CLIFTON The Paterson Diocese is inviting all of its parishes to take advantage of the opportunity this summer to develop and launch their own brand-new websites that can help them evangelize by presenting visitors with attractive, mobile-friendly and easy-to-navigate designs and content.
On May 28 at the St. Pope John Paul II Pastoral Center here, diocesan officials invited all pastors during an announcement of a partnership with eCatholic, a faith-based website design company, to help parishes communicate more effectively. About 50 pastors listened to a presentation by two representatives of the College Station, Texas-based business: Josh Simmons, founder and CEO, and Joe Garcia, “senior eCatholic evangelist.” eCatholic intends to work on these new parish websites over the summer, so they all can “go live” by September, they said.
“eCatholic provides a beautiful mobile-responsive website solution that maintains a top-notch presence on the web and is easy to update. It has the capability of putting parishes on a standardized system, while allowing them to exercise local control over a customized web presence. It is also amazingly user-friendly,” wrote Msgr. James Mahoney, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the Curia and pastor of Corpus Christi Parish, Chatham Township, in a letter inviting pastors to the meeting. “This is a splendid opportunity to enhance your parish’s mission.”
The diocese launched a new website — rcdop.org — on Dec. 8 last year through eCatholic platform — with the same capabilities that the parish websites will contain. Like the diocesan site, the parish sites will optimize the latest technology for mobile devices, such as Smartphones and tablets, said Simmons.
“The new diocesan website looks clean and contemporary. We can change and update the content at any time. The most important thing is that it communicates the good news of the most extraordinary diocese in the U.S.,” said Father Edward Lambro, development and public relations director of diocesan Catholic Charities and a member of a Communications Department committee that Bishop Serratelli commissioned to undertake the production of a new website. “Also, the diocesan website can facilitate collaboration between diocese and the parishes, communicating better in real time,” he told the pastors.
Parishes can personalize their sites with any logos, images or color patterns of their choosing. Also, these sites are mobile-friendly, accessible from a tablet or smart phone — especially handy, for someone traveling, looking for Masses times of a local parish, Simmons said.
The parish websites will enable users at the parish to edit content directly on a page by adding, removing or changing text, images or video with a “drag ’n’ drop” method. For security purposes, eCatholic also creates a “publishing workflow” that permits various members of the team various levels of access to edit web pages.
Together, these parish sites — in conjunction with the diocesan site — will create a consistent design and way of navigating that will alert visitors that they all belong to the Church of Paterson. Also, the diocese can create content that parishes can “drag ’n’ drop” onto their sites. In turn, content on parish sites, such as Mass times, can be automatically updated on the diocesan site, said Simmons, who emphasized that parishes — not the diocese — will maintain control of their sites.
To engage their visitors, the parish sites will integrate content from various Catholic websites and interface with social media, posting items on or pulling content from FaceBook, YouTube or Twitter — often automatically without users even thinking about it. Parishes can set up registration for events, allowing visitors to fill out forms online and submit them.
“Faith requires engagement and innovation — new ways to evangelize and inspire. These simple tools [at eCatholic] let you to focus on ministry, not technology,” Simmons told the pastors, before he and Garcia took questions from the audience.
The diocese believes so much in the value of this digital partnership that it is making these new websites available to its parishes with no cost to them. Parishes that are satisfied with their current websites can continue using them, said Msgr. Mahoney, while also encouraging pastors to view a video at www.ConnectingTheChurch.org about eCatholic’s recent web partnership with the Archdiocese of New York.
“We just love our eCatholic website for St. Cecilia’s,” Father Sigmund Peplowski, pastor of St. Cecilia and Sacred Heart parishes, both in Rockaway, said. “It is beautiful. We can customize it for our parish. It has been a wonderful blessing,” he said.