Cebu News

Priests urged: Use new media to preach gospel

Kristine B. Quintas/FPL - The Philippine Star

CEBU, Philippines - The social media-savvy auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has called on the priests and the members of the clergy to maximize the use of social media for evangelization.

Most Rev. Robert Barron said social media like Facebook and YouTube is an “extraordinary tool” to propagate the gospel, stressing that all must adapt to the revolution of communications technology.

 "Yes to social media (to preach) as long as it (information) is backed up by old media (books). Facebook, YouTube like that is 24/7 around the globe. If we don’t use that you will miss an extraordinary opportunity,” he said.

 Barron is known for his digital ministry—he is all over social media, his sermons are on the radio and available for download on iTunes. His Facebook page has about 800,000 likes.

 He is the founder of Fire Catholic Ministries and host of “Catholicism,” an award-winning documentary about the Catholic faith.

Barron shared that before he became social media-savvy, he spent a “long” time with the old media from books.

 “You got something to say because the danger is, people get out of the new media, they become so tendentious and contentious,” he said.

 “A call within a call. A call within a priest is the call of evangelization. I encouraged them to have something to say and that means you read. To those involve in media, read read read... And then pray pray pray. Ground yourself in the Eucharist and prayer above all and read above all,” he added.

 Bishop Mylo Hubert Claudio Vergara, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, agreed that the priests need to incorporate new ways of evangelizing people and propagating the word of God.

Vergara, however, said they must be rooted from credible teachings and sources of information.

 "Before we go to new media make sure that the foundations to proclaim the gospel is done, so we have to go back to old media," he said.

 He said priests should be kept updated with regards to theology, catechesis "so they can have a solid substance on what to preach and proclaim so that what they teach is coming really from what they studied well."

 He said this is a call for the members of the clergy to "engage more to catechesis and evangelize more," lamenting that the country has only 10-15 percent active Catholics despite thousands of people going to churches.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma agreed, saying "it's a call for them, for all of us. It is a big challenge."

 Vergara admitted that this challenge is a "daunting task" to perform and realize for the church.

"It is indeed a great challenge for the church, bishops and priests. We have responsibilities to see new methods and strategies to evangelize," he said.

 Palma hopes that there is a renewed enthusiasm and interest in the Eucharist. "But, we should make good use of social media,” he said.

 Vergara has seen the need to create guidelines on how to evangelize, effectively that is accessible, dynamic and attractive to the people. But he clarified that traditional lectures and teachings of the church are constant.

He was also asked in a press conference yesterday to comment on the observation that significant number of Catholics prefer to attend mass in shopping malls that is reportedly “more interesting.”

 Vergara said he had witnessed that some malls have chapels, which according to him, is a “new way of looking at Ecclesiology are being church and new way of evangelization.” —(FREEMAN)












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