St. Bonaventure’s reaches out online

By 
  • October 19, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO  - A Franciscan friar has found a creative way to reach out to people sitting outside the pews in front of their computer screens.  

Friar Richard Riccioli, OMF, has recently added podcasts, blogs, web forums and e-newsletters to Toronto’s St. Bonaventure parish web site, www.st-bonaventure.ca.

As Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins encourages, “we’re reaching out not just to the gathered, but (also) the scattered,” said Riccioli, pastor at St. Bonaventure. “There may be people who aren’t with us on Sundays, but who are exploring and searching, so we want our information online to reach out as best we can.”

Riccioli got tired of making posters for events that weren’t attracting crowds. He also wanted to reach young people who frequent Facebook and MySpace more often than Sunday Mass.

“We’d love to have more people join us (at Mass), but perhaps people on the margins don’t feel comfortable to do that yet.”

Riccioli posts the weekly Sunday Gospel reading and homily in a podcast format and writes regularly in his St. Bonnie’s Blog.

“I posted some stuff about faith-based education and that got visited by people from all over Canada, the United States and all over the world,” he said.

He added: “People have e-mailed me after hearing a homily (online), so it’s like using mass media to intensify what we do in the parish.”

The web is a good place for conversation that acts as an additional forum to share and educate about the faith, said Riccioli.

“The homily is a very specific forum of education, that’s not the time to do a lot of stuff we need to do like talking about the HPV vaccination and perhaps be a bit more challenging.”

The parish web site also offers internal forums for the parish council and other ministries to discuss  issues, post information and share documents.

Parishioners can sign up for an e-newsletter to update them on upcoming events or other important news. The Sunday bulletin is scanned and saved as a PDF file for people to download, save or print.

Riccioli’s idea to add these tools came from the success of the new Covenantal Franciscan web site www.franciscans.org.

“We realized people are approaching spirituality differently now — online.”

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