Boston archdiocesan e-mail initiative reaches out to local Catholics

BRIGHTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has found a new way to communicate with his flock -- via e-mail.

His first e-mail, sent May 24, reached 10,000 inboxes, but the goal is to send a weekly message to at least one e-mail address for every Catholic family in the Archdiocese of Boston, said Scot Landry, secretary for institutional advancement. Landry is in charge of working with Catholic parishes, schools, agencies and individuals to grow the distribution list.

Cardinal O’Malley wants to make sure that the archdiocesan message reaches as many Catholics and anyone else interested in the Church’s ministries as possible, he said.

The title of the e-mail initiative is “Weekly Email from Cardinal Sean & The Pilot” and every Saturday recipients will read special messages from Cardinal O’Malley, content from his blog, archdiocesan press releases, a calendar of upcoming events and resources for spiritual formation. The e-mail will also link to current stories from The Pilot and new programs from CatholicTV.

Currently, the project is the effort of The Catholic Foundation, The Pilot, CatholicTV and the cardinal’s office, but Landry added that other archdiocesan ministries may help out in the future.

Antonio Enrique, editor of The Pilot, coordinates the weekly e-mail.

“For us, this is a natural extension of our role as the communications vehicle of the archdiocese,” he said. “Whether we communicate Catholic news and commentary via the printed edition of The Pilot or through the new digital means available to us, the mission remains the same.”

Landry said, “We are thrilled that The Pilot, as a publishing organization, has taken on working with all the different entities to put it in a great format and make sure that it gets delivered every week.”

The content will keep Catholics “reading and learning about the faith” for an entire week, he added.

The option of sending out one, consolidated weekly electronic message is both efficient and allows the archdiocese to send out multimedia presentations like the presbyteral ordination slide show, composed by Pilot managing editor Gregory L. Tracy, included in the second e-mail message, he said.

Through those photos, Catholics unable to attend the ordination were able to “experience the power of what happened there,” Landry said.

The e-mail initiative is just the next step for Cardinal O’Malley who has already reached out to Catholics through his weekly blog posts, which began in September 2006. The Pilot updated its Web site in October that year and CatholicTV did the same in December. This summer, the archdiocese hopes to expand coverage for CatholicTV on Comcast, Verizon and satellite providers. In the fall, the new Web site for the archdiocese will be launched with Web sites for every parish and school in Boston, said a statement about the e-mail initiative.

Cardinal O’Malley said in the statement, “As we celebrate our bicentennial year, we have been reminded how Catholics have innovated to ensure that the saving message of Jesus Christ reaches as many people as possible. We want to continue that spirit of innovation and evangelization by utilizing the many new communication tools made possible by the recent advances in technology.”

Landry said the cardinal has received feedback from Catholic school principals and pastors who have said that many students in the archdiocese read the cardinal’s blog each week. The blog is an excellent place for young Catholics to learn about the faith because they learn about the Church through their archbishop, he said.

The idea behind the weekly e-mail is similar in that the archdiocese seeks to assist Catholics in learning about their local Church from the Church itself. They will also receive news about the national and international Church through Pilot articles. In addition, they will have information about upcoming events they may want to be involved in, he said.

Landry added that the e-mail initiative will draw the archdiocese together as “one Catholic family.” Hopefully, it will inspire people to be active in and strengthen their parishes and may even inspire vocations, he said.

“The e-mail campaign, first and foremost, draws Catholics closer together,” said Landry. “The more that we’re getting the same news and we know what’s going on and we know how we can be involved in upcoming events, the closer we’ll be as one Catholic family, which is what our archdiocese is.”

Anyone wishing to sign up for the weekly e-mail can do so at the archdiocese’s bicentennial Web site, www.Boston200.org.

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