a great teacher.”
The Communications Department for the diocese is “small but perfectly formed,” says David. It consists of a graphic designer, Michelle Hildebrandt, who also maintains the diocesan website; an administrative assistant, Bianca Murray; and a part-time cameraman/editor, Tom Shannon. According to David, all three are “bursting with creative talent and apostolic zeal.”
None of this, of course, would be possible without the annual Diocesan Services Appeal, which funds the work of the Diocese of Lansing Communications Department.
“I’ve been bowled over by the kindness and generosity of Michigan Catholics in general and, in particular, the lay faithful of the Diocese of Lansing, and to them I say, ‘Thank you, thank you,’” says David.
“I think there’s a recognition that, in terms of apostolic responsibility, we are all in this together; we all have a responsibility to evangelize our families, our friends, the wider culture; and we all have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters in doing so by embracing prayer, fasting and almsgiving in order to aid our apostolic endeavors, including our diocesan Communications Department.”