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Daily Prayers Go Digital

NEW YORK — For the new year, the HNP Development Office has launched a new prayer initiative from a new social networking platform — Instagram, a photo- and video-sharing service. Called “90 Prayers for 90 Days,” this digital “insta-inspiration” is succeeding in both delivering spiritual messages to the faithful and allowing more people to get to know the Franciscans. Like many religious communities around the world, the friars have embraced modern media.

Starting New Year’s Eve, the Franciscans’ Brother Finias, a friar cartoon character, began leading followers through “90 Prayers for 90 Days,” a daily prayer intention posted on the friars’ Instagram account, thefranciscans.

“This time of prayer has been developed for two audiences, one for the Development Office’s online presence and the other for St. Anthony’s Guild’s 90th anniversary,” said David Convertino, OFM, executive director of the HNP Development Office. “Some of the prayers have been modified to better reflect the particular spirituality of the targeted audience.”

Each morning, users log on and view an “insta-prayer,” or daily intention, led by Brother Finias. “Users are also able to catch the prayers via other social networks, like Facebook and Twitter,” said David, who has led the Development Office and St. Anthony’s Guild since 2011.“Inspired by Pope Francis and his social media efforts, we are excited to expand our digital presence to offer a new way for people to receive daily prayers from the Franciscans. ‘90 Prayers for 90 Days’ will reach new and old followers alike, and we are excited to provide people with a daily intention to lead them into the new year.”

The initiative asks followers to pray each day: “All-powerful, all loving, most high God, I give thanks for your blessings in my life and in the lives of those I love. May my prayers each day bring me closer to you and to all those for whom I pray.”

As of earlier this week, the Development Office’s Facebook following has reached 15,000 likes, with some 1,000 more being added each week. “This activity is also garnering us hundreds of new subscribers to our website,” said David.

David suggests that friars “encourage your ministerial communities to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and on our blog.”

Last year at this time, the HNP Development Office launched a “text a prayer request” initiative through which participants were given the ability to contact the friars of Holy Name Province by texting the word “prayer” to 306-44. The Development Office staff compiled the requests and gave hard copies to several of the Province’s large friaries, where the resident friars prayed for the intentions.

Since then, the development staff has been busy with other initiatives including Franciscan Challenge fundraisers, the launch of the office’s Facebook account in the fall, and the distribution by email of a series of reflections by David. The staff is now planning Masses to commemorate the anniversary of St. Anthony’s Guild.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.