WELCOME TO OUR GUEST BLOGGER, THERESA SALAZAR!
I really needed to update my faith formation program! No, not the textbooks, catechist materials, or catechetical methods. These were current. I needed to update our internet presence, or rather our non-existent internet presence. We had no website. Yes, I can understand your gasp of utter shock. You are probably saying, “What century do you live in!”
Actually, I was born before the internet was invented. My children taught me how to use the computer and after listening to warnings about the “dangers” of the internet, I learned how to cautiously search for information, documents and websites. Soon it became second nature to go to the internet for all types of information and communication. So why didn’t our faith formation program have a website?
When I was hired as Director of Religious Education eleven years ago only the secretary had computer skills. That soon changed and as a result all our record keeping, forms and some communication became computerized. We were humming along with e-mail, internet access, and had Wi-Fi available for our catechists in the building. I was happy, until. . . . .
A few months ago I was invited to attend an on-line class about using social media to spread the good news of the Gospel. I had never participated in an on-line class and thought this would be a good way to update my computer skills. I signed up for the Digital Discipleship Boot Camp which was a four-month class that met online every two weeks. We covered the importance about using the internet to evangelize and communicate using the different social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and many others, the usefulness of wikis, blogs, websites and cloud based tools, and the different websites that have free pictures and tools available. As I was learning all this it struck me that our own program did not have a website. But, what could I do? I had heard that websites were complicated and expensive to build.
One of the classes had talked about websites that allow you to build for free and were simple to use. I decided to look at these websites and see what I could do. I explored two websites, WordPress and Wix. I found that Wix.com was easier than WordPress. Wix was a drag and drop type program similar to Publisher or PowerPoint.
I signed up for the free website at Wix and chose a template for my homepage. As I worked with it, I didn’t like how my homepage was turning out, so I changed the template. From there I learned how to add titles, more pages, subpages, pictures, documents and calendars. I was amazed at the things I could do, and there is so much more that I haven’t even tried. The more I did the more I wanted to do. For example, I posted all the information and requirements that I thought were needed about our First Communion program. Then I thought it would be convenient for our parishioners to have the registration forms available, so I learned how to add those as PDF’s. Of course we always give out a calendar when parents register their children, so why not put that on the website as well? Now I’m thinking it would be great if we had a way that parents could pay the registration fee with a credit card, and I should have a page for quick updates and reminders or use a Twitter account for that. I could put a link on my site to my Twitter account (@therese_salazar). The ideas and possibilities are endless!
I am just beginning my website presence. I’m just learning, but if I can do it, anyone can do it. Remember, I was born before the computer existed. I was born when television was still black and white, and here I am creating a website! Is my website awesome? Is it stunning?
No, right now it is basic, very basic. But for me, that is more than what we had a few months ago. With this site our Faith Formation program will be adding a much-needed and updated method of reaching out to and communicating with our parishioners. As time goes by I hope to make it better and more interactive. Am I happy now? Yes. I am happy because we are able to reach out to the new generation and work with them in the way they know and understand. Am I satisfied? No. I know that this is just the beginning and I still have a lot more learning and work to do.
In the meantime, check out my website. I have not gotten a domain name or linked my website to our parish website because our pastor wants to update the parish website and has asked me to wait until that happens. But, until then my website can be found at: www.theresesalazar777.wix.com/mysite-2
Therese L. Salazar,MA
Director of Religious Education
Our Lady of Belen Church
Belen, New Mexico