Even in an institution with 2,000 years of tradition, things can move pretty fast. To keep up with the frequent changes in parish staff or Mass times in the Diocese of Buffalo, the diocesan Office of Communications offers an online Directory of all things Catholic.
The idea to put the information, which came in the form of a physical book for over 60 years, online, came from a survey conducted by Gregg Prince, Directory team leader.
"The real motivation is, every year more people ask for a digital, searchable copy of this, and the easiest way to do that is to take the product that we already have and create a PDF of it," said Prince. "The vast majority of people said they would either print it or download it to their desktop or just use it online, or if they did print it, they would only print the sections they referred to most often," he said.
Unlike the book, which was printed once a year, the online version is updated every month. Users can print out pages that have changes, download the PDF so it is always available on their computer, or simply view online from any computer or mobile device.
Richard Suchan, executive director of the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, was one of those people wanting an online version of the Directory when he joined the diocese four years ago.
"When I came here it struck me how paper dependent the diocese was," he said. "My experience was that the Directory was used extensively, not only in this building, but throughout the diocese. The industry I came from, I was 30 years a banker before coming to the diocese, we had done away with paper directories probably 10 years before that."
In his role as fundraiser for the diocese, Suchan refers to the Directory four or five times a day to find the phone numbers and addresses of priests.
"I am constantly looking to track down a member of the clergy," he said. "That's one of the things I love about the online edition, the updates that come in monthly. With the old paper version I was always crossing things out. Father so and so is now here. It is much more useful for me."
The searchable PDF makes finding all references to a priest or parish a quick task.
"It definitely serves my purposes. It's my go-to for contact information for people," Suchan said.
Along with the parishes and clergy, the Directory lists all women and men religious serving in the Diocese of Buffalo, all Catholic organizations, social services, educational institutes, and hospitals and nursing homes. Common questions received in the Office of Communications come from people looking for baptismal records. If a parish has merged with another, it is listed on pages 61-67, along with where the records are kept and a phone number to call. The website also gives instructions on how to print the Directory for people who prefer a hard copy.
To view the Directory, click here.