In what appeared to be the biggest thrill of their life, the Philippine bishops in a workshop navigated the realm of social media, with many posting their first messages on Facebook.
For some there was a bit of apprehension of not knowing yet what to do at first, only ending up delighted in knowing that it wasn’t that difficult after all.
“The biggest thrill of doing this is to see the transformation inside and not outside,” said Vatican Radio director Sean Lovett.
He said he is excited to witness the transformation of the bishops in learning the new media, of seeing their eyes literally light up in excitement in discovering that opening a facebook account and posting photos and messages is much easier than they thought.
Lovett, together with Fr. Jerry Martinson, SJ is conducting a seminar-workshop on Media management and social media for the bishops leading to the CBCP plenary assembly on Jan. 25 to 27.
Exercise of communion
Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBP president, noted that the seminar workshop was an exercise of communion.
“The bishops humbly allowed themselves to be taught by younger people, by religious who might not be as well trained as they [bishops] are in theology but they are willing to learn from others. I think this should be celebrated as a step towards communion in the Church,” he said.
Members of the Pauline family from the Society of St. Paul, Daughters of St. Paul and the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master helped Lovett and Martinson in facilitating the workshop.
Villegas said having the Religious and seminarians facilitate in the workshop is also a blessing as it also presented “an opportunity for them to let go of their biases, their apprehensions that the bishops are stiff and rigid, so it became an opportunity for warming up of relationships.”
“There is really no substitute to a personal encounter, that it is not just about learning techniques, but the important thing is a personal encounter with each other and encountering Christ in each other, and that is evangelization,” he said.
“Evangelization is Jesus in my heart reaching out to your heart. I think that is a celebration of mutual evangelization,” the prelate furthered.
Villegas, who also has a facebook account that has already garnered 14 thousand likes, said the workshop helped further enhance the appreciation of those who are already using facebook, and for those who are not yet into it have discovered the value of social media.
Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon also said he is very happy about the workshop because it was not only “something that is seen as a youthful activity or something that only young people can get into but each and everyone of us, mainly because of the evangelization value of getting into the world of social media.”
For his part, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who already has an existing facebook account that has reached its 5000 maximum of friends, discovered another way of expanding his reach in cyberspace by opening a fan page.
“I made the first fan page during this workshop, so it is wonderful that in 10 minutes you can have already 27 friends,” he said.
Having learned also how to upload photos, Pabillo vowed to always accompany his posts with images from now on.
“The picture is so powerful and I know how to upload a picture now. So this is something that can be something of help and I resolve to update my facebook account more frequently,” he said.
Passion to use the new media
Lovett observed that although most bishops have the gadgets, the tablets, the Macbook and all the instruments, many of them also do not have the skills or the desire to use these instruments to their best capability.
But apparently the workshop did not only give them the skills but also fired them up to engage in social networking.
“It’s funny but the reality is that most of the bishops who are not media savvy, who do not have much experience about media came away from the session this morning not only with a greater awareness of the medium and not only with the realization that they can do it but the desire, the passion to use this new media, the social networking to stay connected with their young people, especially interact with them, and to inspire them in a new way,” he said.
“I have given many seminars to so many bishops, not only in one place in one time, and with such a diversity of age groups and experiences. We have one bishop [this morning] who does not have a cellphone, and by the end of the morning he had a facebook account,” Lovett raved.