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CURRENT ISSUE:  September 5, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
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The Diocese of Oakland will soon launch a new Internet website that allows for better management and the latest interactive tools. The site name remains the same — www.oakdiocese.org.

“In every age of her history the Church has used the best means of communication available to proclaim the truth of the Gospel,” said Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone in a statement. “By launching our newly revamped diocesan website, we seek to make our own contribution to the new evangelization by heeding this call of the Church to further our mission of knowing Christ better and making him better known.”

The original website, created in 1998, was to be a simple informational resource to parishes and the diocese at large, explained Andrew Utiger, director of Information Technology for the diocese. It could be easily managed by a small number of people and serve as a tool for many departments that did not have web skills or resources.

But when a department wanted to use more advanced web features, they would often build their own sites, Utiger said, resulting in the old site consisting of many connected but stylistically diverse sites.

The new site will reestablish a unified look and feel to the site and should reduce costs through a single platform, he said.

The Church was already aware of the fast developments in social communication at the time of the Second Vatican Council, Bishop Cordileone said. It “urged us to utilize the latest technology to spread the Gospel of Christ to the world in its Decree on the Means of Social Communication, Inter mirifica (“Among the marvelous things”), issued on Dec. 4, 1963.

“Pope Benedict XVI, too, has urged us recently to do the same with regard to the Internet in his Message for the 45th World Day of Social Communications,” Bishop Cordileone said. He quoted Pope Benedict: “The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness. In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God.”

Mike Brown, diocesan director of communications, said internal consultations on the new site began in 2009, with a vendor, OIS, selected in 2010 and site building started in December.

Web design and technology had progressed rapidly, Brown said, and left the old site behind.

The benefits of the new site will include a very robust content management system, well-trained internal users, a complete re-write of all content, the addition of much new program content, slideshows and user-friendly video, audio and podcast capabilities, Brown said.

Some content on the site will be translated into Spanish, Brown said, and the new site currently cannot accept comments from the public.

The bulk of the funding came from the diocese, and a $15,000 grant from The Koch Foundation in Florida.

Training and focusing on a complete review of old content and a re-thinking of the new content for the site were among the biggest challenges, Brown said.

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