Like other seniors who find themselves housebound due to illness or infirmities, Bruce MacVicar was bored.
Now, however, the 75-year-old’s quirky sense of humor and isolated hours at an aging computer has generated more than 9,500 LinkedIn connections and nearly 5,000 Twitter followers.
His remarkable social media affirmations are MacVicar’s tangible rewards for a homegrown evangelical Catholic ministry that combines unrelated topics – dog jokes and quotes from Jesus, news from the Church, and connections with Catholic outreach efforts.
“I am only an amateur humorist at best, but it is the sheer volume of jokes that come out of my head that fascinates me,” he says. And that his funny bone remains intact is rather remarkable, considering his circumstances.
Beginning in 2009, MacVicar’s wife Ann has suffered a series of falls and broken bones rendering her bedridden for most of the day. In spare moments, MacVicar turned to his aging computer and reached out for inspiration.
“There are definitely enough people to talk to,” he says, noting the burgeoning ranks of social media users. He knew he could use his background as a crisis and job counselor to assist others but wasn’t sure how to begin. Then he began remembering some key moments in his past and went to work.
Before Ann’s decline, MacVicar used to walk through their Laguna Niguel neighborhood early each morning for exercise. Once he was ‘locked in’ at home, those treks sparked his creative juices as he recalled the growing numbers of dog-walkers he encountered.
So, when he asked himself, “What could I do from home?” he recognized his new vocation. “I saw the niche and began writing dog jokes,” he says. To date MacVicar has published about 10,000 dog jokes, many of which have prompted retweets and personal notes from readers.
A recent joke that readers liked read like this on Twitter: “Know what happens when you put boxing gloves on 2 Boxers & put them in the ring? You get 2 dogs who can’t walk well.”
Still, he didn’t stop with canine humor; instead, harnessing his deep Catholic faith he began to evangelize to other lonely souls.
It’s safe to say that MacVicar is an online original, since his eclectic Tweets and LinkedIn posts are mixed in with dog jokes with Bible verses and other inspirational messages. “I began with the gospel of Matthew and worked my way through the book of John in my New American Catholic Bible,” he explains.
One quote from Scripture retweeted from his feed was this: “Jesus said, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man & drink his blood, you do not have life within you. John 6:53.”
Occasionally, an atheist or critic will shoot back against MacVicar’s spiritual postings. “Sometimes I take the bait, but that’s not my strength,” he says. “I try to do it in a kind way.”
MacVicar thinks his current online efforts have their roots in an upbringing amongst an evangelical Protestant family whose members were encouraged to continually witness their faith to everyone who crossed their paths. “The main focus was on saving people. I was very much steeped in that.
“I know the Lord more intimately through the Eucharist and the sacraments and I have hope,” he adds. “There are a lot of people out there without hope. How can I help someone else to find hope? I’ve got to go out and share the gospel, to get them right with God and give them hope.”
It comes naturally for him to link readers with what’s going on in the Catholic world and to write about the work of other ministers and friends like Father Joe Rodriguez, who heads the Salvatorians order in Milwaukee.
“I think it’s interesting that I’m connecting to an infinite God and created in His image, and somehow I can come up with an infinite number of dog jokes,” he says. “That kind of fascinates me.”