Monday, January 21, 2013

A PREACHER'S WORLD: Online and Offline
(A Response to the First Dominican Social Media Summit)

And I consider myself as a Digital Native, and I know a lot of us are. But as we see the essence and need of reaching Jesus to everyone in the web, we are faced with a lot of struggles. Yet, we push through and bring the Fire of God's Love and Grace online and offline!

Among other IPLM members, I was chosen by a good Dominican Priest-friend to take part in the First Dominican Social Media Summit over the weekend. Being a participant in the Social Bloggers Meeting called for by the CBCP last June 2011, I have some ideas on what to be discussed on this Summit now called for by the Dominican Family Commission on Social Communication. Yet, the input we received from the speakers and the response I saw and heard from the participants are quite noticing and exciting.

First, the Input. The speakers gave different insights on the same Social Media. Since I was not able to record everything they said, I would just share some insights of what they shared with us. 

For Fr. Eric Salobir, OP, General Promoter for Social Communication of the Order, it's important to talk with the language of the present generation, to be geek with the geeks. They are bored with mere text anymore; they want something interesting - videos, pictures, etc. (something which I try to do lately.) There is also a challenge to be present, not being passive nor abrasive like the others, but leading others to Jesus like the Holy Father Dominic in a way that could easily catch their attention.

Prof. Christian Esguerra of the University of Santo Tomas, cited the essence of Social Communication in light of the Church Teachings, particularly Inter Mirifica and Communio et Proggresio. For him, citing CeP's words, Communication (...) is the giving of the self in love. He cited the need to provide the truth in everything we say and write on the web. There are the rising attacks of the Internet Trolls and the Social Mob, people who use the Social Networking Sites to bash and ridicule people, even if it should be a personal ideal. Once you post something on the web, it stays there forever, so we really should be careful with what we write, otherwise we should be silent.

Fr. Francis Lucas of the CBCP Office on Social Communications and Chairperson of the Catholic Media Network, took note of the Paradigm Shift which is happening lately on the online space. People nowadays are looking for answers to their questions, and so our job is not so easy at that. Sometimes, they are carried away by the people who are not for the REAL THING (which is Christ and his love) and instead join the wrong people which lead him to wrong ideals. He also said that even if we have the latest Social Networking Technology nowadays, it is still not a guarantee that we are doing good and right communication. In addition, we are gifts, and the Internet itself is a gift, so we should really use this gift with careful consideration on the dignity of the human person.

Second, the response. There was a part in the Summit where the different members of the Order engaged in Mass Media and Social Media shared their ministry to the people present. Just as I thought that Radyo Manaoag and the Dominican Media Board are enough, there are still a good number of ministries that we do not yet know, like Radyo Maria, Apostles Filipino Catholic Community FB Page, Sunday Psalms and Sounds over Radyo Veritas, and the famous Dr. Love show of Bro. Jun Banaag. Some use the Social Media to bring the concerns of the Mission Areas to the people, like Fr. Joemar Sibug's advocacy for Camiguin del Norte. Indeed, we are involved, and we set the world on Fire!

When I was informed of the sisters who would also join this summit, I was confused whether or not they would understand the message that today's generation is bringing us. Come to think of it, the older members of our race are not really accepting the things which our generation has. It's hard for them to comprehend what we do, like simply making an FB account.

And yet, I saw the enthusiasm of our dear religious and laity, especially the Dominican Sisters of different congregations, on these ideals. Though they live a very contemplative life, they are also seen active in different forms of Mass Media - Radio in particular. Now, as they enter the world of Social Media, they also welcome this call to be the beacons of light in a wild wild world (www). It should also be noted that some of them, too, have FB accounts!

As for me, I really saw this need to be more consistent on my ministry. Being a blogger for six years and a Fanpage moderator for two years, it's really a hell of a challenge for me to continue and keep moving for what I do. I received a lot of positive and negative feedback along the way and it's really degrading at some, yet here I am still continuing what I usually do, and I just don't know where do these things come from.

People ask me, where do I get all these ideals which I share in Ur Dose, or the drive to move Ave and Magnilay forward, and I just answer, I don't know. Divine Providence perhaps. And yes, it is. I should have stopped way back if it is not the work of Divine Providence, yet it still is. As a part of this generation, I really see the dire need to face this www with Christ's Word in a way enticing to them.

SB@B, Ur Dose, AM and MT would still be there to heed to the Church's call of being a preacher in our times. I reaffirm my vow to the Church to defend it and to set the online world on the Fire of Christ. It would always be possible as long as the drive is there; as long as the grace is there, we will move on. In God's grace, we will always answer with the Dominican motto: Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare!

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