Women @ The Well Website
by Sarah Pedrozo
One of the most challenging aspects of life in a large parish is effective communication about and between ministries. At my parish of St. Catherine of Siena, we have encountered this situation in supporting our various women’s ministries. Although we have several vibrant women’s ministries, they tend to be isolated in their own works and there is almost no communication or support between groups. While the women inside each ministry support and help each other, they rarely support or even know women in other ministries. To help foster a more unified community, I created a website for the women of our parish, called Women @ the Well. The website is open to all women of our parish, plus those who are not specifically within the boundaries of St. Catherine of Siena. We have many women who have moved away, for example, or are spiritual sisters who live in our neighborhood but go to another church. This website offers a way for all these women to communicate with and support each other, while at the same time grow in the faith, through focusing on five aspects: SHARE, LEARN, PRAY, SERVE and BELIEVE.
The first thing I did was register a free account at www.weebly.com . I called the website Women @ the Well, and created a domain name through Weebly of womenathewell.weebly.com. I use the Home page to showcase upcoming events, like the Diocese of Austin’s “Catholic Women’s Conference.” The Home page changes based on current events, so that it is timely and fresh. Then, I created a Wiki for different ministries to share their news. I created an account at www.wikispaces.com, and linked it to the SHARE page on the website. Right now, I am in the process of inviting the representatives of each group to join the wiki. Lastly, I added a LINKS page that has links to local and national groups.
I also built a separate page for the other 4 aspects. The PRAY page is a blog, so that we can post prayer needs, prayers answered, and prayer paths that worked for us. The LEARN page has a blog linked off it, so that we can post comments about an online book club. The SERVE and BELIEVE pages are both standard pages, but I can change the text on them as we develop as a group.
Of course, social media needs to have a presence on the website as well, so I created a Facebook page for the group, and linked it to the website. Although some of the older groups of women are not on Facebook, a surprising number are. Grandmothers love to use Facebook to see photos of kids and grandkids far away, for example, so now that the website is up and running I can ask them to join the Facebook group.
Reaching out to those women not on social media is a way to implement one of the ISTE standards of modeling “digital age work and learning,” in that I can help them learn how to connect online. We are also doing an online book study of a well known but easy to read book called Rediscover Catholicism, by Matthew Kelly. That’s another way to incorporate the ISTE standards, since it promotes learning and posting comments online.
I am looking forward to building this website into an online community where all the women of the parish, as well as our friends who have moved away or belong to other churches, can learn about what we are all doing, can stay in touch with each other and support each other in our ministries and also walk together in our faith journey.