June 5, 2003
Spreading the Good News
By Blessed Sacrament staff/ SUN contributing writers
Conventual Franciscan Friars welcome new director of public relations
Less than a month into his new job as director of public relations for the Conventual Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception Province, Edward “Ted” Byrnes can say that he has gotten his feet wet. Having just returned from a five-day trip to West End, N.J. for the international conference of the Conventual Fransician Friars where he met with friars from across the globe to discuss all things friar, he is busy preparing a press release for an upcoming service project.
Byrnes comes to the friars from Pensacola, Fla., where he was employed as managing editor and art director of Foundation magazine, published by the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Prior to that, he served as the communications and marketing manager for the Syracuse Community Health Center. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and writing from SUNY Potsdam and an associate of applied science degree in journalism from Morrisville College. He is a graduate of Fayetteville-Manlius High School.
After two years in Florida, Byrnes said that he is excited to be back in his hometown of Syracuse and work with such a community-rooted ministry as the Conventual Franciscan Friars. “I have family in the Syracuse area so it’s nice to be back. But I have always cared about Syracuse,” Byrnes said. “I am fortunate to have found a job with the friars that gives me such an opportunity to become involved with the community.” The director of public relations is a newly-created position for the friars. According to Brother Tom Purcell, OFM Conv., director of vocations for the Conventual Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception Province, it was time for the friars to spread the message about who they are and what they do. “To better help us tell our story to a greater population, we needed to be able to use modern means, which includes hiring an individual to assist with community relations,” said Brother Tom. “Having Ted to help us with this will be invaluable.”
Byrnes noted that some of his responsibilities include promoting the mission, goals, character and ministries of the Franciscans as well as enhancing the organization’s visibility and relations with the larger community. He believes that having one person to focus on these tasks will allow the friars more time to engage in other aspects of their full lives. Of the 59 applicants for the position, Brother Tom said that Byrnes was best suited for the job. “We certainly sensed from Ted an openness to learn and a desire to expand his knowledge,” said Brother Tom. “He has many of the qualities that will be useful in helping us to tell our story.” Within the framework of his work, Byrnes added that his activities will focus on increasing the membership of the friars. He hopes that as the friars’ work and mission become more recognizable, more young men will be attracted to community life. Increasing visibility can be something simple, said Byrnes. For instance, he plans to create a quick fact sheet to distribute on the history of the Franciscans and their service to the community. “Prior to the creation of a public relations director position, no one would know what was going on with the Franciscans unless they knew a friar or received a direct mailing from one of them,” said Byrnes. “The friars are very busy men who are out and active in the community doing great things. Their ministry is not simply a job for them, but a way of life. I am in the position where I can share the good news with people.”
The Conventual Franciscan Friars is one of the oldest orders of a worldwide Catholic brotherhood based on the example of St. Francis of Assisi. While committed to their spiritual vocation of prayer, service and community, many Conventual Franciscans also maintain careers as educators, physicians, business professionals and many other facets of civic life. There are more than 5,000 Conventual Franciscan Friars across the globe, of which more than 100 reside within the Immaculate Conception Province that stretches from Ontario, Canada, to North Carolina. For more information about the friars, call Brother Tom Purcell at (315) 473-0952.