ESC Communicators Focus on Sharing Franciscan Message

Maria Hayes Franciscan World

The ESC communicators at Holy Name Province's Provincial Office.

The English-speaking communicators at Holy Name’s Provincial Office. (Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Thomas)

NEW YORK — Holy Name Province played host to representatives from 10 English-speaking provinces and entities last month during the annual English-speaking Communicators Committee meeting. From July 12 to 16, the communicators discussed modern techniques and upcoming opportunities to share the Franciscan message.

Gathered for the meeting were representatives from the provinces of Holy Name, Immaculate Conception, Ireland, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart, St. Casimir (in Lithuania), St. John the Baptist, and St. Paul (Malta), as well as a representative from the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C., and the newly-hired digital media director for the U.S. Franciscans, Jim McIntosh, OFM.

“Great hospitality, a well-planned meeting, and a diverse group of participants from various nations and provinces with people who place their professional expertise as journalists and I.T. experts at the service of the Order’s communication efforts made the ESC Communicators meeting at Holy Name Province’s curia wonderful,” said Fr. William Spencer, OFM, who serves as the conference’s liaison to the committee.

The meeting began with a review of the excellent coverage of the 2015 General Chapter provided to ESC members by Fathers Alvin Te, OFM, and Tom Washburn, OFM, of Immaculate Conception Province. The communicators thanked Fr. Tom, executive secretary of the English-speaking Conference, who was present, and extended their appreciation to both friars for their reporting of the Order’s month-long gathering.

On July 14, the group visited Fr. James Martin, S.J., at America Media office, where the writer spoke to them about a number of topics, including the magazine’s plan for Pope Francis’s visit to the United States in September.

The communicators visit with Fr. James Martin, S.J., at the America Media office in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Fr. Tom Washburn)

The communicators visit with Fr. James Martin, S.J., at the America Media office in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Fr. Tom Washburn)

Communications director Toni Cashnelli reported on the meeting with Fr. James in St. John the Baptist Province’s News Notes.

“The IQ of Catholics is so different than it was years ago,” he told the group. “People don’t know the things that we think are pretty basic. We [at the magazine] were told years ago that things were too ‘churchy’ or obvious, that we aren’t the Catechism.”

But according to Fr. Jim, the vast wealth of information about Catholicism and religious orders is a “kind of buried treasure” to be shared through all forms of media.

“Seventy percent of our readers come to America through Facebook,” Jim said. “People are on YouTube. Jesus went to where the people are. If Jesus could talk about the birds of the air, then we can tweet. All the Beatitudes are under 140 characters,” he added.

The meeting with Fr. Jim stimulated the conversation the committee had the following day. Members shared communication strategies for Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to the United States, including how to best share the Franciscan message with the public. The group also discussed the development of a new U.S. Franciscan communications app.

Also during the meeting, the committee re-elected HNP’s Jocelyn Thomas for another three-year term as committee chair.

“It is always energizing to meet with the people who do communications for other provinces,” said Thomas, who with Fr. Tom launched the annual meetings in 2008. “We compare notes and realize that the ideas and opportunities for sharing the Franciscan story are endless. We discuss how we can most efficiently distribute information. As we do each year, we vowed to work more with each other since many of the topics we write about are of interest to more than one province.”

Throughout the week, committee members were treated to various sights and experiences in New York City. On Tuesday afternoon, FDNY chaplain Christopher Keenan, OFM, led the communicators on a tour of the New York City Fire Museum and National September 11 Memorial and Museum. During their stay in Manhattan, the communicators also saw a Broadway show.

The ESC Communicators meet annually at a location affiliated with one of the member provinces. The 2016 meeting is tentatively planned for Ireland.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

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