CBCP precedes plenary assembly with social media seminar

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Sean Lovett gestures during a discussion in a seminar he gave to the Pauline family last November 2013.

MANILA, Jan. 19, 2014—A seminar-workshop on media management and social media will precede the annual plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines from January 25 to 27. 

Seàn-Patrick Lovett, vice president of CREC (Centre for Research and Education in Communication) and Director of Vatican Radio’s English Programme is in town to conduct the seminar-workshop on Jan. 21-23 upon the invitation of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. 

Lovett has been around many countries giving the same seminar to other bishops but he noted that “every bishops’ conference is different because every cultural context is different.” 

“I would love for the bishops to have a positive experience of media, to be empowered, to understand, to see something that they can do, to see something they want to do, to see something they need to do,” said Lovett in an interview. 

A multi-awarded communicator, Lovett has taught Communications courses at the Pontifical Gregorian University for 25 years. Pope Benedict in 2011 made him a Papal Knight in recognition for his 35 years of service to four Popes, beginning with Paul VI. 

He was named Catholic Communicator of the Year by the University of Dayton in 2012 and Christendom College awarded him the St. Thomas More Medal for Defence of the Faith. 

Basing from his experience and knowing how the new media can be intimidating to some people, Lovett admitted that “it is difficult sometimes to convince bishops to engage in social media.” 

“One of the ways, perhaps they can be convinced, is to remind them that we do need to connect, and that new media, social media allow us to connect to the people,” he said. 

The three-day seminar is organized following the process of discovering, experiencing and discerning. 

The first day of the seminar, which will begin in the afternoon of Jan. 21, will explore a more authentic communications approach in the era of Pope Francis by “Putting the ME back into the MEDIA”, and refining the skills and techniques needed to manage a media crisis effectively by “Putting the MAN back into MANAGEMENT.” 

On the second day, bishops will have a hands-on “using social media to interact and inspire, telling old stories in new ways using digital gadgets and technologies, dealing with a media crisis in a fearless and faithful way exercising personality, passion and patience, and responding to pressure from the press and meeting media expectations.” 

A half day session on the topics of “Understanding impact, influence and innuendo” and  “Everything you ever wanted to know about Catholic communications… will cap the seminar on Jan. 23. 

Lovett said he hopes the seminar-workshop will be of encouragement and inspiration to the bishops to use the new media. 

“I trust in the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said, “my job is just to open the door, and to invite the bishops to come in. It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to inspire them to do so. 

Paraphrasing the words of Pope Francis, that of the pastor smelling like the sheep, Lovett said: “And if the bishops want to be a true pastor, they really need to smell like a sheep, and if the sheep smell like social media, the bishop should smell like social media too.” 

Joining Lovett during the three-day seminar workshop is Fr. Jerry Martinson, SJ, an experienced trainer in the field of communications and media and formerly Vice President of the International Catholic Association of Film and Audio Visuals.

Some members of the Pauline Family—Society of St. Paul, Daughters of St. Paul and Pious Disciples of the Divine Master—will also participate as facilitators during the workshop. (PB/CBCPNews)

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