Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Meet the Vatican's Webmistress

As an institution better known for moving in centuries has made fits and starts at embracing a medium that moves at the speed of light, the church's presence in new technology has become a key element of interest both within and outside its walls.

You knew that, sure, but did you know one of the sea change's vanguard players is a Long Island-born nun?

At a technology-in-society conference held last week in Geneva, one of the most buzzed-about speakers was Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Judith Zoebelein, the editorial director of the Holy See's webpage,, which gets somewhere around 15 million hits a day.

She may have over twenty years in Rome under her belt, but Zoebelein still bleeds Yankee blue from her desk in the Internet Office, part of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, where she leads a staff of 17. (For the record, the cyber-world is the only medium that lacks an independent organism of the Roman Curia to call its own.)

The subject of a 2006 profile in BusinessWeek, Sr Judith -- who presented in Geneva on the importance of building community on the internet -- sat for an extended interview with a blog. In keeping with the times, the fascinating 25-minute chat has gone viral. In it, Zoebelein balances insights on technology, ecclesiology, and being short-staffed, revealing in the process that the Internet Office has just undergone a conversion experience. To Mac, that is.

Deo gratias e ben fatto!