Sometimes a little reminder can make a big difference.

Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish in Bennington and St. John the Baptist Parish in North Bennington are using a service called Flocknote to correspond with various segments of the church community through their inboxes and via text message.

By organizing the parishes into different groups and ministries on Flocknote, messages get to exactly those who need them. Members can reply directly to any email or text message, vote in polls and RSVP to events.

“The emails look very different from your normal email. They are colorful. A save-the-date feature can be used. It saves messages and replies. It allows us to be creative when reaching out to others,” said Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales parishioner Tammy Buckley, one of the first to use Flocknote. “Being able to send a text message to 400 people is a wonderful tool, and we can also track our open rate for messages.”

The Bennington and North Bennington parishes use it to communicate with all who are signed up announcing events such as the bishop’s Catholic Town Meeting or for reminders for Holy Days. Sometimes a spiritual note is sent out to uplift their day. Ministries use it to communicate with altar servers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and faith formation classes.

Kathy Murphy, director of religious education at Sacred Heart St. Francis and a parishioner of St. John’s, is a Flocknote administrator and uses it to communicate with faith formation families and families receiving sacraments. She sends communication and “marketing” notes to the parishes’ users; Flocknote allows the two parishes to have one account.

She subscribes to a Flocknote option to get daily emails with two or three paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church each day called “Catechism in a Year.”

Flocknote is a way of staying in touch with those who go to Mass and those who do not. “It can be a quick text or a newsletter. The sender can see who has opened the communication. People’s worlds are busy and many people have said how much they appreciate a text reminder,” Murphy said. “I think the reminders enhance participation in events.”

Susan Altland of St. John the Baptist and Sacred Heart/St. Francis parishes, noted that Flocknote has changed and grown since she began using it. “You can now send a test email to yourself, forward messages to individual people and have so many more graphics and headers, and it is so much more user-friendly than when we first started using it six years ago.”

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—Originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.