By Gordon Nary
Gordon: You became the Communications Director for Friar Servants of Mary-USA Province in 2000. What are your principal responsibilities as Communications Director?
Jim: My job is to promote and support the USA Province by communicating the Servite mission to internal and external audiences. This is done through various media channels: internet, email, print materials, etc. Presently, I am responsible for the production and distribution of five different newsletters and all website and social media communication. I also work with the Development Director on the creation of various promotional materials as well as serve as the Secretary for the Provincial Council (this would be the equivalent to the Board of Directors in a secular setting).
Gordon: What do you enjoy most about your responsibilities?
Jim: I would say that enjoy the creative aspects of the job the most. I have a degree in Art History as well as Communications. So while I do enjoy the crafting of messages for particular audiences, it is the aesthetic and graphic design elements that I am most comfortable with. You can have a fantastic message, but if it isn’t presented well, no one will bother reading it much less take it heart and mind. Also, knowing that you’ve produced something that has touched someone in some way is another satisfying aspect of this position.
Gordon: How have the challenges of communications changed since 2000?
Jim: When I began the job in 2000, I started with two printed newsletters. The original website soon followed. Back then we did our own scripting before we moved to programs like GoLive and Dreamweaver. Things have gotten far more challenging with the explosion of new media and all the different social platforms. Thankfully we don’t need to know scripts and coding anymore, but the world of social media is constantly in flux and what is hot one day is cold the next. The challenge is knowing who your different stakeholders are, what platforms they’re found on, and then delivering them the best possible content they can use. Another challenge is ensuring that your communication is not just one-way, but bringing people into dialog and relationship. This is what Jesus and the early Church did. We practice our faith by sharing our stories and entering into relationships and our communications should reflect that. Our National Shrine of St. Peregrine Facebook page is ideally suited for such a purpose.
Jim: Thanks. Fr. Doyle was great in taking the initiative and learning the ropes. We hope to add more contributors in the future.
Gordon: The Servite Order has a long history of service in Africa and we often see announcements of new OSM priests ordained, Could you provide our readers with an overview of the Servite mission in Africa?
Jim: We have had a couple of professions and ordinations in the past few years and a few more on the horizon, but we would like to have a lot more! The Servites have been involved in the KwaZulu-Natal area of South Africa since the late 1940s. Their main mission, then and now, has been to establish a viable Catholic Christian community. Besides meeting the sacramental needs of a number of parishes, each with numerous outstations, the friars are involved in education, caring for the sick, ministering to the orphans of the AIDS epidemic as well as the building of adequate housing.
Gordon: Who created the art for your image that we used in this interview?
Jim: I did. I am one of those people who duck for cover when a camera is produced. I originally created the image in Adobe Illustrator for my Facebook profile. But thanks for reminding me that I need to replace it with an actual photo.
Gordon: I appreciate you taking time from your exceptionally busy schedule for this interview. I hope that many of our readers will subscribe to your great newsletter .