The Archdiocese of Boston’s web site, www.rcab.org, recently underwent a little nip and tuck — or is that cut and paste?
The much-needed facelift comes as the web site enters its eighth year. Deacon Charles Cornell, the site’s webmaster, began the renovation three months ago. Putting in hundreds of volunteer hours as he poured over the 2,500 pages that made up the old web site, his finished product was revealed on Aug. 1.
According to Deacon Cornell, the “impetus” for the change came from the “increasing necessity to have up-to-the-minute newsworthy items” on the web site.
"During the clergy abuse crisis we, as an archdiocese, saw how vital it was to post information on the site," he said.
"More and more, people are looking for their information from this site," explained Deacon Cornell. "This new format will hopefully make it easier for people to find whatever they are looking for."
According to Deacon Cornell, over the past year there has been an average of 72,000 visitors every month — although some months have seen a surge in interest.
For example, he recalled that on May 25, the day the results of the archdiocese’s reconfiguration process were announced, the site was flooded with visitors.
For Deacon Cornell, the popularity of the web site is gratifying indeed.
In 1996, when he first approached the Archdiocese of Boston with the idea for a web site, the concept was not met with much interest.
"There was always an awareness on my part that this was an important component for the archdiocese," he remarked. "But the people who didn't use the web didn't see it as vital for the archdiocese."
Ultimately, when the web site was launched in the fall of 1996, the site contained little more than information retyped from The Boston Catholic Directory.
Even The Pilot was reticent about transmitting information on the web site. For three years, no stories were posted other than Cardinal Bernard Law’s weekly column.
"The web site, as it was developed, depended on the pro-activeness of agencies and parishes to regulate and update the information posted," explained Deacon Cornell. This resulted in much of the information to be outdated or incorrect, he explained.
In the spring of 1997, volunteer Ann Orlando assumed the responsibility of helping the various ministries and offices within the archdiocese to develop their own sub-sites.
"Ann did a yeoman's job until she resigned in 2002," said Deacon Cornell.
The site began to be used as an effective communications tool during the clergy abuse crisis and has continued to be instrumental in providing timely information in the months following the scandal, Deacon Cornell added.
Currently, “the site is used by all kinds of people for all kinds of services,” said Deacon Cornell. He hopes the new site will continue to help people throughout the archdiocese. “It’s funny — I feel a bit like a father witnessing the birth of a child. My hope is that this site will serve the Church.”
The site will continue to be hosted and maintained by Multi-Media Communications Internet Services, Inc., founded by Deacon Cornell in 1995. Further information about the company is available at www.mmcis.com.