Our colleague Fr. Greg Friedman mentioned us in the current issue of Catechetical Leader! For those of you catechists who are checking this out, you are seeing the beginning of our Web Catholic blog. The Web Catholic e-newsletter is our first, from St. Anthony Messenger Press, started in 1997, before there really was much in the way of e-newsletters from anyone. Over the years we've published monthly or more often, depending upon the liturgical season, trying to help nurture and cultivate the developing parish ministry of parish webmaster. We provide free features for your parish and diocesan Web sites, and reflections on Web ministry, and good ideas that we come across. Our goal is to migrate Web Catholic to the blogosphere over the next year or so. Meanwhile, I encourage you to sign up for the Web Catholic enewsletter at www.WebCatholic.org, an address that will place you in the right area of our flagship site, AmericanCatholic.org. As St. Francis would say,
Peace and all good! -- John Feister
With the hectic Christmas season behind, you—like many working to make their sites more compelling for Catholics in the community—are making plans for 2009.
We at AmericanCatholic.org want to be a part of those plans to reach out to faith-filled Catholics in new and innovative ways. Among our plans are a much more dynamic home page later this year and the release on Ash Wednesday (February 25) of a new daily Minute Meditations e-newsletter.
With the historic inauguration of a new president and the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade this week, AmericanCatholic.org is here to provide you with tools for your site today and each day throughout the year. Web buttons to our new Respect Life and Top Catholic News areas bring the latest news and features to your users with a click of a button.
We’re in the midst of the special jubilee year dedicated to St. Paul, which runs until June 29, 2009, marking the 2,000th anniversary of the saint's birth. Our link to the Year of St. Paul feature offers coverage of activities during the Pauline year and makes connections with the saint’s message for Catholics today.
The "Portrait of Paul" segment, focusing on the saint and the jubilee year, is one of the weekly features on American Catholic Radio. Post a link on your site to FranciscanRadio.org, home of other Catholic audio features, including Saint of the Day and Sunday Soundbites.
Link to our news feature, The Church, Evolution and Creation, to provide your site's visitors with information about Church teaching on evolution, creation and intelligent design in time for the pubilicity that will surround the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of his On the Origin of Species.
For St. Valentine’s Day, you can help Catholics in your community connect and celebrate faith and love through our special Catholic Greetings e-cards.
As we begin an exciting new year, we have a few questions to ask that will help us give you better tools for your Web-site users. Please give us a hand by clicking on the link here to take a quick survey.
Peace and all good,
John Feister and Mark Lombard
St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Philadelphia, Pa. (Archdiocese of Philadelphia)
This easy-to-navigate site provides useful information about the parish and its ministries while taking advantage of multimedia possibilities. The home page is highlighted by the Mass schedule, a scrolling list of upcoming events and a video of the pastor’s previous weekend’s homily with links to podcasts and video archived homilies. The site’s upbeat Parishioner of the Month, which has featured a couple celebrating their golden anniversary, a lifelong parishioner and new and newly married members of the parish, is an interesting way to focus on the people who make up the community. The site also provides users with a PDF of the parish bulletin, a link to upcoming events, videos and photo albums of parish celebrations, a listing of staff with e-mail hotlinks, sign-up to receive text messages and e-mail updates from the parish, meditative videos from the chapel and directions to the historic church. That history notes the church, built almost 160 years ago to meet the needs of the German-speaking families in the area, was constructed to resemble a hillside church in Germany. There is also a parish group-discussion guide tied to the liturgical year.
VISION: Catholic Religious Vocation Network
For those looking to explore the religious life, this site provides many resources and help in discerning a vocation. The site is sponsored by the Chicago-based National Religious Vocation Conference, which relates to the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious and the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The VISION Vocation Network features a religious community directory, a list of dioceses for those interested in the diocesan priesthood, a collection of resources and a "vocation match" tool that pairs the user with among the 250 communities that best connects to one’s own background and interests. The site provides three blogs for users: "SpiritCitings," for discussion about how the spirit works in the world; "VocationCitings," for discussion about how Christians respond to the vocational call; and "CultureCitings," for all things Catholic. There are also listings of retreats and other discernment opportunities, a guide for articles, resources and interactive features, an “Ask Alice” soul-searching q&a and a “Take Five for Faith” reflection for busy Catholics. If your parish or organization is looking to guide young people or those with a possible deferred vocation, this site may be the next right step.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”
These powerful words from the peace prayer of St. Francis of Assisi have special meaning for those of us working on Catholic Web sites and seeking to keep our visitors nurtured and informed.
As we work to build our Web presences, we should be aware of the tools that others are using and providing to better connect with the needs of those regularly visiting our sites and with those who we have yet to reach.
AmericanCatholic.org is working to provide links that will help your parish Web site to fulfill its mission: to be a growing, fresh, evolving place for parish communications and peace.
Here are some areas that can help your parishioners. The St. Francis feature area includes information about the saint, a listing of pet blessings, and Francis’ commitment to issues of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. On issues touching the Church and the culture, we offer our Year of St. Paul feature, the Election 2008 area which focuses on the connection between faith and politics and the Church, Evolution and Creation feature.
May our work on the Web truly be an instrument of God’s peace.
Managing editor, AmericanCatholic.org
While the summer provides a much needed break for many, it also serves as a chance to prepare for resources for your parish community.
The special jubilee year dedicated to St. Paul, which began last month and runs until June 29, 2009, marks the 2,000th anniversary of the saint's birth. Our "Year of St. Paul" feature offers coverage of the activities and celebrations planned in honor of the Pauline year.
The "Portrait of Paul" segment, focusing on on the saint and the jubilee year, is one of the features on American Catholic Radio. Post a link on your site to FranciscanRadio.org, home of other Catholic audio features including Saint of the Day and Sunday Soundbites.
Link to our new "The Church, Evolution and Creation" news feature to provide your site's visitors with information about Church teaching on evolution creation and intelligent design as the world prepares to observe the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of his Origins of the Species.
The 2008 year in politics continues to heat up. Help your site's visitors understand how the Catholic faith informs key themes in our national political debate by linking to our "Election 2008."
Get the Catholic scoop on the latest summer movies to hit the screens with CatholicMovieReviews.org. Your visitors will find reviews from St. Anthony Messenger, Every Day Catholic and Catholic News Service.
For returning Catholics, be sure to add a link to our Web site OnceCatholic.org: a Catholic site for seekers. You can list your own parish program in the help room at OnceCatholic.org.
Please bookmark this Webmaster's page and come back to pick up future free Catholic features for your Web site!
Feel free to add any or all of these attractive graphic links to the pages of your Web site.
The founder of this valuable Web resource has reviewed thousands of sites associated Catholic, Protestant and nondenominational churches and has compiled a list of “the very best.” Learn good Web site design through these examples as well as design tips (things you should and shouldn’t do). Also, take time to browse the forum for webmasters (a great place for site makeover advice from the GreatChurchWebsites.org president). Also, learn the importance of making sites accessible and how to improve your existing church site so that it is more user friendly for visitors with vision, motion or hearing impairment.
At the beginning of the Church’s “Year of St. Paul,” (which started last weekend, commemorating the 2000th anniversary of his birth) here’s a thought: What will my parish do to reach out more effectively on the Web in the coming year, the parish program year that will start as summer ends? Now is the time to be making plans—there’s time to get ready!
St. Anthony Messenger is committed to helping parishes figure out better how to use the Internet—we see the broad use of the Web as one of the “signs of the times” that recent popes, back to Pope John 23rd, in the 1960's have reminded us to tune into. Our beloved late Pope John Paul II really understood this, calling modern communications the “areopagus” of modern times. That was a reference to St. Paul preaching the Greek philosophers in the Areopagus in Athens (see Acts 17). What will our Catholic parishes say to the world, that is now finding us in new and very immediate ways via the Web?
Better yet, what would St. Paul do?--JF
Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter letter on the Internet: The Rapid Development
Looking to find a role model for your work in communicating through the most modern means the Good News? The Church is providing its faithful a yearlong opportunity to be reintroduced to one who spurned and then proclaimed through his energy and his life the message of Jesus Christ. The Year of St. Paul, launching on June 28 the day before the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, provides the Church a chance walk the path of the most prolific contributor of the New Testament who brought the gospel to many lands in the ancient world unfamiliar with it.
See our special area devoted to the news coverage of 2008-2009 jubilee, including the announcements of Pope Benedict XVI authorized the granting of an indulgence and of the Vatican permitting Catholic parishes may mark the traditional Jan. 25 feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.
Consider placing the Year of St. Paul button on your site which will link your visitors to better understand the relationship of the Christian to the risen Christ and what is needed to live a truly Christian life.