Newton parish broadens its communication efforts

By Barb Arland-Fye

Father Bill Reynolds, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton, stands in the gathering area in front of a large-screen monitor that serves as an electronic version of the parish bulletin.

An electronic version of the parish bulletin – with more information, versatility and space – hangs high on a wall in the gathering space at Sacred Heart Church in Newton.

The 60-inch flat screen monitor displays text and photos about the parish on a weekly cycle. Viewers see Scripture readings and insights about them, saints’ feast days, celebrations of the sacraments and other parish activities, obituaries with photos of deceased parishioners, death anniversaries and other information.“One of the things I really like is being able to publish the death anniversaries of all the people who have been members of this parish. It’s a way to remember the communion of saints,” said Father Bill Reynolds, the pastor. “You can see the name of your loved one – a grandparent or another loved one who died any number of years ago and know that the person dear to you is still being remembered.”

Fr. Reynolds said he got the idea for this communication tool from the electronic information kiosks that have become a staple in hotel lobbies. Two parish staff members – Tammy Norcross, pastoral administrator and faith formation director, and Ann Ratliff, administrative assistant – suggested ways of enhancing Sacred Heart’s electronic bulletin board with photos and other graphic elements. They developed a continuously looping PowerPoint presentation updated on a weekly basis, Ratliff said. “We always have something to welcome newcomers and instructions about what they need to do,” she added.

Norcross hopes to incorporate the electronic billboard presentation into the parish website, shcnewton.com, and Facebook page. “I think we could get the message out even more.” After the National Catholic Youth Con­fer­ence, she posted pictures on the electronic bulletin board and directed viewers to the website to see more pictures. “We hope it leads people to the website as a source of information.”

Norcross noted that people typically don’t take out a pen to jot down something they’ve seen on the electronic bulletin board, but they will do so when they visit the website. “We realized the messages (on the electronic bulletin board) have to be short and eye-catching,” she said. “We need to point people to the Sunday bulletin and the website. They don’t replace one another, but keep encouraging the communication all the way around.”

Newton Knights fund creation of new missal covers

While preparing for implementation of the new Roman Missal, Sacred Heart Parish in Newton inventoried its missal book covers and discovered some were worn out.

Marty Stratton, chair of the pastoral council and liturgy commission, said the parish hadn’t budgeted for new book covers, so he approached the Msgr. T.J. McCann Council No. 2663 of the Knights of Columbus for help. He now serves the council as grand knight. The Knights were receptive and decided some of the proceeds from  a golf tournament they were organizing for the first time would go toward the book covers. The tournament’s success allowed the Knights to fund both the book cover project and a courthouse lighting project in Newton, Stratton said.

New, custom book covers for the missals at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton feature a photo of Sacred Heart Church on the front and the Risen Christ on the back.

Parishioner and fellow Knight John Lee, a professional photographer, shot photos for the cover. The church appears on the front and a statue of the Risen Christ that hangs in the sanctuary appears on the back. Another parishioner and fellow Knight, Dave McNeer, researched book cover production and found a company to produce the customized covers at a reasonable cost (approximately $1,800 for 400 book covers). “The good Lord was shining on us,” Stratton said. “Each step of the way was incredible and it was fun.” Working with the pastor, Father Bill Reynolds, also was a good experience. “He was very encouraging.”

Fr. Reynolds appreciated everyone’s effort in creating attractive, durable book covers that also serve as a memory jogger for the new exchange between people and priest at Mass . Both the priest’s verse “The Lord be with you”  and the congregation’s response, “And with your spirit” appear on the book cover.

Credit goes to all who contributed to the project, including KCs Bruce Hoffmeier and Ken Untrauer who were instrumental in the golf tournament’s success, Stratton added.

Other parishes interested in obtaining customized book covers can contact Dave McNeer of Maxim Advertising at (641) 792-0906 for more information.

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