Bishops, Church leaders learn social media tools for ministry

Posted By: Chris On:

HUALIEN, Taiwan, Nov. 18, 2011?More than 30 bishops, priests, religious and lay people from 10 Asian countries learned different social media tools during the 16th annual FABC-OSC Bishops’ Meet in Hualien, Taiwan Nov 14-19.

In a two-day training workshop Nov 15-16, the participants understood better the workings of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others through multi-media presentations and hands-on sessions facilitated by Manila-based Fr. Stephen Cuyos.

The participants learned visual storytelling and how to translate Biblical narratives into the language of digital communications. The delegates also engaged in virtual interaction and connected with “digital citizens” using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). They also learned first-hand that online games can be used to teach human and Christian values.

Cuyos, a Missionary of the Sacred Heart (MSC), who oriented the participants to social networking realities in Asia and beyond, is a production and training specialist for Communications Foundation for Asia (CFA).

He said young people are now engaged in chatting and blogging, sharing photos, sharing videos, playing games as well as sharing software.

For the so-called “online culture,” the consequences are many-fold. They flatten organizations and dissolve hierarchies because “all of us, regardless of race, culture and position, can be friends in social networks,” the priest said.

The shift from “control to collaboration” is also a reality in the social media sphere along with the immediacy of feedback, good or bad. The tendency for today’s youth is to think “entertainment as king!” and “if it is popular, then it must be true!”

Evangelization efforts may be included in social media activities. But it is necessary, Cuyos said, to, first, “friend” people (include in one’s friends list). “Friend” is a verb in social media conversations, the priest said, likewise, the term “favorite.”

It is “imperative to use popular media” like Facebook and Twitter, and to “entertain” using videos and images which speak more than do plain text. The Church should also launch evangelization efforts that are “collaborative,” by having partners who may share different forms of expertise in online activities.

In the end, Cuyos encouraged the participants to learn more about social media. Wherever possible, the Church should strive to devise her own content or applications in order to truly share in the worldwide dialogue offered by social media tools.

The participants are bishops responsible for social communications, their national secretaries, as well as religious and lay collaborators from India, Myanmar, Mongolia, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, Brunei, Taiwan, Thailand and Philippines.

The 16th annual “Bishops’ Meet” was organized by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences – Office of Social Communication (FABC-OSC). (Anthony Roman)


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