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Ministries Enhance Digital Presence

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Holy Name Province parishes and offices are updating their online presence to amplify their messages. Friars and their partner-in-ministry have been utilizing electronic media of all kinds to strengthen their voices.

Just this month, to assist ministries in communicating justice and peace topics — both events and information about broad themes — the HNP Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office created a Facebook group. Its goal is to serve as a resource for friars and laypeople throughout the Province who are working on varied aspects of social justice.

“It will be a platform for those involved with justice and peace efforts to view JPIC-related content, create and share resources for presentations and workshops, and disseminate information that may be helpful and relevant to other ministry sites,” according to a note distributed recently by Christian Seno, OFM, a student friar interning in the JPIC Office. He encourages local contacts to post news about activities and initiatives, “especially events responding to ‘Laudato Si’.’”

In his email, Christian reminded people of the 2014 Provincial Chapter mandate that “called for the Province to deepen its commitment to JPIC as an integral part of its life and mission… and to increase its focus on advocacy and public media outreach.”

Since the group was created, information has been posted about a variety of events, several focused on the environment. They range from a presentation in New Jersey about Pope Francis’s encyclical, to an event in Boston by representatives of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, as well as a video featuring Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, and other faith leaders calling for the abandonment of fossil fuels. Other social justice themes are included, too, such as publicity about a recent New York City conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Delano Strike and celebrating the triumph of migrant workers’ solidarity, and a link to a newspaper story about St. Francis Inn’s soup kitchen.

Information about the Province’s JPIC initiatives can be obtained through Russ Testa, director of the HNP Office for Justice, Peace and integrity of Creation, at jpic@hnp.org, and through the Justice and Peace section of HNP.org.

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Franciscan Ministries of Buffalo
In Western New York, the friars’ work is being shared through a new website called Franciscan Ministries of Buffalo. It was announced in September on the Facebook page of the same name.

The site, which offers visitors the option to sign up to receive information, is divided into five pages: Ministry to the Poor, St. Francis Thrift Store, St. Patrick Food Pantry, Prison Ministry, and Summer Fun. It also provides lists of the board members, including Jud Weiksnar, OFM, guardian of St. Patrick Friary, and the staff, which includes Vianney Justin, OFM.

The home page greets visitors with photos and a welcome: “Franciscan Ministries of Buffalo, inspired by the spirit of St. Francis, serves Buffalo’s poor, marginalized and vulnerable through works of charity and service. The Franciscans have served Buffalo’s Larkinville community since 1858.”

Jud, guardian of Buffalo’s St. Patrick Friary, said the site was created to “collect information about the valuable work that friars and laypeople have been doing to help so many communities of people for many years.” Information about the services — for both people in need and for those who want to help — can now be found in one place.

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Virginia’s St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Farther south, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va., updated its website to include a modernized look and a new parish logo. www.stfrncis.org was launched the weekend of Oct. 24, and announced in the parish bulletin and on Facebook.

“We wanted a contemporary website that would be simple to use and yet sophisticated enough to do all that we needed it to do,” said Kevin Downey, OFM, pastor. “We also wanted a website that conveyed who we are as a parish. Not only would it provide the necessary information people would be looking for, but it would also provide them with a sense of our vitality, warmth, inclusiveness, diversity, and Franciscan spirit.”

The site offers an improved platform for videos, pictures, blogs and social media. A welcome video, featuring Kevin and created by student friar Casey Cole, OFM, greets visitors to the site.

The logo’s design “incorporates our unique Franciscan spirit into a clean, modern image,” added Kevin. “It is a visual representation of our identity as the relevant, welcoming parish that we strive to be.”

The new site’s development was a team effort, utilizing the time and talent of five staff members and a vendor. The team comprised Rob Goraieb, Brandon Jubar, John Lilly, Lisa Ostendorf, and Colleen Wells. “We hired the professional services of an independent contractor to design and build a new WordPress website with multiple dynamic plugins,” said Kevin.

The need for the updating of the site was determined earlier this year.

“In February, we did a parish-wide survey as part of our Now What? Campaign to determine how we could better serve our parishioners. The response overwhelmingly expressed a need for greater online communication,” said Kevin. “In a parish like ours that is active and whose parishioners come from far and wide, communication is absolutely critical, as it is in any good relationship. We also felt that a modernized website could help us to better evangelize. We live in an area that is experiencing tremendous growth. Our hope is that this new website will help us to better reach those who will be moving into our community.”

To encourage use of the website, the staff is giving away magnets and gift cards for those who sign up for newsletters, said Lilly, parish manager of communications and young adult ministry.

Other HNP ministries are making sure their message is communicated in effective ways. Last month, just after the pope’s visit, a parish in northern New Jersey — St. Mary’s in Pompton Lakes — launched a website about the environment called EarthActions.org. Links to the websites of the Province’s parishes can be found on the Our Work page of HNP.org.

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

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