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Steve Hewitt -

Contributing Editors

JUNE 2012

8 10 13 17 19 22 25

Vol. 1 No.2

Special Feature

Patrick Leinen Rev. Michael Boyle, C.M. Joe Luedtke Matthew Warner Nick Padley Kathleen Conklin Stacey Anttila

Copy Editor

Finding Faith in the Cloud

Gina Hewitt

By Will Lowrey Article

Say Goodbye to Sumer Stewardship Slumps with Online Giving By Eleanor Pierce ParishSOFT’s Catholic Conection

5 Ways to Rock Your Annual Appeal By Stacey Anttila - ParishSOFT


Engaging Your Parishioners Online

A Call for a Parishioner Engagement system By Joe Luedtke



Gaining Technical Knowledge on a Budget By Dawn Wolf

Cover Story

Charting our Faith

Use of Computerized Mapping Technology in Our Church

By Larry Newman


CTMag is giving away a NEW iPad3! By Steve Hewitt


© Copyright 2012 by Catholic Technology. All Rights Reserved

By Lisa Eldred

Written materials submitted to Catholic Technology Magazine become the property of Catholic Technology Magazine upon receipt and may not necessarily be returned. Catholic Technology Magazine reserves the right to make any changes to materials submitted for publication that are deemed necessary for editorial purposes. The content of this publication may not be copied in any way, shape or form without the express permission of Catholic Technology Magazine. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed within are not necessarily the views of the editor, publisher, or employees of Catholic Technology Magazine.

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June 2012


from the editor

CTMag is giving away a NEW iPad3! Welcome to our second edition of Catholic Technology Magazine! Thanks for the many emails letting us know you appreciated the last issue. And, while the issues are full of great information, we also want our readers to take full advantage of our Online Community (! There is so much you can do in our community! First, you can share with everyone who you are! Post a picture; tell us a bit about yourself, etc…Community is a powerful thing, and we want our readers to begin to get to know each other. Why? Because together we are a great resource for ministry! For example, join the Ask CTMag community when you log on. Then, whenever anyone has a question or comment, they can post it in the Ask CTMag and we can all help or contribute! Remember, when you join a community, you do NOT have to log back in to see if anyone has left a post. With our community, when you join, you will be sent an email with any questions or comments that are posted. And, you won’t have to log back in to reply. You can simply reply to the person or the group right from your email client. How can we encourage you to give the new Online Community a try? How about offering a FREE iPad3! Join our community and you will be automatically registered for a drawing we will hold on Sept 1 where we will draw a name from our registered users and award them a new iPad3. This magazine is new, and the readership is small, and the online registered users are even smaller. My point is that your chances of winner are REALLY good (grin). So, if you haven’t already signed up, visit and register. That’s all you have to do! There won’t be any additional form or place on the site where you need to register for the contest, just become a registered user for the CTMag Community site and you’re set! Steve Hewitt,

Editor-in-Chief Catholic Technology Magazine

Catholic Technology Magazine®

June 2012


Charting our Faith Use of Computerized Mapping Technology in Our Church By Larry Newman

A s members of the Catholic Church, we as parishioners are each called to follow the example of Jesus in the best way we know, with

the ultimate goal of assuring our salvation by following his teachings. Who among us would deny this as our lifetime goal? As IT professionals, those of us who work within the computer community of the Church attempt to use our skills not only to provide a living for ourselves and our families, but also to assist our employer, the Church, in helping to guide parishes and ultimately parishioners toward their achievement of the same goal.

How, then, can computerized mapping or GIS technology lend itself to assisting in achieving these goals? The Church is facing many challenges today while continuing to reach out to the faith community in a meaningful way to guide parishioners toward the goal of salvation. The Church is a worldwide organization. It is the world’s largest Christian church with over one billion members. The Church is divided into Dioceses, each led by a bishop who reports directly to the Pope in Rome. Within each Diocese, parishes are established. In the U.S., there are approximately 180 Dioceses, and each Diocese has an average of about 100 parishes—which means there are over 18,000 parishes within the U.S. Catholic Technology Magazine®

Each Diocese and each Parish has defined geographic boundaries; and within these boundaries are found the local Catholic faithful. Some percentage of that faithful is “registered” to a local parish,

June 2012



but not nearly all. A typical parish in Dioceses in the eastern U.S. has approximately 1200 families registered—some parishes many more and some less. Usually the majority of the registered families reside within or very near the border of the parish to which they are registered.

As the population grows or decreases in a specific region, it is sometimes necessary to establish new parishes or close down parishes that are no longer self-sustaining. Parishes often establish Parochial schools to provide a quality, faith-based education to the regional community. As demographics within a region change, it is sometimes necessary to build new schools or to close existing schools whose attendance has fallen to the point that it is no longer economically justified to continue its operations. Decisions such as these are made at the Diocesan level by individuals who are not computer experts—they need your help, even if they do not know it. How does a Diocese come to understand when it is necessary to establish a new parish or to close an existing one? How does a Diocese come to know when the age demographics of a region can support a new parochial school, or when a region can no longer feasibly continue to support the schools that have been established in the region in the past? How does a Diocese justify closing Catholic Technology Magazine®

one parish rather than another, or consolidating a number of schools into one? How can a diocese or parish come to understand where there may be opportunities to evangelize within their boundary, and the potential for success in that evangelization effort? How can a diocese or parish understand the extent to which registered and unregistered Catholics are contributing financially to the support of their church as a percentage of household income, and the opportunity that exists for increasing revenues by suggesting a certain level of giving, such as “the first hour each week” of wages? How can a parish seek to identify opportunities for reaching out to its community to provide social services, the extent to which such services are needed within the community, and who within the parish lives within such areas? In the recent past, such decisions were often made based on a best guess of what was happening within a region, and these decisions were often contentious. What if you could assist your Diocese or a Parish within the Diocese in quantifiably answering these types of questions? Each of these questions and many more are currently being answered with the help of computerized mapping technology. GIS has been around for over 40 years, but has become affordable to the Church only within about the last decade. Now the technology is available to all Dioceses and Parishes over the internet. The only thing you need is access to the web and the ability to link YOUR data to data that is already available from other sources. The U.S. government, and most state and local governments have been implementing GIS since the early 1990’s. Data has been developed that shows the locations of populations, along with demographic

June 2012



statistics of those populations to a fairly detailed level. Census data, collected every ten years, is available in a format that is compatible with these systems.

Population statistics, income statistics, race characteristics, and much more are free for the asking. Property ownership data from local jurisdictions, including assessment data and information on the types and quality of homes within an area is often available as well. Aerial imagery is available that visually depicts the level of development in a region, along with other characteristics such a locations of roads, rivers, mountains, and other physical characteristics that may impact the way individuals interact with one another.

Combine this type of data with your data on registered families, registered students, addresses of families in need, etc. and you have a new information system that will assist Dioceses and Catholic Technology MagazineÂŽ

Parishes in their efforts to reach out to the local community. In addition to this use of mapping technology, GIS is now being used to manage and control the operational cost of running parish facilities (scheduling rooms, minimizing energy and water usage, controlling the indoor environment of facilities), managing parish resources, even managing the local Parish or Diocesan cemetery!

Every one of these applications can be handled by the same computer and software technology—generally referred to as GIS. A single computer system, single database of information, and single generic application technology is used to answer this assortment of questions. A presentation and demonstrations of how this technology has been used in Dioceses and Parishes will be provided at the upcoming DISC conference in Arlington, Virginia in early August of this year. All are invited to come, listen, and see examples of how GIS can be helpful in answering many of the questions, such as those noted above, that most Dioceses and many Parishes in the country have been asking. Following the conference, regular columns in this publication will showcase on a monthly basis the types of analyses, mapping, and web services that your Diocese or Parish can take advantage of—some without any cost. We hope you will take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about the many uses of computerized mapping within your Church community.

June 2012



Larry is an active member of the Church of the Resurrection Parish in Burtonsville, Maryland, in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. He has been at Resurrection for over 30 years. Larry is the founder and president of Spatial Systems Associates, Inc. (SSA), a GIS implementation and support firm located in Columbia, Maryland ( about midway between Washington, DC and Baltimore along the I-95 corridor. Since its inception, SSA has been supporting federal, state, county, municipal, utility and commercial customers in the use of GIS technology. Services include consulting, data conversion, custom programming, analysis, map production, and internet hosting/customization. An active member of the Church, Larry has always been interested in the productive use of GIS technology for the benefit of the faith. At Resurrection, Larry is currently serving on the Liturgy Committee, is a regular lector, served eight years on the parish council, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and is a participant in the Parish’s Haiti committee. Larry also serves on the Washington Diocesan Haiti committee, and has provided consulting services for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

(USCCB), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and several regional, parish-based Haiti committees. Larry has traveled to Haiti often over the last ten years in support of many mission efforts. Larry utilizes both his engineering and computer skills to assist the various organizations in completion of their ministries, including development of water projects, sanitation projects, construction of churches and schools, deployment and support of computer technology, and deployment of solar systems to provide electricity. Larry has been applying GIS technology to the benefit of USCCB, CRS, several dioceses, and several parishes over the last 15 years. As the leader of SSA, Larry is very familiar with the variety of GIS technologies available on the market today, the variety of datasets that are available, and the possible uses of GIS within the Church community.



SPATIAL SYSTEMS ASSOCIATES, INC. has been working with church groups for over ten years, applying GIS technology to the planning, reporting, and analysis needs of parishes and dioceses.  Parish Analysis & Planning

 School Analysis & Planning

 Real Property Inventory & Management  Cemetery Management

 Analyses

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Catholic Technology Magazine®

June 2012



Finding Faith in the Cloud By Will Lowrey

Cloud computing is being talked about by everyone. Everyone wants to get into the cloud. Businesses are interested, schools are moving there more and more, and at home, many of us are already there with web mail and photo galleries. Is it time for your organization to consider moving to the cloud?

To highlight just a few of the benefits, we can look at the benefits that a school in my area has already received by making the shift into the cloud. Two years ago, they were given a budget for their technology needs. With more than 500 students in the school, they desperately wanted that budget to stretch as far as possible. Traditionally, the budget would allow for updates to their existing computers, a 10% increase in total computers, and a part-time position for someone to help manage the school’s IT needs. The 10% increase in computers would place them at a 1:6 ratio (computers per student). The school wanted better. The students are growing up in a generation where access to a computer throughout their time in school should not be limited to occasional chunks of time. Instruction was not going to change with the existing plan and that was unacceptable. They had a budget. They had a need. Now, they needed to find a solution. The school evaluated many options in the computers they could provide, but initially, their Catholic Technology MagazineŽ

biggest struggle and cost was in dealing with the licensing fees for more computers. The students needed word processing, presentation capabilities, graphic editing tools, spreadsheets, and much more. The licensing fees alone were forcing them to limit the number of machines or pay expensive site licenses, which cut into the budget even more. Then, they started investigating the possibility of moving their applications to the cloud. They received incredible pricing on cloud-based office applications with Google Apps. They were able to provision their students with email accounts that required no maintenance, online document editing with no fees, and graphic editing applications that were hosted and provided at a controlled and minimal fee. They had found their solution! That year, the school was able to purchase enough computers to ensure that there was one computer for every 2.2 students. This past year, they were able to make another purchase that moved their entire school to a 1:1 ratio of computers to students—achieving the ultimate goal of making technology a huge part of their education-

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SPECIAL FEATURE al experience. That school is just the tip of the iceberg and a small example of what is possible by harnessing the efforts and efficiencies of the cloud. In the church, we talk about the importance of doing what God has called us to do. We can get an understanding of that when our passions line up with our God-given talents. When that happens, and when we spend the majority of our efforts in that part of our life, amazing things occur. The same is true for an organization. Your organization has a mission, right? Your mission is best served when your people are spending the majority of their time using their talents in areas of their passions. Does that mission include keeping up with the latest software upgrades and hardware advancements, ensuring your data is always available, secure, and backed up in case of some disaster— technical or otherwise? I would guess not. You have a mission, and there is a good chance that IT maintenance is a stumbling block in your way. Moving into the cloud can be a way of alleviating the strain and the time spent away from your calling. Remove the burden of having to maintain server patches, ensure that email accounts have sufficient space, applications are upgraded, and data is secured. When I was working with the youth at my church, one of the hardest things to get them to do was go out into the community. They were comfortable with their friends and the environment they knew. Yet, we are all called to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations. The youth found reasons to stay in their comfort zones. Observing that, I had to look around and realize that they learned that coping mechanism honestly. All around them were leaders that were doing the same thing, including myself. We would sit in our offices chained to our computers. We needed our applications and our data. We had everything in the office, and that is where we felt comfortable. But it wasn’t helping us get our work done—not the real work. The tools that were supposed to be enabling our work and increasing efficiency were the same tools keeping us away from the people we were called to serve. How much better could you serve the people Catholic Technology Magazine®

you are called to serve if you were free from the responsibility of server maintenance and security updates? Take it one step further and free yourself from the office with cloud applications, storage, backup, and even secure ways of working on teams from around the world. It can be difficult to make the move, but the rewards are high. Here are a few tips for evaluating solutions for your organization. Step 1 – Honestly Determine Your Needs Take a look at your e-mail needs, your document editing needs, and your storage needs. Does everyone within your organization need expensive versions of office applications? In terms of all of your content, would you be better served by having access to that content all over the globe? Would it free up resources or reduce stress and worry if you knew your content was available 24/7 and always backed up automatically? Step 2 – Consider Your Options There are many options available to solve your needs, and now that you know what you need, focus on the changes that will have the highest impact financially and in achieving your mission. Step 3 – Evaluate and Execute With cloud solutions, there is no requirement to jump in without testing the waters. Get a free trial or contact the company to consider a pilot to a section of your organization. Once you have found the right solution for your needs, take action and start spending more time focused on your calling in life. Will Lowrey is the Director of Product for CX, ( which provides cloud solutions that make it easy to access your content anywhere you go and work with others in secure and private groups. He has worked with youth in ministry, taught technology in middle school, and grew up oversees with his parents working in southern Sudan as missionaries. He and his wife enjoy the adventures of raising four boys in their new home in Texas. You can reach him at

June 2012


Say Goodbye to Summer Stewardship Slumps with Online Giving By Eleanor Pierce

Ito-do f you work in ministry, you know one item on the summer vacation list often gets forgotten: sending off the church offering. Even

faithful givers regularly forget to mail a check before they leave town. That is why most churches see a significant dip in giving over the summer months. Fortunately, many churches, schools, and dioceses are discovering one major way to battle the summer giving slump: offering online giving. “It really evens out our giving – if people are away for a weekend or if they’re out of town, they can set up their contributions before they go,” said Etta Ohrt, director of finance and personnel at St. Rita Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va. “It really helps us with our budget. I wish everyone would do it. That’s why I promote it in the bulletin once a month,” Etta said in the ministry guide Five Sundays: The Power of Online Giving. Many churches are ready to make the leap, but they’re not sure what it will take to get there. The ministry guide Five Sundays: The Power of Online Giving gives information about online giving, but it also outlines a model online giving implementation timeline. The sample timeline below can help your organization plan for implementing online giving Catholic Technology Magazine®

in your church – which would mean you could kiss your summer giving slump goodbye! ONLINE GIVING IMPLEMENTATION SAMPLE TIMELINE 6 Months Before Launch • Form your online giving launch team • Set a target date for online giving

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3 Months Before Launch • Schedule key campaign dates • Choose accepted payment methods 1 Month Before Launch • Begin promoting the online giving ministry o Send out emails


• • • • • • •

o Begin worship anounce- ments Train staff members on posting contribu tions Order the list of published fund codes Test launch the system with a technology-savvy group Link online giving web page across the church website Continue educating members on online giving Provide “getting started with online giving” in - structions Create FAQs based on feedback from your test launch team

Launch Date • Encourage members to start consistently using online giving • Supplement with a strong financial stewardship mes sage

Download our FREE Ministry Guide and f ind out more!

Follow Up • Continue encouraging congregants to give online • Update and keep emails and funds current • Inform people about what their donations have helped accomplish o Have they helped a mis sionary to stay longer in the field? o Have you assisted fami lies after a natural disas ter? • Publish online giving testi monies on your church website

Catholic Technology Magazine®

June 2012


The above is a sample timeline – the individual needs of your organization will dictate the best approach. Regardless of the timeline, implementing online giving is increasingly becoming a “must” for ministry. “I’m hoping in the future more people will use online giving – and when they do, we’re ready for them,” said Father Rick Gremillion, director of Catholic charities and special ministries at the Diocese of Alexandria. “It just makes our lives so much easier. Once you set up people’s pledges, it’s real easy.” WHY PEOPLE GIVE ONLINE A few facts to keep in mind, excerpted from Five Sundays: The Power of Online Giving: • 80% of donors have made a gift online • A little over half preferred to use the Internet for donations • 46% expect to complete a greater share of their charitable gifts via online giving in the future • 92% of givers wanted year-end receipts electronically • 74% found emails explaining how dona- tions are being spent helpful Churches often find that the congregation is ready to change how they give to the church. In the past, most people give to their church once or twice a month based on their payroll schedule. Giving electronically allows them to be more consistent in their commitment to give – even if they are sick, out of town, or are not actual members of the parish. Some of the benefits of online giving include convenience, ability to respond quickly during a crisis, consistency, year-end generosity, and manage and track contributions in one place. Convenience Donors give online for a number of reasons. The most commonly cited reason is because it is fast, easy, and convenient. They feel that making a contribution through online giving is much faster than writing a check. Plus, giving online allows the user to choose if they want to give a one-time gift, set up recurring gifts, or make Catholic Technology Magazine®

event payments. They can also decide which payment method works best for their personal situation. The option to spread payments out over a period of time is a great tool to encourage accurate budgeting while still allowing the person to meet their original pledge goal on time. Many people enjoy the double benefit of tithing and receiving points/rewards from credit cards. The extra perks associated with online giving encourage people to give more consistently. However, churches should encourage the use of sound financial practices to avoid any issues through a financial stewardship message series or providing access to financial planning classes. Responding quickly during times of crisis One reason that people use online giving is because they can give quickly in times of crisis. Whether it is a natural disaster like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan or a crisis in your own community, people have only to log on to your Web site and enter their contribution amount to participate. Being able to immediately respond to situations like these provides a sense of connection – users feel like they are able to make a difference in someone else’s time of need without delay. THE POWER OF FIVE SUNDAYS The concept of having five Sundays worth of giving every month is a compelling one for many reasons. By recognizing that the giving landscape is changing at a rapid pace and offering solutions to your congregation that take those needs into consideration, you will be able to help each person strengthen their spiritual walk. They will appreciate the freedom of being able to give in their own way and in their own time. To learn more about the potential of online giving to improve your ministry’s stewardship efforts and help eradicate your annual summer giving slump, download the free ministry guide Five Sundays: The Power of Online giving today.

June 2012



5 Ways to Rock Your Annual Appeal By Stacey Anttila - ParishSOFT

At ParishSOFT, we’ve been impressed with how Catholic dioceses

have improved their annual appeals through better collaboration with their parishes, implementation of myriad software and process efficiencies, and data management excellence. This month, we’re sharing best practices and successes from two of our users: Carla Haiar, of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, and Tracy Kelly, from the Diocese of St. Petersburg. And we thank Carla and Tracy for sharing their stories with us.

1. A Common “People” Database: Good for Your Budget and Your Reputation In the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, the days of manually reviewing and updating over 36,000 parish registration records in preparation for the Catholic Technology Magazine®

annual appeal are long gone. Today, the parish secretaries protect and manage their own data with what database administrator Carla Haiar calls, “Fierce accuracy!” Not only does the parish data drive the annual appeal process, it is the parishes themselves who maintain full control over which families receive the annual appeal letter. It makes sense—after all, they’re in the best position to know their own families. It took more than a leap of faith for Sioux Falls to make this process a success. Of the 153 parishes in the diocese, the 88 parishes that represent 85% of registered families synchronize their ParishSOFT databases directly with the diocese’s AIM database, which means any time a family record is updated in the parish office, diocesan staff see the change right away. The diocesan data manager keeps family census records for the balance of the

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PARISHSOFT’S CATHOLIC CONNECTION parishes up to date directly in the ParishSOFT AIM database. Having a central database has paid unexpected dividends in an environment where annual appeal season used to mean anxiety. Resistance. Parishes wondered, “What crazy mistakes will the diocese make this year?” Disconnected data among organizations meant the diocese was often mailing to bad addresses, and parish secretaries had the impossible job of trying to match their own parish registration lists with incongruous reports of parishioners who received pledge cards—one year, the mail house even generated those reports in no particular order. Most upsetting to everyone were the appeal letters sent to deceased souls, and the calls from upset family members who rightly asked, “Shouldn’t my church, who buried my family member, know that he is deceased?” Parish and diocesan staff aren’t receiving calls like that anymore. Sharing a common database has given parishes a sense of ownership in the annual appeal; improved the relationship between the dioceses, parishes, and families; and built confidence in the entire process exponentially across the diocese. Read Sioux Falls’ story here. 2. Certify Your Mailing Addresses Returned mail is money down the drain, in postage and in the number of annual appeal donors who may never receive their pledge cards. Having a central database is the cornerstone for good address quality. Running those addresses through the USPS National Change of Address (NCOA) database takes your address quality from good to excellent, and it makes your diocese eligible for the best possible bulk mailing rates. (See Mailroom Solutions for more information on this ParishSOFT product.) Of 36,637 annual appeal letters mailed last year to Diocese of Sioux Falls’ families, only 89 pieces were returned. That’s an impressive 99.76% accuracy, which translates to obvious savings in mailing and administrative costs, and more subtle but equally important gains in confidence across the diocese. Families who receive an appeal letter that has Catholic Technology Magazine®

a correctly spelled name (thanks, parish secretaries!) and a correct address may not consciously acknowledge that their parish and diocese are “on the ball,” but the envelope they hold in their hands most definitely creates a good impression worthy of response. And the 10% of families in your diocese who move each year—and forget to notify their parish offices—will be doubly impressed that their diocese has not lost track of them. Parish and diocesan staff, who have plenty to do besides handle returned mail, appreciate the cost and time savings address certification delivers. It’s another successful cog in the wheel of your overall diocesan appeal processes. 3. Track Pledges and Gifts Using an Integrated System “Integrated” covers a great deal of territory, but it starts with the basics: keep your pledge records in a system that is connected with your parish census records. The ultimate goal of having a successful appeal that funds church ministries requires a strong supporting cast: accurate and timely processing of pledges and gifts, strategic follow-up with the appropriate families, and effective communications and reporting with all parishes. The litmus test: no data should ever need to be keyed in more than once, and the number of exports / imports needed to make your systems and processes work together should be kept to a minimum. For donors, the result is that pledge payment reminders and acknowledgements always reflect the most recent payment and correct amounts (because your pledge intake and entry process is lightning fast!), and they’re always sent to exactly the right people. Parishioners who have told you, “Sorry, I can’t donate this year” won’t receive more letters asking for their pledge. And you can reach out to those who have given in the past but haven’t yet made a commitment to this year’s appeal as you deem appropriate. Parishes responsible for meeting a pledge goal need to know how they’re doing so they can report to parishioners and rally toward a strong finish. In ParishSOFT’s Web-based ConnectNow Diocesan Development Manager (DDM) reports, dioceses can set up goals for each parish and grant

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PARISHSOFT’S CATHOLIC CONNECTION pastors or other parish staff access to view their most current appeal reports any time they like. These same results can also be published live to your diocesan website (or other in-house system) using ParishSOFT’s API / Web Service. 4. Automate Processing Where You Can Annual appeal processing is one place where speed and efficiency are crucial. In the Diocese of St. Petersburg, their steady track of innovation began with switching from an IBM-compatible system that lived on an AS400 server to ParishSOFT’s DDM program in January 2011. From what assistant controller Tracy Kelly tells us, innovation has become an integral part of who they are. Just two years ago, the diocese hired 6-8 extra people to open all the pledge envelopes, sort by payment type, and total batches of 25 pledges apiece for data entry. All this sorting and batching was necessary because the AS400 allowed you to get information out of the system only in the order in which it was entered, which made reconciliation a chore even with the presorting. “Usually we were struggling to be done by June 30, before yearend,” said Kelly. “Today we’ve eliminated the entire batch sorting process, and it’s saved us a lot of time.” Her staff of four full-time employees handle the entire appeal, with no need for temporary hires. And they can get data out of the system for whatever period, in whatever order they like. St. Petersburg also took advantage of a donated letter opener from the Archdiocese of Detroit, which eliminated hours of manual work and helped get gifts into the bank and the DDM system much faster. It opens some 3,000 pieces of mail in about five minutes. Barcoded family and pledge ID numbers on the pledge cards are read by a scanner (available for a highly affordable $150), which brings up the matching family record in the DDM system. Staff need only key in the check number and payment amount, hit the save button, and scan the next pledge. Kelly happily reports that they have seen no errors to date in their 2012 appeal—an improvement over prior years when parishioners would call to report having made a pledge that was never entered (and not reflected on their statement) or, worse, posted to the wrong family. Kelly said, “We’ve cut our processing time in half, so we can spend more time on customer service.” Like in Sioux Falls, the better data quality and efficiencies have fostered confidence in all things related to the annual appeal, paving the way for better collaboration in other areas in which working together will benefit all parishes in the Diocese of St. Petersburg.


LESS. Minister

MORE! Finally! More time for people!

5. Offer Online Giving If you’re punching in credit card gifts on a terminal in your office, or processing them through a service that is “holding” funds or taking a cut that might raise eyebrows, Online Giving offers a better way. “Online Giving has been a Godsend,” said Kelly, who likes that the Catholic Technology Magazine®

June 2012


PARISHSOFT’S CATHOLIC CONNECTION integration with DDM saves St. Petersburg about 3 weeks of processing. “With the push of a button, we’ve entered 750 names and their payments.” Kelly reports that a lot of parishioners were hesitant to send their banking information via the old “provide your account number on paper” method. St. Petersburg is now PCI Compliant with ParishSOFT’s Online Giving service, and parishioners feel better managing their own account information when they go online to make a pledge to the annual appeal. As of late May, the Diocese of St. Petersburg had received $750,000 in pledges from 2,800 donors over a 2.5 month period. For more information on best practices and technology for diocesan development, please contact ParishSOFT’s DDM product manager and diocesan services representative John Biskner, or 866.930.4774.

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June 2012


Engaging Your Parishioners Online

A Call for a Parishioner Engagement System By Joe Luedtke

hances are your church has a Church Management System (CMS). C A CMS tracks your church’s members, their pledges, donation his-

tory, sacramental history, and may help you manage your church’s finances and communication of some information to your parishioners. It’s probably installed on one computer in the office somewhere and, if you’re lucky, it’s networked to a few other machines in the office. Chances are it’s built on such leading technologies like Foxpro, Paradox, or Microsoft Access (please forgive the sarcasm). It may be Internet-enabled but is probably only used for transmitting data to your diocese, to receive software updates, and/or to ensure software license compliance from the vendor. There’s actually more than one of top CMS vendors that believes offering their application on the Web through Microsoft Terminal Services, Citrix, or the like actually makes it a Webenabled application (again, a little sarcasm coming through…).

Beyond the aging technology of some of these systems, I believe the orientation of these systems is wrong. These systems are meant to help you manage your church. Instead, I believe they should be used to engage your church. I’ve seen far too many churches with an underused or unused CMS implementation. Their lament is almost always the same. They can’t get the data they need from the parishioners to make the system really work or it’s too labor-intensive to obtain the data and keep it current in the system. If the system could help engage your parishioners would those same parishioners be willing to self-service their data online? Catholic Technology Magazine®

Many of those same parishioners who have outdated e-mails, phone numbers, and family history in your CMS system have a plethora of personal information out on Facebook and they put it there themselves, willingly! Here are some of the key differences I see in what we’ll call a Parishioner Engagement System versus a traditional Church Management System:

• It doesn’t just store parishioner data but rather encourages parishioners to update and maintain their profiles online. • The e-mail address for each parishioner

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Engaging Your Parishioners Online

• • •

is always known because it actively encour ages parishioners to communicate with the church and other parishioners online. Ministry scheduling is expanded to vol unteer management and people can sign up for events and volunteer online. Your church’s events are published simulta neously to your church’s website and your bulletin. It extends church communication not just to e-mail, but facilitates e-mail newsletters and social media connections via the likes of Facebook and Twitter. It offers a place for parishioners to commu nicate with both church leaders and fellow parishioners online, allowing their community to connect online. Pledges and online donations are inte grated. Not only can parishioners donate online, but they can measure their progress toward their annual pledge. It takes data privacy seriously and compe tently provides a safe and secure online environment.

as FlockNote are looking to fill part of this void as well. I believe the next generation of Church Management Systems is yet-to-be-created, with a few interesting developments starting to appear on the horizon. The next generation Church Management Systems will end up being parishioner-focused, Internet-based, socially-enabled Parishioner Engagement Systems. I can’t wait! Joe Luedtke is the President of the E-giving Division for Liturgical Publications Inc (LPi), www.4LPi. com, an organization that provides print publications, communication solutions, and online donation services to Catholic parishes. At LPi, Joe serves as the organization’s technology evangelist responsible for the organization’s digital strategy and its Internet products and services. Joe and his wife along with their two children live in Wisconsin. Joe can be found online on his blog CatholicTechTalk. com and can be reached at

Besides the tremendous benefit of increasing parishioner involvement, a Parishioner Engagement System gets the church business managers the data they need to do their job. It makes their life easier because now parishioners are willingly sharing their e-mail and demographic data with their church. Some of the leading Church Management System vendors such as ParishSoft are starting to deploy Cloud-based applications with more of a parishioner-focused orientation. We’re also seeing non-CMS vendors begin to deliver church engagement and communication solutions. Here at Liturgical Publications Inc, we recently developed WeGather, our online communication and parishioner engagement tool, and others such Catholic Technology Magazine®

June 2012



Gaining Technical Knowledge on a Budget By Dawn Wolf

When I started working for the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota over 16 years ago, there was not one server in the building. There were plenty of computers but they were not networked. It was the classic “sneaker net” (physically walking a floppy discs from one pc to another to share files) There was no IT director or staff and it cost around $400 for a stick 8 MB (not GB but MB!) of RAM.

When I assumed the role of IS director back in the year 2000, one of my first thoughts was, “I wish I knew what other dioceses, schools, parishes and Catholic entities were implementing and I wish I could talk to them, ask questions and hear about their successes and failures”. Then I heard about an organization called DISC, Diocesan Information Systems Conference, and lucky me they were holding a conference in Minneapolis/St Paul that year, a short four hour drive from Sioux Falls. Attending that conference was truly a revelation. All that I had wished for was there and more. There were so many people there who had a love for the Catholic Church and technology and were happy to share what was working for them. I had found the people who spoke my language (GEEK! I accept the moniker with pride Catholic Technology Magazine®

because I know my talent for technology is God given) and had a passion for assisting our church leaders with spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in new and exciting ways! The knowledge I gained, and the people I met during that three day conference were priceless! I left on fire and with an expanded vision for my own diocese and parishes! I had so many business cards from IT folks from all across the US and Canada who told me repeatedly, “Just call or email me anytime, I’m happy to speak with you”. Twelve years later, I am still attending the annual DISC conference and am still leaving with valuable knowledge, new ideas, new contacts, and personally renewed in my mission to assist the Church. I have also been able to give back and become a resource for other attendees and organizations.

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DISC On behalf of the DISC community, I invite you to join us at this year’s conference being held on August 1st -3rd in Arlington, VA at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel. All are welcome, whether you work for an organization within the Catholic Church or are a Catholic who happens to work in the technology field. There will also be an optional pre-conference day on July 31st with two training workshops focusing on information security. One is a lecture type session geared for management personnel entitled “Information Security Trends and Strategies” and the other is a hands-on class entitled “Ethical Hacking Basics” (this class, which is in a lab setting, has a limited number of seats available). We start our conference by celebrating Mass together and Mass is offered each day during the conference. Celebrating spiritually with each other reaffirms our ultimate goal which is to help one another get to heaven. All we have to do is watch the news telling us of one security breach after another to know that information security is a topic that we must ac-

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quire a great deal of knowledge about and quickly! To that end, this year’s conference theme is “Information & Security, A Monumental Mission for Our Catholic Church”. You will have the option to choose from two tracks of breakout workshops, one track that is geared for those desiring a management perspective on the topics and one for those that would like a more technical view on a topic. There will be excellent general session speakers from Microsoft and a cyber-security field agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you are within driving distance of the Arlington, VA area, you are in luck as you have a special opportunity for one, two or three day passes to the conference. In the past I have always found the workshops and presentations during the conference to be helpful and informative but one of the most valuable sessions is the round table discussions and diocesan panels that are offered during the conference. The round table session is a chance to sit down with other attendees at a table where the discussion topic is pre-determined and hear what

June 2012


solutions are working for them and what isn’t working. Some of the past round table topics have included topics like Migrating to Exchange 2010 and Windows 7, or Backup and Disaster Recovery solutions. This year’s diocesan panel is on data collaboration tools. You will have an opportunity to ask questions of three different IT professionals about their collaboration solutions and how it is being used in their organization. Some of the other breakout topics to look forward to are the Mobile Device Security presentations, Innovations on a Budget and the Creating a Security Culture (creating a security training program for end users). For a complete schedule and listing of topics, please visit the DISC website We all know that in any endeavor that you undertake, you need good partners to help you along the way. When you attend a DISC conference you have a chance to meet a whole host of possible partners in our exhibit hall. Many of which are long-time supporters of DISC and true partners of the Church. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that “there is a time for every purpose under the heavens”. There is a time for fun and fellowship during the DISC conference as well. As a group, we will be enjoying a dinner cruise on the Potomac River and gathering again on Thursday night to partake of a special meal and enjoy the talents of the comedy troupe, Capitol Steps. You will find many opportunities to meet other technology professionals during our lunches and various breaks throughout the day. The great thing about the DISC organization is that it doesn’t begin and end with an annual conference. There is an online forum for collaborating on technical, spiritual and moral issues, an electronic library of forms, policies and procedures shared by other members, professional development in the forms of webinars throughout the year and DISCount purchasing programs for hardware and software. I sincerely hope that you consider joining us in Arlington on July 31st-August 3rd. Please visit our conference website for more information and to register. If you are looking to build your technical knowledge in a faith filled and very economical way, we are the organization for you! Catholic Technology Magazine®

Dawn Wolf has been with the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls for sixteen years and has been the Director of Information Systems for the last twelve years. The technology office is a team of three and their responsibilities include the support and strategic management of the technology and telecommunication needs for the diocesan administration offices, various remote offices, over 150 parishes and more than 90 priests. Dawn led the initiative to standardize software in all of the dioceses’ parishes and schools and has led the implementation and training of that software for the last seven years. She also implemented regular user group meetings to further understanding and facilitate better usage of the software. She regularly teaches classes on various technology topics across the diocese. When all training was cut from the diocesan budget, she and her department dubbed it “The Year of Training” and held monthly “Lunch and Learns” for the chancery staff and surrounding parishes. Her “Top Ten Programs Every Computer Needs” for general users and “Internet Safety Jeopardy” class geared for kids are especially popular. Dawn is currently serving as the Vice President of the Diocesan Information Systems Conference (DISC) as well as a diocesan advisor to ParishSOFT, LLC. Dawn is a 1989 graduate of South Dakota State University and has certifications in Network+, Security+, and Microsoft as well as Netware Administration. She has been married for the past 22 years and has been blessed with 2 children. Dawn and her husband Darwin are active in their parish in numerous capacities and the Sioux Falls Catholic School system which their children attend. When the logic of the technology field gets to be too much, she turns to making jewelry and creating multi-media presentations to satisfy her creative side.

June 2012


5 Tips to Internet Safety on Smartphones By Lisa Eldred

U ntil recently, there was an app called “Girls Around Me” that consolidated public data from Facebook and Foursquare and listed the fe-

males (or males) nearby. It was legal, if creepy, and it was the perfect tool for so-called pickup artists: “Hey, do you remember me from [listed high school or workplace]?” “Yeah, this song is okay, but it’s not my favorite type of music. I’d much rather listen to [girl’s favorite band].” As Internet-enabled devices, smartphones and tablets come with unique risks and temptations, and apps like “Girls Around Me” should bring special concerns. The Facts About Smartphones There is a growing shift in attitudes toward computers, phones, and Internet use. One estimate states that 35% of adults own smartphones. Another says that 73% of kids have a mobile phone by age 13. Teens and young adults in particular use smartphones. One study found that 51% of 18-34year-olds own smartphones. Meanwhile, 49% of teens use the Internet on a mobile device. In short, many people find that their smartphone is enough, and that computers are no longer necessary. “I know people who got their Android phone and they just don’t use their computer anymore,” said Tom Schultz, a software developer at Covenant Eyes. “They just don’t care because you can do all your web surfing, all your applications, your YouTube, everything right on the phone.” Unfortunately, this increased use of mobile Internet also leads to an increased misuse of it. Nearly 1 in 5 searches made from mobile devices

Catholic Technology Magazine®

are for pornography. Furthermore, 24% of smartphone owners have porn on their handset, and of these, 84% said their romantic partners did not know about it. With this growing source of temptation, both for pornography and questionable apps like Girls Around Me, it is absolutely critical for adults to protect smartphone use for themselves and their children. Here are five tips to consider for adults and families to use smartphones safely. 1. Install Accountability Apps By now, most parents are familiar with general safety tips for computers, such as keeping them in a public place. By removing the secrecy of Internet use in this way, it decreases the temptation for Internet misuse. Because of the intentionally portable nature of smartphones, extra steps are required to provide this same level of transparency. Fortunately, several Accountability apps exist. These apps monitor the websites visited through the app and send a report of Internet use to a selected Accountability Partner. This reporting of the websites actually visited leads to productive conversations about Internet use.

June 2012


Covenant Eyes is the major player in Internet Accountability software for computers, and offers Internet-monitoring apps for iOS and Android devices. The Covenant Eyes app for Android also monitors which other apps are accessed and reports them. The Covenant Eyes apps are free to their subscribers. Covenant Eyes user Dwayne Moore recently explained why he installed the Android app on his smartphone: “My phone’s got a big screen and fast Internet access. That’s an invitation for temptation. Knowing someone else can see what sites I’ve browsed really helps keep me in check.” He added, “Just the other day I got a Twitter message from a girl named ‘Artie.’ Artie’s avatar was a picture of her legs crossed in a mini-skirt. I was tempted to click the enticing link she sent me, but then I remembered the covenant I’ve made with my eyes ‘not to look lustfully at a girl’ (Job 31:1). And I also remembered that Covenant Eyes was on my phone, so I deleted Artie’s message really fast!”

In some ways, innocent sounding web-accessing apps are the biggest danger. Popular apps like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube offer unmonitored (yet limited) Internet access. Since social networking can contribute to divorce, and since many YouTube videos are inappropriate, it is important to discuss these apps as part of conversations about Internet use. Monitoring app use is easy for users of Covenant Eyes for Android; the app records all other apps accessed. Otherwise, parents, spouses, and Accountability Partners should periodically ask to look at the user’s smartphone, asking questions or expressing concerns as appropriate. If the person has installed an app called “Roll a Joint,” for example, the problems are fairly intuitive. 3. Remove Apps for Sites that Can Be Accessed Via a Browser Some websites have created apps simply to provide a better experience than the browser. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube all work on In-

2. Talk About App Use One of the biggest benefits to smartphones is the ready availability of apps. In fact, 29% of adult cellphone users use apps. Many of these are harmless or even helpful; it’s doubtful that the app for the budgeting site will be used inappropriately. Similarly, many popular game apps such as Angry Birds are more likely to be risks in terms of time misuse than access to inappropriate content. Schultz explained, “You could see, ‘Oh, Tom has played [an air hockey app] for six hours today,’ which probably means he’s not outside, he’s not reading a book, or talking to people, so you probably want to call him up and say, ‘Maybe you should put the air hockey down.’” When the theme or content is a problem, it will frequently be obvious from the title. Catholic Technology Magazine®

June 2012


ternet accountability browsers, for example, but have dedicated (free) apps. While it is often easier to navigate these sites via their apps, they can also be misused, as in Moore’s tale. It may be appropriate to lock these apps down or delete them. The Accountability user should access such sites via a monitored browser. Apps with built-in browsers should also be an area of concern. 4. Lock Down Apps As Necessary Those who receive reports for a teen or someone who is struggling with app misuse may want to lock down their phones so they can only download apps that have been specifically approved. Even for those who don’t struggle, this may be an appropriate step. Scott McClurg, Client Relations Manager at Covenant Eyes, has his apps locked down on his iPhone; he can only purchase them if his wife unlocks them for him. “This way she doesn’t need to worry about what I’m doing on my phone,” he said. “It’s a good preventative measure.”

5. Carefully Monitor Kids and Teens In addition to monitoring their Internet use through an accountability app, kids or young teens should be watched closely. Dan Lohrmann, Chief Technology Officer for the State of Michigan, recommends allowing kids to share a mobile device (in his case, an iPad) among the entire family, rather than allowing each child to have his or her own smartphone. In his own family, he has found that, in addition to giving him and his wife control over app use, sharing the device has provided additional benefits. For one, it promotes sharing. He explained, “We use the single device as an opportunity for them to learn how to take turns and appreciate what valuable time they are given on the device.” In addition, his kids use it for educational games. “Our kids are getting smarter thanks to the energy and ‘buzz’ created by having the opportunity to use [my wife’s] iPad,” he said.

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Connecting through a Universal Faith By Nick Padley

I’d like you to pause for a moment and take a guess at how many

Dioceses there are in the United States. Before you open up your browser and type the question into Google or go and search Wikipedia, see if you can come up with a number. Think you have it? Now you can go and run your search. How well did you do? Did you think that I was actually going to provide the answer here? That wouldn’t be as much fun! This is an article dealing with technology and I would be remiss if I didn’t provide one or two ways of using it. The reason for the tease is to underscore how readily knowledge can appear at our fingertips. If I were to look at the devices each person used to look up the answer to my question, I’d see a conglomeration of windows machines, Macs, iDevices, Android phones and tablets, blackberries, Nokia phones, and probably a number of other systems. There’s even a global stat counter at http:// In a world where knowledge is becoming a global commodity, I sometimes wonder where faith fits into the mix. It seems to me that while technology continually pushes for a global focus, faith falls more and more to a local focus. I have noticed a trend of smaller churches starting up in homes, art studios and other spaces. They are, in essence, micro-churches. These days, anything using the word micro indicates a popular meme. People can microblog, and even microfinance. For a global Internet, things are getting awfully small. My theory is that as we have begun to connect globally, we have gravitated toward those that have a similar focus in whatever niche we belong. In terms of communication and connection, the Catholic Technology Magazine®

Internet really has just globalized the niche. So, rather than helping people to connect, share ideas and learn from each other, people are separating themselves more and more into various interest groups. How does this relate to the Catholic Church? Because I believe that the Catholic faith is perfectly tailored to remedy this problem. If this sounds like a pretty good stretch, then I would suggest that you haven’t run the search to see how many dioceses there are in the United States. I’d like to go back to January 25, 1985 for a moment. I won’t make you search for the importance of the date—it was the day that Pope John Paul II convened a Synod of Bishops and decided to publish a catechism. That decision set forth something that would take seven years to complete: a full summary of what the Church teaches. In Fidei Depositum, Pope John Paul II set forth the publication of the catechism and remarked, “I declare it to be a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith.” In essence, the Pope underscored the universal aspect of the Church. Catholicism is not made up of a bunch of smaller churches that believe what they want, but rather it is made up a universal teaching that stands on the four pillars: Creed, Sacraments, Commandments and Prayer. Not coincidentally,

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the Catechism of the Catholic Church organizes itself in the same manner! This means that from this one document, we have a comprehensive teaching that is universal. The same truths that are taught here in the United States happen to be the same truths that are taught in South America, Europe and all over the world. Regarding technology, I think this makes Catholicism a unique candidate for the Internet. Rather than having a niche audience, our faith truly has a global audience. For this reason, I think that Catholicism is perfectly suited to help us all connect. In fact, I think the Church has already solved the problem of bringing people out of their niche groups. In Her wisdom, the Church created the concept of parishes, where Catholics all gather on Sundays. In our parish, we connect with people who would otherwise be outside our experience. However, parishioners are all united by a common faith, which opens up opportunities for discussion and learning. I would argue that through the concept of the parish, the Church has connected people more effectively than Facebook. Thinking to the technology aspect, this means that the market for Catholic related technologies is huge – there are over one billion Catholics in the world and we are all linked by one common faith. One of the best uses of this concept that I have found is an iPhone app called Divine Office. The application itself is designed to present the Liturgy of the Hours for daily prayer. One thing that the Church teaches is the universality of prayer. The Liturgy of the Hours is a universal prayer that can be used to devote each hour of the day to prayer. The Divine Office app has small globe that, when opened, shows small points of light across the globe, which are all the other people praying using that app at that moment. Catholic Technology MagazineŽ

As I am writing this at 4:30pm, there are currently 363 other people now praying with me in the same app across the world. As I watch the globe rotate, I see points of light in Europe, South America, the United States, Canada, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and many other places across the globe. Going back to the search for the number of dioceses in the United States. The actual number is larger than I thought. There truly are a lot of opportunities for evangelization. From my perspective, technology is perfectly suited for our faith as it is one of the few things that brings people together on a global basis. Knowing this, I challenge you to find new and innovative ways to connect Catholics across the globe. Much like in parishes, you can provide a gathering area for those of the same faith. Then, send them forth to continue the great task of spreading the faith across the globe.

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June 2012 Issue