Think about your parish website; if you haven’t ever visited your parish website take a moment to look it up now.
Ok now imagine you are a young person interested in meeting other young Catholics on a regular basis to discuss your faith and hang out. Does your parish website provide an up to date calendar with youth events?
We have lots of great Catholic events happening in Australia, retreats, pub events with guest speakers, youth groups, music ministry, debates on tough issues, and the list goes on.
The only thing is we are not communicating these events well.
Youth Ministers often turn to Facebook to advertise their parish events which seems to get great results, however you need to have a person “added as a friend” in order to invite them to an event on Facebook. So what happens to the young person who is not in the inner Catholic circle? To the youth who is not your friend on Facebook? What happens to the young person (one of whom is my 21 year old brother) who has refused to get into the world of Facebook? What if he looks up his local parish website in order to get connected to Catholic events? Many times he finds a stuffy website that hasn’t been updated since World Youth Day 2008 (ok that’s a worst case scenario but those websites are still out there!)
I have checked every Catholic diocese webpage in Australia, some good, some bad and I have looked up many parish pages in my mission to be rid of stuffy websites. Some dioceses have no youth representation online at all. On one parish website in my diocese, the youth page linked to myspace, which may have been relevant 5 years ago, but young people are not using myspace for social networking anymore. When I clicked on the button to take me to the parish myspace page I got an error message, it was a broken link! Sorry but you may have just lost a young sheep interested in joining the flock!
Another horror story was a diocese website in Australia that referenced the phone number and fax machine of a priest who you had to contact to find out about youth events. I know for a fact that the kids at my youth group would hardly pick up a phone and call a priest to find out about events let alone send a fax. Young people want the information immediately and in a convenient way. They want to see an event and a picture connected to the event. They want to know what to expect at the event and know all the details at the click of a button.
It so happens I called the priest whose number was listed on the diocese website, and I enquired about the Antioch events that were being advertised on the diocese website. He was slightly confused because Antioch hadn’t been running in the diocese for years, so my question to him was why was it still on the website?
People are we looking at what we are putting out there on the World Wide Web? Have we updated our diocese website in the past 5 years, 1 year, 6 months?
So I am not one to complain without offering a solution. Here it is - a solution to stuffy websites has been solved by the Catholic Social networking site Xt3. Every diocese has a homepage on Xt3 and an events calendar already built for them, ready to be used, this events calendar can be embedded on any website!
So my parish (St Agatha’s in Pennant Hills) embedded the Diocese of Broken Bay Calendar. I can upload my youth events on the calendar and they are automatically advertised to youth in my parish and to all youth in the Broken Bay Diocese (because the Diocese chose to embed the calendar on the youth website too.) This is great for the parish down the road that does not have an employed youth minister because they can send their kids to my youth group. An event can be added by anyone who is signed up to Xt3, and the site is moderated at all times.
Embedding the diocesan calendar on parish websites is easy enough to do, and many parishes have started to catch on.
If you would like to embed the youth calendar for your parish or diocese.
Please call (02) 9390 5444 or email:
Diocese and parishes who have embedded the calendar include:
The Diocese of Bunbury
The Broken Bay Diocese [url=http://www.dbb.org.au/ourworks/PSU/ym/Pages/default.aspx]http://www.dbb.org.au/ourworks/PSU/ym/Pages/default.aspx
The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn [url=http://www.cg.catholic.org.au/youth/default.cfm?loadref=43]http://www.cg.catholic.org.au/youth/default.cfm?loadref=43
The Sydney Archdiocese
Parishes in Australia have started to embed the calendar too they include:
St Agatha’s Parish Pennant Hills [url=http://www.stagatha.org.au/7718250/ministries-youth.htm]http://www.stagatha.org.au/7718250/ministries-youth.htm
St Mary’s Concord [url=http://www.stmarysconcord.org.au/youth]http://www.stmarysconcord.org.au/youth
The Lakes Parish [url=http://www.youth.lakesparish.org.au/]http://www.youth.lakesparish.org.au/