April 30, 2014 — The Society of Jesus, the largest order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, is launching an innovative, interactive new vocations website, www.jesuitvocations.org, in the United States. The site employs the technology platform created by the digital media company Interlude, whose channel-changing video designed to promote the Bob Dylan classic “Like a Rolling Stone” exploded last fall.
The website features a series of interactive video “chats” hosted by Jesuits, filmed and edited by Loyola Productions in their Los Angeles studios. The video’s cutting-edge technology allows users to “direct” the conversation by choosing questions on a broad range of topics – from training, ordination and vows to questions about Jesuit spirituality and commitment to social justice. The technology provides a near-immediate response time and seamless flow, which combine to make a rich, “lean-forward” user experience. Interlude quotes increased engagement rates as high as between 70 to 90 percent.
The first video chat in the series is hosted by Father Radmar Jao, S.J., an actor with movie and television credits before he became a Jesuit priest. Other hosts include Brother Ken Homan, S.J., and Father James Martin, S.J., the New York Times bestselling author and frequent “Colbert Report” guest.
The site walks users through every aspect of the vocation journey, from the first stirrings of interest in the Jesuit way of life to the actual process of applying to the order. The site employs high-impact graphics, professionally produced videos, FAQs and special features, including content specifically designed for friends and family of those considering a vocation to the Jesuits.
Last month, the Society of Jesus reported a surge in vocation inquiries since the election of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope. While the new website is not directly linked to the uptick in inquiries, Father Thomas H. Smolich, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference, said that responding to growing interest in the Society is a priority for the Jesuits. “In a world that’s increasingly engaged with technology, we need to be on the front lines, reaching out to young men who are interested in living creatively and generously in service to Christ.”
According to Father Smolich, the site is, more than anything else, an invitation. “The U.S. bishops have repeatedly called for religious orders to develop a ‘culture of invitation.’ This new vocations site is one of several efforts on our part to respond to that call. We welcome young men to share the challenges, joys, aspirations and deep communal spirituality that accompany a life devoted to service as a Jesuit.”
Is God calling you to join us? Visit jesuitvocations.org.