Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham announced a special Year of the Family commencing the first week of Advent, Sunday, December 3, 2017 and concluding on the Feast of Christ the King, Sunday, November 25, 2018.
The announcement followed the release of Bishop Cunningham's second pastoral letter, Enriching the Church, The Role of the Family in the Life of the Church of Syracuse and Beyond. In his letter, Bishop Cunningham offers four practical, powerful, and effective ways to form a 'domestic church' within all diocesan families: Prayer & Worship, Formation, Community, and Service.
The goal of the Year of the Family is based on our diocesan mission of evangelization:
1. To help people discover Jesus through a personal encounter with him (know)
2. To encourage people to follow Jesus, becoming his disciple (live)
3. To proclaim the Good News and be a witness to Jesus (share)
At the onset, our goal was to increase social media likes/follows, increase our email subscriptions, and provide Bishop Cunningham with a weekly platform for sharing his message. Themes for messaging are adapted from Bishop's recent pastoral letter.
- Engage, evangelize and inspire our social media following via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube - DAILY
- Utilize Bishop Cunningham's new Twitter account, @bishoprjc, which launched in June 2017
- To reach our audience and drive traffic to our website & social media channels through email outreach - WEEKLY
- Weekly video messages from Bishop Cunningham are available exclusively via the Thursday evening diocesan email. They are subsequently uploaded to our Facebook page the following Monday (videos include captions to better-serve our audience)
- Each week, we include Bishop's video message, the Prayer for the Family (adapted for this special yearlong initiative), Sunday's readings, and more.
- To promote share stories of personal faith via our Profiles in Faith video series - ONGOING
- To effectively cross-promote diocesan communication efforts: social media, The Catholic Sun & Catholic TV - WEEKLY
Following the announcement of the special Year of the Family, Communications & Social Media Specialist Nicole Ossevoort created a detailed Communication Schedule that outlines type of communication, platform, deadline and live date, people involved, and the theme. The schedule is updated weekly.
- Communication to parishes, schools, and ministries via email (via internal diocesan email and MailChimp outreach to over 3,200 subscribers)
- Creation of custom, animated graphic to open Bishop's weekly video messages and official Year of the Family logo (parishes are encouraged to use the logo in their bulletin, on their website, and on social media)
- Regular Year of Family bulletin blurbs for parishes, which are distributed weekly
- Launch of two new pages on the diocesan website: The Year of the Family and Enriching the Church
- A third page containing a downloadable study guide that accompanies the pastoral letter will be live before Easter; this page will also include links for more resources (specific to families seeking to enrich their faith)
- Weekly related article in The Catholic Sun: as often as possible, the theme of the article coincides with the theme of Bishop's weekly video message
- Custom hashtag: #YearOfFamily
- A Year of the Family playlist on the Syracuse Catholic TV YouTube channel
- Related category on the diocesan event calendar (Year of the Family)
- Creation of a Year of the Family committee, which meets monthly to discuss related initiatives within the yearlong campaign. A sub-committee was also created to plan and execute a related event specific to ministering to Gen Z and their parents.
- Lent: creation of practical weekly Bible study for families (available each week in the print edition of the Sun and on their website)
- Additionally, we are encouraged that many parishes have a family-focused Lenten Mission this year, which indicates to us that they are participating in Bishop's initiative at the PCA/parish level
Nicole Ossevoort oversees all Year of Family committees and related initiatives.
To date, related initiatives have resulted in:
- Year of the Family emails have been opened 12,384 times (an average of 963 opens each week)
- Our open rate is consistently higher than the industry average (avg. of about 4% higher each week)
- Various links within the weekly Year of Family emails have been clicked a total of 2,641 times (emails include links to Bishop's video message, related article in The Catholic Sun, Sunday readings, events, and more)
- Increase in number of subscribers to our email list: + 412
- Email traffic to syrdio.org is up 189%
- Weekly email outreach is now the sixth top-referring source of traffic to the diocesan website
- The Year of the Family page on the diocesan website has been visited close to 1,400 times
- Likes and follows on the diocesan Facebook page are steadily increasing, as is post engagement and video views: to date, we are +173 Facebook likes and +185 Facebook follows since the Year of the Family began
- Bishop's weekly message and other Year of the Family videos have been watched for a total of 12,900 minutes and viewed over 38,000 times.
- Since the Year of the Family began, Bishop's Twitter account has averaged 3 link clicks/day, 3 retweets/day, 15 likes/day, and 1 reply/day. He has earned an average of 19 new followers a month since November
- The Syracuse Catholic TV YouTube channel has gained 188 new subscribers
- Diocese of Syracuse Facebook page
- @bishoprjc on Twitter
- @SyrDiocese on Twitter
- @syracusediocese on Instagram
- The Year of the Family YouTube playlist
- The Catholic Sun
- Year of the Family resources for parishes, ministries, schools