It can be frustrating to hear someone assume something inaccurately about the Catholic Church. You’ve all heard the typical assumptions or flawed interpretations… we worship Mary, we shouldn’t baptize infants, there’s no need to confess our sins to a priest, etc. Not only are these signs that the Church is easily misunderstood, but it could be a sign that Catholics haven’t been vocal enough about our beliefs, or that we haven’t been inviting others to ask us questions.
A parish website feature that could help this problem is an “Ask a Priest” form, where parishioners and visitors could e-mail the priest directly with a question about the Catholic faith. Technically, visitors might already be using the contact form for this, but if there’s no home page call-out or specific wording about asking a faith-based question, they may feel less encouraged to submit their question.
Adding an “Ask a Priest” form could be done in three easy steps for most parish websites:
- First, get your priest on board. If he thinks he may not have the time to answer questions regularly and in the time frame required, maybe this isn’t a good addition for your parish.
- Many sites already have a contact form that can direct to one or multiple e-mail addresses. Add a drop-down menu to your contact form, and label it “Ask a Priest.” Have this menu item forward directly to the Priest’s e-mail address so it is confidential. Be sure to let people know that Father will respond within 24 hours, 48 hours, a week, whatever it is he has agreed to.
- Let parishioners know this is available! Put it in your bulletin, mention it in the announcements after Mass, and most importantly, be sure to have a link or graphic on your home page that directs to the contact form so anyone visiting your site knows their questions are welcome.
The Lenten season might be a great time to test this out! If anyone has an example of a church doing this, please post a link in the comments.