01: Many monasteries and convents today have a website and engage in marketing for new recruits.
But not many are attempting to recruit new members over the Internet. The Adrian (Michigan) Dominican Sisters have made the Web a key component of a marketing campaign now in its third year, which also includes TV ads and billboards along highways in the area, with messages such as “Life’s short. Eternity isn’t.”
It seems to be working, since the Sisters have received thousands of phone calls and have seen a surge in attendance at religious retreats. The Adrian Dominican Sisters are a modern community, with members living in apartments and holding secular jobs beside their religious commitment.
The Sisters may reflect a more general trend. According to Sister Angela Ann Zukowski (professor at the University of Dayton), the Internet will become increasingly important for religious orders: she says that students interested in religious life are now looking at the websites of different orders in order to determine which might be attractive to them; this means that the way an order manages to present itself in cyberspace might become a very significant issue for its future.
Sister Zukowski thinks that marketing rules should apply to such websites as well, such as being user friendly, and having positive, interactive content.
(Source: Detroit News, April 17; The site’s address is:http://www.adriansisters.org)
— By Jean-Francois Mayer.
02: The electronic revolution does not only have an impact on Christian churches, but on other religions as well, such as Islam.
The Qatar government has launched a website for the payment of zakat, i.e. the mandatory donation for the poor which is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. The new website is intended for Muslims in Qatar as well as abroad, so that they can pay zakat without leaving their homes to visit the Zakat Fund offices or service points.
Any owner of a credit card can use the new service, available in Arabic and English. Secrecy will be respected, and the money distributed among those in need. Other donations can also be made through the same channel. This zakat payment system is part of an ambitious e-government project launched in Qatar.
(Source: Qatari e-Government portal: http://www.e.gov.qa; International Islamic News Agency, April 25, Midde East North Africa Financial Network)
— By Jean-Francois Mayer