From 12 until 15 October I facilitated a training for pastoral ministry in the digital world at the Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA) in Sta. Mesa, Manila. The participants were 13 MSC priests from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. The workshops included in the four-day event were Blogging, Podcasting and Photography. Then from 17 until 18 October I facilitated another media workshop for the MSC formands in Banawa, Cebu City. For two days I trained the 35 college formands how to use social networking and photography for evangelization.
There are more than 2,000 Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) priests and brothers working in diverse ministries in more than 50 countries worldwide. The mission of every MSC is to “make the Sacred Heart of Jesus known and loved everywhere.” Although their founder, Father Jules Chevalier, did not foresee the invention of the internet, I believe that his “everywhere” includes the cyberspace – the space in which online and digital communication takes place.
In a previous post, I have outlined the reasons why Church leaders should use the internet. The three reasons being (1) to reach and enrich (2) to proclaim and explain and (3) to accompany and guide. The digital world offers pastoral ministers new ways of confronting people with the Gospel message. The late Pope Paul VI himself said that “The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if it failed to use the media for evangelization” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 45).
Many members in the MSC congregation consider digital ministry as a specialized apostolate reserved to media professionals. Through the workshops they have just undergone, some members now acknowledge the fact that digital ministry is not a domain restricted to a few MSC professionals, but a major apostolic activity for all the members. While it is obvious not all priests/missionaries should be full-time in media ministry, it is necessary that every pastoral minister must be well-versed in the language, symbols, and strengths and weaknesses of the digital means of communication. For only through this that they will effectively be able to reach and enrich the online world, to proclaim and explain the Gospel message, and to accompany and guide the people they are called to serve.