Mt. Irenaeus, or “The Mountain” as it is known to those who live and visit there, is a Catholic contemplative community of Franciscan friars and an extended community of collaborators and friends located in the secluded foothills of southwestern New York State, not far from Franciscan-based St. Bonaventure University. Beginning as an outgrowth of campus ministry at the St. Bonaventure campus in the 1970s, the Mountain, now a collaborating but independent entity from the University serves as a place of retreat and spiritual refreshment and an oasis of peace in a natural setting which invites college students from near and far, local Catholics, Christians, and those of different faiths – or none – and those from around the world to visit and experience the rejuvenation that comes from reconnecting with the spiritual side of life.
This vibrant ministry sought out the services of Perisphere in 2017 to consider a new approach to their website. While their previous website was highly focused on information, there was a desire to embark on a new and visually appealing approach so that the experience of the Mountain might reach others through the website and thereby provide a path by which old friends and new would come to this place of peaceful contemplation and care. Two members of the Perisphere team – Matt Smith and Marc DelMonico – graduates of Saint Bonaventure University (1999 and 1997, respectively) who were also involved in the Mt. Irenaeus peer ministry group during their years as students – were additionally excited by the prospect of providing a strategic approach to refresh the website of the Mountain.
Perisphere worked with representatives from the Mountain community and volunteers engaged in their communications outreach to strategize a new website built around their existing logo, brand marks and colors, while extending their color palette to encompass other colors of nature to add texture to the site. We worked to develop an information architecture built around showcasing the beautiful images of life at the Mountain – both among those who live and visit there, as well as the many natural vistas that are part of the Mountain experience. We worked closely with the Mountain community representatives, ensuring that the site reflected a good organization of content while also providing guidance about specific aspects of content, training on the WordPress-based platform on which the site was built, implementing plugins to enable better communication between potential and return visitors and the Mountain community, a form for both submitting prayer requests and praying for those already listed, and integration of third-party donation forms. We also ensured that the Mountain’s daily and regular schedule of student and other events was readily accessible to all, along with regular podcasts and Instagram posts from members of the community. A comprehensive social stream integration enables visitors to enter into the spiritual reflection that is the hallmark of the Mountain experience anywhere they happen to be. The site was launched on a URL more consistent with their desire for this new portal: mountainonline.org
We have established an ongoing digital outreach engagement with Mt. Irenaeus which will allow us to continue to assist them in strategy around content additions and online communications needs, including staff and volunteer training in the use of the new website, evaluation and implementation of additional and new third-party member services, and general strategy related to social media.