When Dale and Susan Recinella wanted to set up a Web page for their ministry to death row inmates, they turned to a Poor Clare nun for assistance.
Dale Recinella is the Catholic lay chaplain to Florida’s Death Row, and his wife Susan is clinical psychologist and Catholic lay minister to families of the executed.
They wanted to set up a Web page to share their experiences and to network with those working against the death penalty. The problem, Dale said, is that “my wife and I are barely computer literate.”
In September of 2005, the Poor Clares in Spokane, Wash., took on the management of a full-time radio station from the fourth floor of their convent. It is a 5,000-watt station that reaches most of the Spokane diocese.
One of the nuns, Sister Patricia Proctor, produces a radio program called, “The Power of Prayer.” A friend of hers recommended Dale Recinella as a possible guest. According to Sister Patricia, he turned out to be a wonderful guest.
Sister Patricia said, “After the interview, we got to talking, and I couldn’t believe his ministry was not online as it’s so powerful and such a gift for the Church. I offered to do a simple Web page for him, since he had nothing. My favorite motto is, ‘If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly’ and so I figured any Web site that would show off the powerful content of Dale’s writing and work would more than offset any lack of bells and whistles that more professional designers might do.”
Sister Patricia went on to say, “One reason why our community felt so called to doing this for Dale and Susan was that, as cloistered religious, this gave us the unique opportunity to follow the Lord’s command of ‘I was in prison and you visited me’ without going outside the cloister! I thought it was pretty neat for the Lord to give us this opportunity.”
Sister Patricia started working with the Web in 1997, when she started the www.poorclare.org site. She said, “In looking for ways to promote the site, I visited the provincial Web site of the St. Barbara Province and was intrigued by their offering of free e-cards. Naturally, as with Saint Clare, anything the brothers were doing, the sisters want to do as well. So, I started researching how I could get e-cards on our site.”
“I experimented with several different programs and finally found one that was easy to use and free! I started with four cards, simple pictures that I drew myself. After that, I just kept adding more and more, making the cards from photos, clip-art and anything else that caught my attention. In 1998, I bought a professional version of the card program and a special domain just for the e-cards. Franciscan E-cards (franciscancards.com) is now the largest Catholic e-card site on the Internet, with approximately 500,000 e-cards sent each year,” she said.
The prison ministry site is not the only one that Sister Patricia has designed. “I have built a number of sites for others, but only as a free will offering for ministries our community wanted to help with,” she said. “The Poor Clare site, which started as our own site, has now been changed to a site promoting all 16 observances of Poor Clare life.”
“I’m still just overwhelmed at the gift of this service,” Dale said. “God is being quite gracious with us through these dear sisters!”