The website offers information about Opus Dei, as well as news about the Catholic Church and the Pope. “This past April, when John Paul II died and Benedict XVI was elected, we had a record high for site visits,” said Peter Bancroft of the Opus Dei Communications Office in New York.
The new site has a clean, updated design and many new features. It will also be able to handle the increased traffic that www.opusdei.org has been receiving in recent years. “The Da Vinci Code has definitely increased the number of visitors to our website,” said Bancroft. “In 2005, we had 15 million page hits, from 3 million different visitors. Just on the U.S. version of the site, we have had a million visitors to our page about The Da Vinci Code.”
One of the most-improved sections of the website is the Press Room. Besides contact information for Opus Dei press offices around the world, this section will now offer backgrounders, press releases and audiovisual materials.
Another site feature expected to be popular is the new Message-of-the-day option, which lets subscribers get a daily e-mail with an excerpt from the writings of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei. The site already offers a newsletter, which has more than 40,000 subscribers.
“The new design is the fourth for www.opusdei.org,” said technical director José Benigno. “The website first went on-line in 1996 in four languages: English, French, Italian, and Spanish. It now appears in 22 languages. Some of the more recent additions include Russian, Chinese and Estonian, with Arabic and Hungarian coming soon.”
“We get thousands of email messages through the site,” said Juan Narbona, the international site coordinator in Rome. “A lot of people find practical ideas on the site about finding God in their work and daily activities.”
Opus Dei’s founder, Saint Josemaría Escrivá (1902-1975), was a firm believer in the importance of the media. “The marvelous message of Jesus Christ needs to be spread,” he said. “It must reach everywhere: the print press, film, radio, television and other media.” He did not live to see the Internet, but he would no doubt be pleased to see the possibilities it offers for Church communications.