The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

The thoughts expressed here are my personal thoughts and sometimes reflect my political views. As a private citizen I have every right to express these views.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some Other New U.S. Bishops' Websites

Every week or so I try to take a few moments to browse the primary website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) not only to keep informed about our bishops' activities and pastoral teachings, but also to check out any new initiatives. One thing that's been evident in recent years is the USCCB's increased and accelerated use of the Internet. This, of course, is in keeping with the urgings of the Holy Father to make use of all forms modern technology in support of the Church's primary mission of evangelization. Today, during my visit to their site, I noticed that the bishops (and their team of web geeks) have been particularly busy in this area, developing several new websites that are certainly worth mentioning.

Campus Ministry: Developed by the bishops' Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, this new website is aimed at college students and campus ministers and has the specific goal of promoting Catholic social teaching on campus. After browsing the site briefly, I suspect the materials would also be applicable for use by a parish's adult education efforts and even for older high school students. It contain lots of excellent resources. The site may be found at: www.usccb.org/campus.


Vocations: The U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations initiated a new website on April 25 as a resource for the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Long overdue and aimed at both laity and clergy, the new site has two key goals:
  1. To help individuals hear and respond to the call by God to the priesthood or consecrated life; and 
  2. To educate all Catholics on the importance of encouraging others through prayer and activities to promote vocations. 
The site can be found at: www.ForYourVocation.org. Later this year -- probably in the fall -- a Spanish-language version of the site will be available at: www.PorTuVocacion.org.

While I haven't yet had time to do more than glance at the site, the bishops' press release claims the "Site elements include discernment resources for men and women, respectively, aids for promoting a vocation culture within the home, and a range of tools for educators, youth leaders and vocation directors including prayers, videos, best practices, lesson plans and vocation awareness programs."

It sounds like a wonderful site, especially for Catholic schools, youth programs, and other parish-based ministries that support vocations.

Marriage. While this website (For Your Marriage) has been around for a while, it has recently undergone some major changes. Not only has it been given a face-lift, with a whole new "look and feel," but it's content has also been greatly expanded. This is a wonderful site designed to support the U.S. bishops goal of strengthening marriage. Since it was first launched in 2007, it has attracted over 850,000 visitors (a lot more than this blog gets), an excellent indication of the quality of the resources it provides.

According the the bishops' press release, the revised site includes the following new features:

  • Daily inspirational quotes about marriage drawn from Church documents
  • A blog by Portland, Oregon, couple Josh and Stacey Noem. The Noems, who are campus ministers at the University of Portland, discuss balancing home and work and handing on the Catholic faith to their three small children. The widely-read “Sarah’s Blog” will continue as Sarah and her husband prepare for the birth of their first child.
  • The Marital Virtue of the Month reflects on a particular virtue that is necessary for a holy and happy marriage.
The site is available at: www.foryourmarriage.org. And earlier this year the bishops launched a Spanish-language version of the site: www.portumatrimonio.org.

USCCB Priorities. Back in my consulting days, I made a point of telling CEOs that the folks they manage really do want to know the boss' priorities. I was always amazed at how many managers kept their true  priorities secret, as if sharing them would somehow diminish their power or authority. Fortunately, the U.S. bishops are very willing to share their priorities with their flock. Indeed, they have created a website that does just that: http://www.usccb.org/priorities/.


The site not only lists their five key priorities:
  • Strengthening marriage
  • Faith formation focused on sacramental practice
  • Priestly and religious vocations
  • Life and dignity of the human person
  • Recognition of cultural diversity
...but also includes a discussion of the goals and objectives necessary to support these priorities, a timeline that addresses specific initiatives under each priority, and a video that provides a good overview.

And so...it's evident that our bishops are making all kinds of good information and useful resources available to us through the medium of the Internet. Take advantage of it and do your part in carrying out our Lord's command to proclaim, "The Kingdom of heaven is at hand."

God's peace...

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