WASHINGTON (June 20, 2000) -- The Web site www.Masstimes.org and the toll-free number 1-800-Mass Times have drawn increased use over the past two years, according to statistics on usage release in mid-June.
The site and number are a joint effort of the U.S. Bishops' Catholic Communication Campaign and 1-800 Mass Times Trust. The CCC joined with the Trust last year to provide promotional services for the media aids designed to assist travelers seeking a place for Mass when away from home. The toll-free number was launched in 1994.
In 1998 there were 66,000 toll-free telephone inquiries. In 1999, after CCC promotion through Catholic News Service and diocesan directors of communications, there were more than 100,000 telephone calls and another 120,000 Internet hits, resulting in more than 220,000 efforts to find a Mass or other Catholic religious service. Inquiries in this year continue well ahead of 1999.
Recently 1-800 Mass Times Trust introduced a much expanded, more user-friendly Internet version of its Web site (www.Masstimes.org). The new format permits easy access to information about Mass times by city, in languages other than English, for various religious devotions and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and for those needing wheelchair access. A feature of special interest is one for tourist Mass locations, which highlights religious services available in or near such sites as campgrounds, national and state parks, retreat houses, and terminals for air, bus, or train travel.
Also new since last fall is a live operator option, 305-382-5758, for those who have difficulty with touch-tone telephone operations or are unfamiliar with the Internet. Those who use the number are connected with a bilingual operator who can assist them in either the English or Spanish language.
Almost 22, 500 U.S. parishes, missions, and other Mass sites are included in the Mass Times database. The number with weekend Masses on the Mass Times database has increased from 80 to 99 percent over the past year. Contributing to the added precision are new data gathering techniques that ensure that listed information is updated or verified with the parish at least semiannually.
"Our whole objective is helping people get to Mass," says Mass Times founder Robert Hummel of Key Largo, Florida. "Naturally we're delighted with the greater use and the system upgrades in the past year." Hummel began the ministry in 1994 as a result on his difficulties in finding Masses during frequent business travel.
Bishop Robert N. Lynch, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Communications, noted the importance of the toll-free number and Web site.
"In a society as mobile as ours, media tools that help Catholics find a place to worship when away from home are vital," said Bishop Lynch. "The Communications Committee is delighted with the success of the partnership between the CCC and the 1-800 Mass Times Trust."
Mass Times also is supported by Pauline Books and Media, and its legal ownership rests with the Archdiocese of Miami, under whose listing it appears in The Official Catholic Directory.