MAKATI CITY, March 28, 2014 – Spreading the Gospel need not be confined to churches and pulpits alone.
Evangelization is at the religious and lay people’s fingertips through the utilization of social media, leading to the propagation of the good news on a wider scale.
“I see this new task with you as ministry of forming. In fact, I feel that I have to be the first one formed in many things about how to better communicate the Gospel in this day and age,” said Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media (ECSCMM) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) during the recent Bi-Annual Assembly of the Philippine Federation of Catholic Broadcasters-Catholic Media Network (PCFB-CMN) held at the San Carlos Seminary.
Vergara reiterated the call to Catholic media practitioners to bring the Gospel closer to the faithful by maximizing the technological advancements present in the modern world.
“In listening and learning, consequently, we go through a process of formation, our minds and hearts are formed to become better persons, perhaps better bearers of the Good News, better evangelizers,” added Vergara.
Echoing the words of Pope Francis, Vergara noted the need for Catholic individuals to be more engaged in evangelizing the good news through social communications.
Vergara mentioned how the Holy Father pointed out that the main challenge in social communications is not “principally technological, but something personal.”
“Even in the context of social communications, the Church is required to bring warmth, to warm hearts…We hold a precious treasure that is to be passed on, a treasure that brings light and hope,” he noted.
“All this, however, requires a careful and thorough formation in this area for priests, for religious men and women, for laity. The great digital continent does not only involve technology, but is made up of real men and women who bring with them what they carry inside, their hopes, their suffering, their concerns, their pursuit of truth, beauty, and good,” Vergara added.
Aside from undergoing formation, Vergara said, part of the tripartite mission to effectively evangelize is to listen to what the faithful have to say and to continuously learn from the Divine.
“In your job as broadcasters, you and I know that you care so much for your listeners—what they listen to from the radio and how they react to what they listen to. In the same vein, I want to assure you that my ministry in Social Communications will be a listening ministry,” Vergara said.
He told the audience that this “listening ministry” is something “the masses, the poorest of the poor” definitely need.
“I am aware that in order to know your needs, I have to listen first, listen well and listen with my mind and heart so that I can best respond to what is needed in our task to proclaim the Gospel so that [they], may be able to eventually listen to no one else but God who speaks through us,” he added.
Vergara, who served for eight years as Chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Seminaries prior to his appointment to the ECSCMM, admitted that he has a lot of things to learn in the ministry of social communications.
“I make a ‘leap of faith’ as I embark into this ministry of social communications. I must admit and I humbly tell you: “I do not know a lot of things about this ministry,” Vergara said in Filipino.
He urged the faithful to take the task of evangelizing as a learning ministry that could help everyone “explore more opportunities to reach out to those who need to know His Good News…””
The process of learning may only be fulfilled through continuous “unlearning” and “relearning” of the lessons acquired through one’s day-to-day living, he said.
“Let us just be consoled that we have only one teacher, our true Master, our only Rabbi—our Lord Jesus Christ. So let us learn from no one less but Him,” Vergara said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)