Moving forward from the 2018 Diocesan synod, the Catholic community in Vermont now pursues the synod goals of increased and improved evangelization and communication efforts to assist in building more vibrant parishes. These priorities were identified in consultation with thousands of Catholics throughout the state and delegates from every parish.

“Synod delegates stated that Catholics must be intentional in their communication efforts both within the Diocese and outside it, citing standardization, where appropriate, as a worthy goal, so that people can more easily find and share information across a variety of media platforms,” wrote Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne in “Christ Our Hope: Declaration of the 2018 Synod of the Diocese of Burlington.”

This, along with direct requests from many pastors, led to the decision to focus on parish website improvement as the first communication initiative in response to synod recommendations.

As the first step in a multi-faceted planning process to strengthen communication within the Diocese, the adoption of one consistent, high-quality and secure website platform for all parishes addresses all five of the synod recommendations for communication. With a reported 61 percent of parishioners selecting their parish community based at least in part on the parish website and 43 percent of website visits being to determine Mass times, this project furthers the work of evangelization and good communication with those both outside and inside the Church.

Diocesan sharing of functionality within the new website platform allows for an efficient and effective flow of information between the bishop, pastors and parishioners. The new parish websites throughout the Diocese do not replace traditional forms of communication, such as the parish bulletin, but enhance what the Catholic Church in Vermont is able to continuously offer while exploring new ways of communicating.

A committee including representatives from parishes throughout the state as well as diocesan communication staff recommended eCatholic as the best company to work with Vermont parishes to achieve parish website goals. The Presbyteral Council voted unanimously in favor of this recommendation.

eCatholic’s mobile-friendly websites are easy to update and manage. Their dynamic and engaging templates and content create a unified, consistent and connected digital presence for Catholic parishes throughout Vermont .

While standardization is a primary goal, we recognize different parishes have different capacities and needs, so there is flexibility to customize content within the Diocesan-wide, standard template. This allows for every parish to move to the eCatholic platform and offer parishioners and guests an excellent website experience while still operating within their unique parish identity. The communication staff at the Diocese together with eCatholic has been working with each parish to transition in the most efficient, effective and affordable way for their specific situation.

Every parish in Vermont will transition to the eCatholic website platform within the next two years, but many have already launched their new websites. We are excited for the Diocese of Burlington to make this significant step in improved communication for Catholics in Vermont.

Pope Francis says, “Communication is part of God’s plan for us and an essential way to experience fellowship.” We move forward from the Diocesan Synod with hope for ever-increasing experiences of fellowship for all who encounter the Catholic Church in Vermont.

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