St Irene parish is engaging in web site publication and social media out of a desire to share the good news of the gospel, and to build community with fellow parishioners. We leverage communication channels like Facebook and Google Plus, as well as Google Calendar, and LinkedIn, which many of us engage with anyway in other contexts to exchange information with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.
This page summarizes our intent and our policy for use of the Web and social media. All parishioners are encouraged to read this policy before engaging with our social media presence. It is the policy of St Irene Digital Communications to comply with web and media related guidelines from:
As these guidelines are in many cases still emerging and evolving, it is possible that we could find ourselves in conflict with future guidelines at some point, in which case we will work to bring our digital communications in alignment as soon as warranted and practical.
We are mindful that, like any tool, web sites and social media can be used for both good and bad. Building and protecting community, sharing well intended information for the benefit of the wider community, and asking for help within reason, are examples of good uses of these tools. But the same tools can be used for posting inappropriate information that doesn't align with the Catholic Church's mission, for bullying, or for self-centered gains. This aspect is leading us to advance carefully, restricting who can post content, at least until we build more experience. (Not because we don't trust our parishioners, but because experience suggests that other web users may engage in campaigns against the Church).
The St Irene web site and social media channels are managed day-to-day by our Digital Communications Committee, under the authority of our Pastor. This web site & social media policy is the central governance document, laying out guidance for operations.
- Changes to the 'web site & social media' policy must be approved by the Pastor, who may draw on advice from the Parish Pastoral Council.
- Changes to the web site and social media causing increased expenses must be approved in advance by the Finance Council and the Pastor.
- All other changes to the web site and social media including content, graphic design, navigation structure, update schedules, social media channels, admin access, etc, can be made by the Digital Communications committee without needing prior approval.
Significant changes should be reported to the next Parish Council meeting. Our Pastor retains the authority to mandate changes as needed, and as advised by the Parish Council, including in the extreme, removal of content and/or shutting down the web site or media accounts. The liaison to the Parish Council will regularly report on digital communications to keep the Parish Council informed of both usage, new developments, and any issues to be addressed.
We control who can post content. In public media like our Facebook page, only registered Admins can post new topics, while others can comment. In media with moderated membership limited to current and former parishioners, such as our LinkedIn discussion group, all members can post new topics. We encourage parishioners who want to engage in debate and exchanges to either submit proposed content to the Digital Communications committee, or engage fellow parishioners via more restricted channels, such as direct connections on Facebook or LinkedIn that are not open for anonymous web users to read. We monitor our social media presence regularly to ensure they are being used in accordance with the stated intent, and we will revoke access if necessary.
We strive to provide content focused on our parish and the needs of our community, but also general information about the faith designed to assist us in evangelizing for the faith. We will provide links to relevant sites, such as the Archdiocese, or EWTN, rather than attempt to duplicate what is already provided elsewhere, or could more appropriately be provided there. We want our web site and digital media presence to mesh naturally with that of related groups.
Web site vs Social Media
We are organizing our digital communications in two distinct sets of media. Our parish web site contains the more static body of information, such as parish overview, clergy & staff, contact information, faith formation information, general event descriptions, pointers, etc. This body of information, the web site, will typically have a handful of changes applied per month. We'll add the latest bulletin every week, change a contact name when roles change, etc. Dynamic information, which changes, or is added to, much more frequently, include event calendar, notifications of upcoming events, sharing of parish news and updates, and sharing of relevant media content (articles, interviews, videos). This type of information we share via public social media, which are not hosted on our web site service.
What social media?
St Irene parish uses five specific social media in addition to our web site:
- an organization page on Facebook,
- an organization page on Google Plus,
- a Google Calendar,
- a LinkedIn group, and
- a Yahoo mail group.
There are tons of other social media, some very popular, such as Twitter and Instagram, which could be leveraged in our digital communication strategy. We have settled on the above five for a start, in order to build experience with social media in a parish context. We are curious to hear from parishioners what additional social media you would like to see leveraged by St Irene.
St Irene's Facebook page
Our "Saint Irene Parish of Carlisle MA" Facebook page is a so-called "organization page". It contains news and notes posted by select Admins, mostly people from the Digital Communications committee, representing St Irene. We intend to give Ministry leads, who are active on Facebook, posting privileges as well. The page is visible to all Facebook users, and it allows users to comment on posts. It does not allow users to start a new post. The page is fed "snackable content", little easily consumable updates on parish events, or links to relevant web articles, blogs, news stories, etc. The purpose is to initiate conversation on Catholic and Parish topics. Deeper exploration of those topics can be done within the Faith Formation or Adult Education programs.
The page administrators will remove comments that (a) use unnecessarily offensive language, (b) apply ad hominem attacks, (c) lack basic charity and/or respect for the truth, (d) are off topic, (e) do not presume the good will of other posters, (f) advertise free services unrelated to the theme of the page or discussion, or (g) advertise anything for sale by someone other than the parish or an affiliated group. For example, sales of parish picnic tickets is acceptable. Sales of catechism books, even if sold by a third party, is acceptable as long as the books are used or recommended by our education program. Offering to fix cars, paint houses, or give investment advice, etc, for compensation is not acceptable.
St Irene's Google Plus page
Our "Saint Irene Parish of Carlisle MA" Google Plus page is also an "organization page". This page is visible to all internet users. All this page contains is a link to the Facebook page. This prevents confusion, by blocking others from creating a "St Irene of Carlisle MA" page on Google Plus to interfere with our social media presence. We do not intend to add further content to the Google Plus page. It will remain in place with just a pointer to the Facebook page.
St Irene's Google Calendar
"St Irene's" Google Calendar is intended to list all events and activities in the parish in a single, centralized location. The calendar is visible to all internet users. Only select Admins can add entries, including Digital Communications committee members, and select ministry leads, who are comfortable and proficient with the system.
St Irene's LinkedIn group
LinkedIn is a networking site for professionals. "Saint Irene Parish of Carlisle MA" is a discussion group for parish members only. LinkedIn users must submit a request (on the web) to join the group, and the group owner will check for parish membership. Only past or current registered parish members will be allowed to join the group. The digital communications committee retains the right to remove any member from access at any time for any reason, though this right is primarily intended for prevention of misuse of the group. When LinkedIn users are admitted to the group, their name and profile become visible to other group members, even though they don't necessarily connect directly in the network. Though LinkedIn calls these 'discussion' groups, our primary intent is really to be more open and welcoming to newcomers, to help folks learn who else is a member of the parish, and what they do. Discussions are secondary, but welcome. Only admitted members can start and participate in discussions. It is our policy that the group should be used only for networking, information exchanges and activities that support the Church's mission. The group should not be used for solicitations and unreasonably self-centered gains. It is not a marketplace.
St Irene's Yahoo mail group
Our Yahoo mail group for "St Irene Parish of Carlisle MA" is also for parish members only. This is for e-mail exchanges between parishioners. Subscription to the mail group requires submission of a request at the link above. The owner will grant membership in the mail group provided the requestor is a known past or current registered member of the parish. The digital communications committee retains the right to remove any member from the mail group at any time for any reason, though this right is primarily intended for prevention of misuse of the group. All members can submit e-mails to the group. All members can choose the frequency by which they receive these mails, either every time one is sent, or in a daily digest of mails, or a weekly digest of mails. The daily digest is the recommended subscription. On days when there are no e-mails submitted, no digest is distributed.
Use of Names
We will share names of parishioners publicly on our web site and/or social media, when at least one of the following is true:
- they are also clergy or staff,
- they serve on the Parish Council, or the Finance Council, or both,
- they have agreed to serve as either a ministry lead or a ministry contact, or
- they have agreed specifically to the use of their name on our web site and social media.
We will not publicly share names of any parishioner less than 18 years of age, unless their parent or legal guardian signs a release form allowing use of their name.
Use of E-mail Addresses
All e-mail addresses shared on our web site will be in the stirenes.org domain. We set up functional addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, which forward mail to the personal addresses of the individuals currently in those roles. This approach serves at least three purposes:
- It makes us comply with Archdiocesan policy,
- It allows addresses to remain the same, when personnel changes, as we can just change the forwarding, and
- It protects personal e-mail addresses from address harvesting on the web.
Use of Photos
We will share photos of parish events as follows:
- all photos must respect basic human dignity; a funny photo can be ok provided the subject's intent was to be funny,
- we will remove any photo by request from a parishioner appearing in the photo, or from their parent or legal guardian,
- individuals whose name we'd share under the name sharing criteria above may be identified in captions or other accompanying text
- others will not be named in captions or accompanying text, unless they specifically provide a release.
Photos of children with their faces visible will not be posted without a signed release form, regardless of whether or not they are named in captions.
St Irene's parish is committed to respecting and protecting the personal privacy of our members and those, who visit our Web site. We hope our sites become your favorite web destinations.
Comments and feedback regarding our web site, our social media presence, and our social media policy, can be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.