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Paradox of the Parish Web Site

By John Bookser Feister

Two-way Communication

Universal, Yet Local

Most of us take our parish bulletin for granted. Yet in it we find the pulse of our parish in the coming week and beyond. The best parish Web sites start with the bulletin’s mission, add the reading rack and build from there. And, unlike bulletins, they are never lost.

Our Lady of Peace Parish in Marshfield, Wisconsin, ( is a good example. It has a bulletin board, prayer resources, Scripture notes from the pastor, a memoir by a senior parishioner and is unified with the parish school page. This Web site is about people in community.

Two-way Communication

Two Holy Family parishes show more. One in Stow, Ohio, ( allows parishioners to share what they like best about being part of Holy Family, and has another area for sharing brief personal witnesses to faith. There are schedules, a map with directions, a welcome to new parishioners and an archive of a lively parish newsletter. Holy Family in Pasadena, California, ( boasts much of the above, with a search option. There is a multitude of content here, including resources for conducting a do-it-yourself, faith-sharing get-together in your home. Parishioners are invited to sign up for a parish e-mail newsletter list, a valuable supplement to the parish Web site of which we’ll be seeing more.

Our Lady of Victory Parish in Baltimore ( has a Bible quiz and a poll. Whom do you address in prayer? (God the Father was winning over Jesus and the Holy Spirit when I voted—recount, anyone?) Like many sites, it has a guide for Confession and other useful tips for Catholic living.

Universal, Yet Local

The paradox of parish Web sites is that a page accessed 'round the world might be most powerful as a way to help people in neighborhoods stay in touch with each other.

The best parish Web sites are posting prayer intentions that allow everyone, everywhere to pray for each other’s particular needs. They have links to parish-sponsored programs. They find clever ways to build a sense of community among the faithful. They use the Web to help people live, work and pray together face-to-face.



Web Pick
Father John Stryjewski of Birmingham, Alabama, hosts this incredible Catholic index site of questions and answers, catechetical topics, parish lists, Catholic colleges and oodles more. His motto, from Cicero: “Celerius opiniône” (“Faster than one would think”). The Alabama padre wants you to sail through his site.


Initiated by Catholic Internet pioneer Father Pat Umberger, this site shows what an ambitious parish Web site is all about. It’s chock-full of resources, parish life and lots of links, including signups to Father Pat’s Morning Prayer e-mail newsletter. Note there is no www in the address.

Here is the Web site for Catholic News
, the official news agency of the U.S. Catholic bishops. The day’s top stories are posted each afternoon, Monday-Friday. It’s possibly the best and most reliable Catholic news service on the Internet, along with Vatican Information Service at

GROW YOUR FAITH ***********
Liturgical Publications of St. Louis hosts this home of a Patron Saint index, the Daily E-Pistle (a daily e-mail service that gives the day’s Mass readings and a reflection), readings, reflections, polls, quizzes, news and chat.

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