Currently serving the needs of 1.8 million Catholics, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB) is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community that consists of 288 parishes forming 157 parish-collaboratives across 144 communities. Educating 38,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, the Archdiocese also ministers to the needs of 200,000 individuals annually through its pastoral and social service outreach. As one of four Catholic dioceses in Massachusetts, RCAB covers the greater Boston and eastern communities, serving people of faith, Catholics and non-Catholics.
The Church is a beacon of hope for people of faith and all in need. However, as the demand has grown for access to the unique pastoral care it provides, the number of priests and resources has declined, and mass attendance has decreased significantly over the past four decades. Wanting to align the Archdiocese’s functions with evangelization efforts, RCAB realized that its many offices and churches — which had historically taken a highly independent approach to their websites — would benefit from a consolidated digital strategy and infrastructure.
While the Archdiocese was using Ektron CMS for its corporate website, its parishes, schools, Central Ministries and related entities were employing a plethora of independent CMS platforms. The disjointed approach meant that everything from site updates to platform upgrades was costly and more time-consuming than necessary — and brand consistency was an issue. Needing easy-to-maintain websites for its 288 parishes and 116 schools in addition to its Central Ministries, RCAB required a flexible yet customizable solution.
RCAB considered a variety of CMS and hosting options, ultimately selecting Drupal and Acquia based on several vendor recommendations during the RFI process as well as the strength of the Drupal community. And while RCAB didn’t initially know that they needed a multisite platform to accomplish their goals, after learning about the functionality provided by Acquia Site Factory, they were convinced — and ready to revolutionize their organization, touting Site Factory’s cost- and time-savings to help achieve buy-in from RCAB’s many stakeholders.
By bringing many websites under a consolidated digital infrastructure, RCAB will be able to communicate accurate information from authoritative subject matter experts seamlessly, thereby better serving those who are seeking information and services from the entire Roman Catholic Church throughout the Archdiocese of Boston.
Dubbed the “Digital Initiative,” RCAB counts internal business adoption of the platform and project as its greatest initial success. The initiative ultimately includes the migration of 288 parish websites into 157 parish-collaborative sites with a single template. This template has been adapted for the Central Ministries website, www.bostoncatholic.org, as well as the Catholic Schools Office website, www.csoboston.org. The schools template has been adapted for all 116 Catholic schools that wish to use it. Using Site Factory, RCAB has created its own digital experience platform (DXP), which integrates third-party services for e-commerce, bulk email and syndicated content that spans all websites. RCAB uses Acquia Personalization to aggregate visitor data to be able to personalize content to the right audiences and promote Catholic education and its 116 schools.
RCAB currently has 22 parish-collaborative websites live and 14 more in Site Factory, with all 157 sites expected to be live in the next two to four years — an impressive time frame given the intricacies of working with each parish. Additionally, RCAB has realized a cost savings across the organization, with the streamlined process reducing design/development, maintenance and hosting fees. In addition to the parish-collaborative websites, the Central Ministries website and Catholic School Office website are live with five individual Catholic school websites set to launch in Q1 2020.
RCAB plans to continue its digital infrastructure consolidation, leveraging Acquia’s knowledge and expertise to improve their user experience, as well as actively contributing to the Acquia community.