Parish Web Site
Fr. Peter Daly
Our parish has a Web site. This amazes me.
Why does an eternal message need instant communication?
In other professions, despite early promises, computers have not made life better or simpler.
Way back in the early 1980s, when I was practicing law, our law offices got their first "computer," an early IBM PC. It had only enough memory to store a few letters and documents. We stood and stared at it at first. Nobody knew how it worked. It took ages to do a single letter.
But one lawyer talked glowingly about the coming of the "paperless" office. Law books, he said, would be a thing of the past. We would now communicate by blips on a screen.
He retired a few years ago, complaining of the avalanche of computer generated paperwork. Briefs are now longer. People bury you under pleadings.
I escaped into the seminary. You can run, but you cannot hide.
Three years ago, at a meeting of priests, someone suggested that each parish get a Web site on the Internet. The proposal was greeted with amused laughter.
What, we wondered, was so urgent in parish life that people needed to check it 24 hours a day. After all, we have a bulletin and a telephone.
But it caught on. First in big suburban parishes. Then in downtown "transient" parishes, with lots of tourists and conventioneers. Now, even little rural parishes like mine. We are fishing for souls with the an Internet.
So what do we tell people on the Web?
Nothing much they couldn't already get in our parish bulletin. In fact we put the parish bulletin on line.
But we can "hot link" them to other sources of information. For instance, if you want more information on our parish RENEW program, you can get to the national RENEW Web site at the click of a mouse. We can also link people to the Archdiocese and other parish Web sites. Getting excited yet?
I have to confess I love being part of something that is called the "world wide" web. Kind of makes our little parish seem important.
But, I'm still a little uncertain about this Web business.
After the shine wears off, it will be just one more thing that has to be kept up to date, like the weekly bulletin. And people will pay no more attention to the Web than they do the bulletin.
On the other hand, I think the Church needs to be where ever our people are. Today, that means "on line." There are lost sheep in cyberspace.
Moreover, the Church needs to be on the Web to counter the juke. We should be at least as accessible to folks as salesmen of less enduring messages. If people are in chat rooms, Christians need to be in the conversation.
Four hundred years ago the church of Rome greeted the advent of the moveable type printing press with a jaundiced eye. Too bad. Others, saw what a wonderful thing the printing press was and put bibles in the hands of anyone who could read.
We ought not to make the same mistake again.
The Internet still makes me uncomfortable, but I will certainly pass away before it does. We are still fishers of souls, but our boat has a silicone chip.
If we want to catch this wave of evangelization, we need to learn to surf the Net.