Catholic schools, Catholic press set up post-hurricane info blogs

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- To help hurricane-displaced Catholic students and teachers, the National Catholic Educational Association has set up Web logs -- in essence, Internet hot lines -- to help displaced families find openings in Catholic schools, link displaced Catholic teachers with possible jobs elsewhere and inform families when schools closed because of Hurricane Katrina will reopen.

In a similar vein the Catholic Press Association has created a Web log, called a blog in Internet parlance, to assist editors of Catholic newspapers affected by Katrina.

Once the New Orleans Archdiocese re-established its Web site Sept. 5, the blog it established under the "forum" link soon hummed with activity. In less than 24 hours it had more than 50 message strings going with information about archdiocesan parishes and schools, and thousands of people had already read its announcements. The Web site is www.archdiocese-no.org.

One of the NCEA blogs is called a "school status database" for all the dioceses affected by the hurricane. It provides the names, addresses and, where available, contact information for all Catholic elementary and secondary schools in those dioceses. It allows the dioceses or their school administrators to fill in information about the date the school plans to reopen or to estimate how long it expects to remain closed.

Until a school enters its own information, its opening date is listed as "to be announced."

One of the first postings under a blog forum for Catholic school responses was a note from Rosemary Bratton, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Venice, Fla. She said Catholic schools in that diocese would seek to enroll displaced students, providing them with backpacks and school supplies and working with parishes to help locate housing for the students and their families.

The NCEA Web sites are http://ncea.catholic.org/phpbb and http://ncea.catholic.org/katrina. Catholic Online, an Internet site of Catholic news and opinion, helped the NCEA create the blogs and has links to them at the top of its own home page, www.catholiconline.org.

Within each of the main blog sites are a number of links, including a site where displaced teachers and directors of religious education can advertise their need for a job and another where schools and parishes can advertise openings for such posts.

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, which is part of the NCEA, set up a site on its Web page, www.accunet.org, for information on Catholic colleges affected by Katrina and alternative enrollment possibilities for affected students.

Catholic Online, working with the Catholic Press Association's board of directors, also set up a blog for internal discussion among Catholic editors for advice, assistance offers or other discussion about the aftermath of Katrina and how to help the people and the Catholic editors affected by the storm and floods. That site, http://press.catholic.org, is also accessible from Catholic Online's home page.

The Jesuits were among the first to establish a post-hurricane communications blog.

To help the scattered students, faculty and staff of Loyola University of New Orleans, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities began posting information on its site, www.ajcunet.edu, about Loyola and options available for displaced students. It also helped some of the displaced university personnel create a blog for members of the Loyola community to tell one another where they are and how they can be reached.

Copyright (c) 2005 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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