Ministries and Friars Use Web to Discuss Lent

Rebecca Doel In the Headlines

Holy Name Province friars and ministries are taking to the Internet during the season of Lent, which began last week.

A visit by newly elevated Cardinal Timothy Dolan to St. Francis Breadline on West 31st Street in New York City as the first stop on a busy Ash Wednesday made headlines across the World Wide Web. This was the New York archbishop’s second visit to the more than 80-year-old ministry.

A crowd of representatives from assorted media outlets — newspapers, radio and television — was outside St. Francis of Assisi Church before 7 a.m. on Feb. 22, ready to greet Cardinal Dolan who had returned from Rome the day before. Michael Carnevale, OFM, director of the breadline, was quoted in the New York Post saying the cardinal’s participation “was a great honor for the diocese and us.”

According to the OSV Daily Take, Cardinal Dolan said: “This means a lot more to me than the red cassock because it’s for love and charity.” He donned a white apron before passing out breakfast. “What better place to be on Ash Wednesday than with the poor. This is what it’s all about, love of God and love of neighbor.”

A photo of the cardinal with Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, Timothy Shreenan, OFM, and Felix McGrath, OFM, garnered numerous positive reactions on the Province’s Facebook page.

Utilizing New Media
A number of other HNP ministries are also using Facebook to talk about the season.

“This modern means of evangelizing reaches many people quickly and in a way that allows them to share both information and their thoughts about the information,” said Jocelyn Thomas, the Province’s director of communications.

St. Anthony of Padua Church and School in Camden, N.J., St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, and St. Anthony of Padua School in Greenville, S.C., posted photos of Ash Wednesday services on the social network. The Facebook page of St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md., posted a “well done, practical Lenten reflection on how to live it well and allow it to change your life” from St. Anthony’s Guild executive director David Convertino, OFM.

The Franciscan Volunteer Ministry has been providing followers of its Facebook page with Lenten resources — first, from American Catholic and also from the Jesuits of Ireland.

Sharing Reflections Through Blogs
The Franciscan Mission Service took second place in Busted Halo’s “Show Us Your Ash” contest. The group photo includes FMS director of development Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, and a painting of St. Francis of Assisi — all with ashes on their foreheads. The FMS has also been posting frequent reflections about the season on its blog.

Friars John Anglin, OFM, and Daniel Horan, OFM, are also blogging about Lent. On his blog, The Wandering Friar, John shared “Ash Wednesday — A Franciscan Perspective.” Dan noted the beginning of the season with a post about Thomas Merton and Ash Wednesday on his Dating God blog.

A Lent reflection by vocation director Brian Smail, OFM, appears on the blog of the Franciscan Vocation Ministry. This is the first in a series of posts for men discerning a vocation and the 600-some followers of the Be A Franciscan Facebook page who are on a Lenten journey of “self-reflection and discovery.”

From Western New York, the Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat posted an audio reflection from Daniel Riley, OFM.  Pax Christi posted a photo of Joseph Nangle, OFM, distributing ashes on its Facebook page several days after Lent began.

As the season continues, friars and ministries are sure to continue the trend of providing meaningful thoughts on Lenten themes through digital communications.

— Rebecca Doel is HNP communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.