How important do you think a parish web site is?


#1

I’m asking this question in the Liturgy and Sacraments forum because a significant part of the information on a web site is taken up with liturgy and sacrament times, sacrament preparation information, and contact information for the clergy and laity who handle sacramental preparation.

Obviously no parish is required to have a website. And it would make little sense to have a website if most parishioners and visitors to the parish lack internet access.

If a parish does have a website then that creates a certain obligation on the parish to make sure the information provided is up to date. When visitors expect that that there will be a Sunday evening Mass at 6:00pm and find out it has been changed to 5:00pm they are not going to be happy. (Yes, it is nice if visitors check by phone but there is not always someone in the office, the automated list of Mass times can also be wrong, and one shouldn’t be calling an emergency number to check Mass times.)

Now obviously a parish can have a very simple one page website or a parish can have a grand production with tours, bible studies, and recorded homilies. A parish could have it’s own domain name or it might make use of a free page.

So I guess the question is, with the limited resources a parish has, where should spending time and/or money for a website fit in the hierarchy?


#2

I think that every parish in 2012 should certainly have a website. I cannot imagine why any bishop in the US or any industrialized country would think differently. Regardless of staffing, any parish should have some volunteers able to administer a website.

Any time I encounter a business or organization without a website, I automatically think: If they don’t even take themselves seriously enough to be on the web, why should anyone else take them seriously?


#3

Agreed. That’s the nature of current communication. The website is where people look for info. Gotta have it, if the money can be found. It does not cost much to have a website, in fact free space can be found with some ISP’s, and hopefully a parish volunteer to run it. But you may have to pay someone…


#4

Web sites are good, but only if they’re going to be updated, especially bulletins. I don’t want a paper bulletin, as they just turn into clutter. I skim the bulletins to see if there is anything important and relevant to me, and that’s it. My parish takes forever to post the bulletin online. :mad:


#5

I am on the Social Media Committee for my parish and we’re developing a Wordpress website. You can use a free media hosting site like 000webhosting.com, or if a parish member is an IT person they might have a host server already that they could donate space on. You can always check with the diocese in your area about website options, too. They might have a webserver for the diocesan parishes. There’s also catholicweb.com.

The only cost you usually incur is the cost for the domain name and GoDaddy charges about $8, if you use a free hosting solution.

With Wordpress, or Drupal, Joomla, whatever , you use a content management panel to dynamically manage the site. So you don’t have to know any HTML/PHP/Javascript. You just have to be able to input content and be willing to have fun building the site.

:slight_smile:


#6

I think it is incredibly important that every parish have a website if the resources are available. Also it must be responsibly maintained.

My Diocese has its own server will host a parish’s website on there, for example:

Diocese of Springfield Website: www.dio.org

Cathedral Parish Website: www.cathedral.dio.org

St. Joseph Parish Website: www.stjoseph.dio.org


#7

Start out with something simple, perhaps with the basic information of mass times, various contacts, and something that needs changing only once per week, such as the readings for the current and next Sunday, and your weekly bulletin if you have one.
Put a site counter on your website to see how many visitors you attract.

My experience is that the larger your congregation, and the more events, religious and social you have going on, the more elaborate will be your website and time consumed in keeping it relevent. Again, keep it simple until you find out how and how often it is being used.


#8

If the Church wants to minister to young people in the United States, they NEED to have a website, probably a facebook page as well. These sites must be kept up with current information and regular announcements. There are ways to do this for free or very cheap.

As much as I love my parish, they are still communicating by sending letters through the mail. Sometimes they send a letter to every person in every ministry, sending one to my husband, and another one to me. Some things are organized by phone. I’m 34, and for me, it’s just easier, cheaper, and more efficient to use email and texts. Most of those heavily involved in my parish are older people and many don’t have email or cell phones. I’m a person with a degree of devotion to the Church, so a few inconveniences won’t keep me from being involved. But imagine someone who recently graduated college and moves to a new city for their first job. They might have nominal or fragile faith, but have a slight interest in Sunday Mass. If that person isn’t able to reasonably find their geographical parish online with up-to-date information, there’s significant chance they might just give up. For many young people, not having a website would be like not having a phone to the rest of us.


#9

How long did the RCC survive without a website?

I think its totally over rated and being up to date is easier said than done. As I still pick up the phone and call due to mis information on the website.


#10

At this day and age, very important


#11

I find them incredibly useful.

Not necessarily my own parish’s, but the websites for other parishes.

When I travel for work, or on vacation with the family , I will usually use Masstimes.org to find a local parish with a convienient Mass time.

But I will verify the Mass time via the parish website first. That came after I got ‘burned’ by showing up for Mass in a small town, only to find out that they had different Mass times during the summer.


#12

Our Parish website is manned by volunteers and it's great.

Any time I encounter a business or organization without a website, I automatically think: If they don't even take themselves seriously enough to be on the web, why should anyone else take them seriously?

 :thumbsup:

#13

I think that a bad website is worse than none at all.

If a parish does not plan on updating their website regularly, they should probably stick to a simple site with just the basic info: address, phone number, Mass times, etc.

CatholicWeb.com will host any parish website for free. You just have to allow them to put up their advertising. If you don’t want that, you can pay a little to have it taken off and get your own domain name (rather than home.catholicweb.com/yourparish). Their design options are somewhat limited, but if you’re just looking to establish some web presence, they’re a good option.

If a parish is looking to do more, there are plenty of Catholic entrepreneurs out there who can help out (such as myparishwebsite.com).

I know that most of us, being that we are ourselves online, are in favor of websites. But try convincing a pastor of four rural parishes with a max of 50 families each, all with aging populations, that he needs to devote time and resources to making a website. If he responds positively at all, it will probably be to say “Thanks for volunteering!” :slight_smile:


#14

As a parish that caters to a seasonal and vacationing population I find that our parish is best served to have a web site that is current, informational and user friendly. We are working to make it all three but are not quite there yet.:thumbsup:


#15

I suppose I can add my own experience.

My parish has had a webpage since 1997, or 1998 or so. It started out as an extension page of a parishioner’s personal webpage and my parish got their own domain name a year or two later.

I worked for my parish as an employee from 2000 to 2002 and web commerce, email, mail merges, and instant messaging played a big role in helping me to do my job. After that I went to work for a couple of businesses for which Catholic parishes and Catholic schools were the major clients. Parish websites were vital resources for me. It was a huge help to know who at the parish to contact. It was especially useful to have email contact information (at least for the schools and parishes where they actually *checked *their email.)

In my experience, the quality of the website was a decent indicator of how efficiently the parish/school was run on the business end of things.

I don’t always have reason to check my own parish’s website but I frequently look at those for other parishes when I am going to be traveling or want information on how to send flowers for a funeral.


#16

There are several reasons for every parish to have a web-site and most of them revolve around communication. The amount of information that can be centrally located for the parishioners access would of course be very important, but as someone who travels quite a bit, providing access for Mass times, confession, etc., is very important to me. I have even seen parish web-sites with on-line rosary links. I really appreciate these web-sites and the people who maintain them.


#17

Today - very important. I look at my parish website two or three times a week. I look at the parish’ site near my office once a week. When I read the schedule for reading is on the site with a link to the USCCB readings for that day. Simple. I wish the EMHC schedule was on the site - sigh. Our St Leo’s site was just redone last week. in Norther VA it is expected you have a site - Fairfax is rich, well educated and full of goverment computer contractors.


#18

Very important.

Just last night I was googling parishes in my area for mass and confession times.


#19

I think every parish should have a website if possible. I understand some lack the resources. But for those that can do it, a website is a great aid! They have helped me quite a few times. Also, this is kind of weird, but when I’m bored and have nothing to do, usually when trying to fall asleep, I’ll browse through parish websites. I just think seeing the different setups and what they’ve done is interesting.


#20

I agree. A parish near me still has the wrong time listed for weekday morning Rosary, despite me emailing them a year ago and telling them that it was wrong.


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