ESC Communicators Gather in California

HNP Communications Features

MALIBU, Calif. — Representatives of six provinces of the OFM English-speaking Conference gathered last month at the Serra Retreat Center here to discuss their communication programs and share ideas. Jocelyn Thomas, communications director, represented Holy Name Province.

Participants gathered Aug. 17 to 19 for meals, presentations and discussions. For the second year in a row, the ESC communicators reported on activities and accomplishments, and shared suggestions for solving challenges. The event was organized by Alexis Packard of St. Barbara Province, which operates the Serra Retreat. Other provinces participating were Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. John the Baptist, and Sacred Heart.

Valuable Collaboration
The topics discussed included:
• Approaches to internal and external communications, specifically on the varied approaches of the ESC provinces to newsletters, advertisements, public relations, special events and Web site maintenance and usage
• Social networking sites and the need for usage guidelines
• The walk to Washington by six friars of St. John the Baptist Province, which drew media attention from The Washington Post, CathNews USA and others
• Publicity garnered by Holy Name Province for its innovative “Life Shift” recruitment advertisement
• Informational videos produced by several provinces
• Possibility of developing, as a group, reports on interprovincial events
• Communication about the Order’s General Chapter by Fr. Thomas Washburn, OFM, executive secretary of the English-speaking Conference

During the meeting, attendees visited the St. Barbara Mission, one of 21 religious outposts established by Spanish Franciscans between 1769 and 1823. A member of St. Barbara Province who lives at the mission provided a tour.

esccomm-bFuture Plans
Next year’s meeting will be held in Toronto, Canada, at a venue affiliated with Immaculate Conception Province.

“The group hopes that with a location farther East, members of other provinces of the ESC will attend,” said Thomas, referring to those in Great Britain, Ireland, Malta and Lithuania. The ESC consists of 15 provinces.

“These meetings provide a wonderful opportunity to talk with others whose jobs it is to spread the Franciscan message. I find them very valuable.”

The meeting ended with a discussion about the status of the ESC communicators group. It was decided through a vote that Fr. Tom will petition the ESC at its fall meeting for the group to become an official committee of experts of the English-speaking Conference.

Shown in the photo above, taken on the grounds of the Serra Retreat, are, seated from left, Jocelyn Thomas (HNP), Toni Cashnelli (of St. John the Baptist Province), Alexis Packard (St. Barbara), and standing, Br. Andrew Gallegos, OFM, (Our Lady of Guadalupe), John Summers, OFM (St. Barbara), Fr. Thomas Washburn, OFM (Immaculate Conception) and  Fr. Benet Fonck, OFM (Sacred Heart)

Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, contributes frequently to HNP Today.