Since the 2018 Diocesan Synod, the Catholic community in Vermont has been pursuing the synod goals of increased and improved evangelization and communication efforts to assist in building more vibrant parishes; a focus on parish website improvement has been one of the first communication initiatives.

“I really like the eCatholic tool. I think all the parish (sites) using it that I’ve seen look very clean and appealing,” said Arthur “Jay” Fisher, website administrator for St. Joseph Cathedral Parish in Burlington. “The website is about good marketing.”

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.

“Our traffic has increased month over month since going live in early October,” Fisher said, noting that there were 564 page views by 178 unique users on Christmas Eve alone.

Mass times, bulletins, calendar and news sections are the most visited pages. Photo albums, music, architecture and Vietnamese Mass all have page views in the hundreds.

The average visit lasts more than three minutes, with an average of more than three pages visited.

“Our Contact Us, Join our Parish and Join the Parishioners’ Email List form have had good response allowing us to update our census data,” Fisher reported.

“I was speechless when I saw the amount of traffic on our website,” said Father Lance Harlow, cathedral rector. “It confirmed for us the value of putting in the time and energy to make it accurate and also attractive.”

Fisher said eCatholic is versatile and easy to use, but he emphasized the importance of keeping the parish site up to date: “We want to keep our parishioners informed and interested in what is next.”

The quality of parish life brings people to the website to find out more about the cathedral, and the website attracts people to Masses, devotions and programs. “What we do as parishioners is on the website, and what they see on the website keeps them involved in the parish,” he continued.

But the site is welcoming to visitors too. “The cathedral has become a place of pilgrimage for so many visitors,” Father Harlow said.  “That means essentially, with the decreased number of families in the downtown area that our Mass participants are coming increasingly from outside the parish. So, we need to attract their attention and draw them in.”

And according to the metrics collected on the site, that concept is working.

“We want the site to be the first stop for our parishioners and visitors by having

lots of content available as close as their smart phone,” Fisher said; more than half

the visits are from people using their cell phones.

Every parish in Vermont will transition to the eCatholic website platform within the next two years, but many have already launched their new websites.

To see the cathedral website, go to stjosephcathedralvt.org.

—Originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.

 

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