The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia are among many religious orders who are embracing technology as one way to share their story and attract new members. A search of YouTube reveals videos featuring the ministry of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, Sisters of Bon Secours and the Daughters of Charity, among others. The Sisters of St. Francis have set up their own channel on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/user/SrsofStFrancisPhila#p/a.
“We had our DVD, ‘Gospel Women Making a Difference,’ adjusted to meet YouTube’s size requirements and now have all four segments posted on the site,” said Florence Smith, director of communications for the congregation. “Because we’ve set up our own channel, we’re also able to link to other videos related to our corporate stands, our sponsored ministries, and other issues in which our sisters are involved in the ‘favorites’section.’”
The YouTube connection is not the congregation’s only venture into the world of cyberspace. They have had a Web site, www.osfphila.org, for many years and, for the past two years, have had a blog, www.franciscanlife.blogspot.com. Several sisters are also sharing their congregation’s message via facebook. Videoconferencing is often used as an alternative to long distance travel for meetings. Internally, the sisters use an intranet system to relay announcements and as a means of accessing publications.
Sister Patricia Dowling, vocation director for the Sisters of Bon Secours, who have also explored Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, among other options, has told The Catholic Review that taking advantage of technology is good “because we’re trying to increase the visibility of religious and priests.”
“We’re planting seeds and getting the word out that the religious life and the priesthood is alive and well,” she said.
Smith said the Sisters of St. Francis are excited about the new way of spreading the word about the congregation.
“We invite everyone to take a look for themselves,” she said. “This is a work in progress, so check back regularly for updates.”