By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
The Archdiocese of Louisville has created a new website — CatholicSeekers.org — for people interested in the Catholic faith. It’s designed for those who have stepped away from the church and those new to the faith.
The site features five local Catholics who describe their experiences with the church. The welcome screen explains their purpose: “By sharing the personal experiences of real people, we hope you will find guidance in overcoming obstacles and strengthen your relationship with God.”
“There’s five actual stories being told by people who have experienced what we hope people visiting the site might have experienced,” said Sal Della Bella, director of evangelization for the archdiocese. “These are real local people, not actors.”
Della Bella said it was important to the archdiocese that the site feature local people and local information.
“A lot of information about the Catholic Church can be Googled, but this site offers a personal connection and a personal response if they need one,” he said. “And the hope is to help people see the benefit of joining a local faith community.”
To that end, the archdiocese has also asked parishes to include a link to CatholicSeekers.org on their websites. So far,
26 parishes have provided links to the new site, which was
launched Oct. 29. So far the new site has drawn about 1,800 page views.
The five featured people have varied experiences, but each circumstance is fairly common in this area, Della Bella said. Their stories are relayed in a series of slides that include photos and text.
Steve, a middle aged man who is divorced and remarried, explains the challenges posed by the annulment process and the notion of sacramental marriage.
“I was at odds with something I deemed archaic, intrusive, and totally unnecessary to my faith in God and the church,” he writes on the site. “Although there are still some things about the annulment process I think could be modernized, I now understand its true purpose and its place in our faith.”
A list of links follow his story, including a link to the archdiocese’s “top 10 list” of myths about annulments.
Also featured are Bobby and Jacqueline, a married couple who explain how being busy with day-to-day life kept them away from church. They describe a mysterious moment that left them feeling compelled to attend the Catholic Church.
In addition, Ana, a woman from Mexico with an Anglo-American husband, describes the cultural challenges she faced in joining a parish.
Alex, a young adult man, describes himself — prior to joining a parish — as spiritual but not religious. He explains on the website, that he lost touch with church after his parents divorced and he left home for college.
“I was not having a crisis of faith; I knew God was there,” he notes. “I just didn’t understand the value of attending church.”
After attending Mass with a Catholic friend, he writes, “For the first time in years, I experienced spiritual growth within a church community and grew beyond the self-centered spiritual box I had put myself in.”
The final story, told by a widow named Carridder, describes the role her then-new parish played in her life when her husband died.
Following each story, an archdiocesan employee appears on a video to welcome the “seeker” to click on the links provided and encourages viewers to contact them.
The site also features a “prayer request button” where people can submit a special intention. Prayers for these intentions will be offered during a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz each Friday at the chancery.
“We hope it’s interactive — that they can connect with a local person,” Della Bella said. “For some folks, that’s a difficult transition. They’re looking for a parish where they can feel welcomed, a person or two to talk to.”