St. Barbara Province Launches New Website, Announces Events

Jocelyn Thomas Franciscan World

OAKLAND, Calif. — A website with more text and visuals, along with simpler methods for adding information, has been launched by the Franciscans of St. Barbara Province.

As of last month, the West Coast province is offering a website that focuses on two main audiences — potential vocation candidates and donors to the province — and also provides more details about retreats ministries and the Franciscan charism.

The Jan. 11 e-newsletter from the province announced “the new and improved” website: “We look forward to continuing to grow and evolve our understanding of today’s communication tools to share our charism and unique outlook on the faith and our world. According to Pacific Currents, “Be sure to check out event calendar, it includes all of the retreats being offered at all six of our retreat centers.”

The creators of the site aimed for it to be a resource for people seeking to learn more about the Franciscan charism and West Coast ministries and retreats, said Alexis Packard, St. Barbara Province’s development associate. Packard works with Br. Jeff Shackleton, OFM, who edits The Way of St. Francis, and also works on the website.

A Team Effort
The website was developed by a team, said Packard, a 14-year employee of St. Barbara Province. “It was a collective desire by not only the administration but the majority of the brothers. Living on the West Coast, particularly so close to the tech capital of the world, I think we all realized the need to effectively communicate electronically with the greater public. In many ways, a number of the province’s parishes and retreat centers have served as good examples to us in the use of a website to further the work of a ministry.”

The reaction from the friars, the laity, and others who work for the ministries of the province has been “quite good,” said Packard. “Many have commented that it is easy to navigate and that it is a very clean design.”

Packard said that the new site includes an enhanced Friars Only section and will soon offer a blog with contributions on a variety of topics from many friars.

The website team is working to add some additional features within the next month.

A Mission Statement
“Our province has been working for the last year on a mission statement, values, and vision statement to help direct the planning for the future,” said Packard. “The mission statement and values have been identified, we will be incorporating these into the overall design of each page in the coming month.

“Our long-term goals are to continue to find ways to create interaction with the public on the website, expand and enliven our vocations section, and add some new ways to support the province under the support section. In December 2014, when we begin celebrating our 100-year anniversary as a province, we plan to add a significant number of pages to the site dedicated to celebrating this milestone.”

The current St. Barbara e-newsletter, edited by Packard, offers information about two events and an assortment of retreats.

In February, the following programs are being offered:
 Survival Schools: Essential Skills for Non-profit Management: Feb. 4 to 8 at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Az. 
 Franciscan Vision Series, a three-part program: Feb. 21, March 14 and April 18 at the Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley, Calif.

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