This weekend I learned, during the announcements at Mass at the main parish, that our parish is looking for a “communications minister.” The deacon who made the announcement humorously stressed that this would be a “ministry,” by which he meant a purely voluntary, unpaid position. The person who signs up is supposed to create a new updated parish website (for, I’m guessing, both the main parish and our mission parish), establish a social media presence on various platforms, set up some email and texting options, and so on. Once everything is set up, it is being assumed--rather optimistically, I think--that the volunteer will “only” need to spend about five hours a week maintaining everything. For free.
On Facebook today someone mentioned how difficult it can sometimes be to get in touch with one’s parish. The person who posted was trying to find out specific information about an upcoming parish event, and the information was not available on the parish website or through the “phone menu.” When a real live office person finally answered there was reportedly a bit of grumpiness involved. I’ve had that experience as well over the course of my life, and I’m sure many of my fellow Catholics have, too.
Then again, I’ve known other priests who insist on answering the parish phone themselves whenever possible, and this can be equally difficult on some occasions. I’ve always hated to interrupt a priest during what is usually a busy day just to ask some little question that a parish secretary could theoretically answer as well (if not, let us be honest, better in some instances). I doubt I’m alone.
From the priests’ side of things, though, I’ve heard that it can be extremely frustrating when the phone rings and rings and RINGS so that, thinking it must be an emergency, Father dashes to answer, only to have a brusque person asking what time a daily or Sunday or Holy Day Mass will be--information that is actually available on the parish website, even if it was designed by an organizationally-impaired and colorblind computer novice thirteen years ago and never updated since. Some older priests have adjusted extremely well to the new communications technology, while others have not--and some younger priests are so used to being contacted on their cell phones by anybody at any time that they can’t understand why older parishioners don’t call when they need him (because the older parishioners were raised in a more polite era where phone calls to a priest meant somebody was dying).
It’s interesting to ponder all of this, because our faith is one that is centered around Communion. Yet sometimes we’re not very good at communicating with each other.
Does your priest/parish have the “communications” thing figured out? What works? What doesn’t?