Diocese of Trenton Social Media Policy and Resource Guide

The Diocese of Trenton's Office of Communications has a Resource Guide available for parish use of electronic technology and social media. It is a timely discussion of prudence, reasonableness and transparency as electronic evangelization becomes widespread.

Our parish will be using an online option for some of our Religious Education classes this year. It's important for all parishioners to be familiar with the diocesan guidelines, which make really good sense in our online world. 

Click here for pdf of "Social Media and Resource Guide" from the Diocese of Trenton

New Links for Hymnal Bookplates and Garden Pavers

Adobe has been warning customers for months that it was "retiring" Adobe FormsCentral since it was not as remunerative as they would like. Unfortunately, we were among its users for all our parish online responses for the church. It's been a bit of a challenge setting up an alternative, but so far we've worked on the Hymnal Bookplate form and the Prayer Garden pavers and they're ready. The old links for the pages will no longer work with PayPal, but the new pages are ready. Please let us know if you have any problems using them.

It will be a while longer before an online version of the parish registration system and votive candles are ready.

Parish Emails and Parishioner Registration Data


For many years now, the school has enjoyed the efficiency and economy of email to parents of our enrolled children. How many remember the weighty "Wednesday Envelopes" which were dutifully carried home by the children each week? 


Parish Electronic Communications Hampered by Inability to Send

Database Email

Unfortunately, the parish has been unable to use email from the database program which keeps our registered parishioners. The problem apparently is a difficulty between our server, our Internet filtering program and the parish database software. Neither software consultants nor our own in-house technology people have been unable to find a solution to allow ParishSoft (our database company) to send emails to parishioners.

Email Addresses Rarely Tested

Our relatively new Ministry Scheduler software allows us to schedule and email our liturgical ministers and generate the weekend schedules, but only them. For all other emailings (including our Religious Education program), staff members have assembled various lists and done small emailings to their committee-sized groups. Sometimes email additions or corrections to these smaller lists do not make it back to the master database.

We'd like to use our email list more regularly, but it is out of date and many email addresses are untested.

When Do We Amend the Database ?

We amend the database when

  • a US Postal service letter or packet of weekly contribution envelopes  is returned for wrong address, or the addressee has moved
  • an email is undeliverable or bounces back
  • someone moves out of the parish bounds and tells us
  • someone chooses to register in another parish and tells us
  • the parishioner asks us to do so
  • reception of a sacrament of initiation, baptisms, weddings
  • we celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial for a registered parishioner 
  • we are informed by next of kin that a registered parishioner has died, or a friend requests a mass card for a deceased registered Holy Cross parishioner

New Diocesan Registration System Automatically Informs Parishes when a Registered Parishioner Changes Parishes

Within the last two years, the Diocese has connected all parishes in the Diocese of Trenton to one registration database which permits a family to be "registered" in one parish only. This prevents someone who changes residences from becoming unwittingly registered in more than one parish. It also automatically informs the former parish when someone "switches" parishes and registers elsewhere. Until very recently, registration data was generally not shared between parishes. 

Update e-mail list and new e-mail program

So please be patient with us as we update our email address list in order to us a new email system. People change their email addresses frequently and we may have an old one. Someone on our staff may even be using your correct email but the main database is inaccurate.

As we check up on the parish database, we will also inadvertenly email some people who never wanted to hear from us again or who have left the parish and/or the Catholic faith. Please tell such people to let us know and we will promptly adjust their record. If they want to speak to someone on the Parish Staff, it might be helpful for everyone concerned.  If we offend anyone by emailing someone who has died, we will say a mass in their memory. We don't want to make anyone angry. We want to quickly inform people who want to hear from us about important events in the parish, or for example, to receive the bulletin electronically just like the school families receive the Wednesday emailings from our school.


Fr Manning

 P.S.  We are planning a methodical parish census to review and update all parish records around Christmas time and the move into our new church. 




The 1000th Post on Diary of a Parish Priest

Well, I guess that is a milestone of sorts. The blog has proven more useful than I thought when I first started it years ago as cyberspace becomes a more important way to communicate - "the information superhighway" (groan). 

There have been a little over 114,000 page views of the blog in that time. Many of the views are surprisingly enough, from Google's image search - people looking for clip art, images I've tagged on the saints or architecture, Respect Life issues, etc.  It's difficult to know how helpful the blog has actually been in communicating parish news to parishioners. Some people still rely on the printed bulletin, a relatively slow moving method. Others primarily check the school website for information they need. In general, I've made it more difficult to leave comments, since the internet is generally not a place people feel compelled to be civil or polite.

In recent months, the blog has been helpful to me in disseminating news about the church construction project. Not only is the information helpful when it's actually read, but having it on the blog contributes to the project's transparency and is at least a rhetorical defense against "I didn't know" or "you didn't tell us."

Not many adults are using Twitter, I'm told, so that I shouldn't expect much of a following on Twitter anytime soon (@PastorHolyCross). I felt like a real rookie when I tried to figure out how to open the account! It seemed a good place to put brief project updates, we'll see.

I found Facebook too intrusive, so I've deactivated my account there, and though I receive many requests from Linkedin to connect, it seems more a business contact model not too useful for a parish. 

The Trenton diocese, like many others, is evaluating the effectiveness of its media communication, particularly the printed newspapers which were established by many dioceses decades ago before the arrival of the Internet, can you imagine? Many of the "The Monitors" we receive are not even taken from the church. Even so, much of the content is available online. Bishop O'Connell has informed us that in the coming months, the editors and circulation manager of The Monitor will be meeting with pastors to explore ways to increase readership of the Diocesan paper. Some of you may know that the Archdiocese of Newark has discontinued publication of its printed newspaper. 

Habits are hard to change, especially when it comes to our most preferred way of gathering information. I remember the resistance to changing the "Wednesday envelope" from printed material to an electronic format. The resources of paper, copy machine time and personnel to collate and stuff all those envelopes seem staggering now that they are saved.

We'll keep experimenting and certainly, for now, keep blogging. The New Evangelization certainly calls for novel and effective ways of communicating the Good News of the Gospel and the practical, everyday work of the parish communities striving to spread it.



Think, Even Pray Before You Post



It's always good advice to think, even pray before you post. The Internet is "forever" as many of our students have sadly learned too late. Since I have always called for responsible and charitable comments towards others whenever email or internet posts have gotten out of hand against a particular student, teacher, or family in the parish, it is appropriate to ask for it again, especially in regard to school families, students, other parishioners and yes, even the pastor.



Church Webcam


Interesting that there have been over 1600 hits to the church webcam in the few days since it's been broadcasting. Still no sound, and a relatively inexpensive camera upgrade is in the works, but the pictures are remarkably clear. The experiment with this free hosting service is working pretty well.

Tomorrow both masses and the morning Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will be online.


Some Google Blog Statistics

A couple of weeks ago, I set up Google Analytics on the site. I thought a few of the results were interesting.



 I was surprised to see that Internet Explorer is the single most popular internet browser but that it accounts for less than half the visitors when compared to other browers combined.

Here are the top 10 locations logged on in recent visits; "Red Bank" is a combined category for Rumson  and Red Bank.