Officials at the Diocese of Rochester are tapping into the Internet’s potential to reach new audiences and to evangelize.
One of the latest additions to the diocesan Web site, www.dor.org, is a series of podcasts, or digital audio files, that may be accessed via computer and downloaded to iPods and similar devices.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark posted the first podcast, an Easter reflection, on April 9, 2007, and more than 25 podcasts by priests, diocesan officials and parish catechetical leaders have been posted since. The podcasts include question-and-answer sessions; guidelines for the faith development of families; and reflections on saints, feast days, and the ways the church intersects with American culture.
“Using podcasts is a way to reach an audience we might not otherwise reach. It’s a way of recognizing that people look to the Web for information,” said Maribeth Mancini, director of the diocesan office of Evangelization and Catechesis.
Visitors to the diocesan Web site can listen to the podcasts from there, or download them from www.iTunes.com. The majority of listeners download the podcasts from iTunes, but the diocese currently has no means of tracking how many people are doing so, according to Peter Mottola, diocesan Web master.
In early December 2007, the diocese implemented a tracking system on the diocesan Web site and found that the podcasts are attracting new listeners, Mottola said. During the first two weeks of December nine people listened to Father George’s Heyman’s Sept. 25 podcast about the Tridentine Mass on the Web site, he said.
“Even though it was several months old, we still have people tuning in for the first time to hear it,” Mottola said.
Mancini noted that the diocese also has launched a Web site for its forthcoming three-year spiritual-renewal program, which begins this Lent. The site, which can be found at www.RochesterSpiritAlive.org, features an introductory letter from Bishop Clark as well as resources, interviews and other information about the renewal.
In addition, the diocese is producing a series of DVDs about faith-related topics. Twelve new DVDs are produced each year, with six released in September and six more released in February. Diocesan parishes and schools will receive a complete set each year for $75, and they can be used for catechist formation, Mancini said.
“They’re designed to be opportunities for people to grow in their knowledge of the faith. It covers the spectrum of the topics that people need for catechist formation,” she said.