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SIGNIS Nigeria Hosts Media Seminar for Priests

Saturday 22 June 2013, by SIGNIS

Lagos, June 20, 2013 (Ambrose Igboke) - At a recent Media Seminar for Priests in Lagos Nigeria, sponsored by SIGNIS, the Catholic Episcopal Chairman for Communication in Nigeria, Most Rev. Emmanuel Badejo has charged priests to deploy all the available digital technology, including the social media, for effective evangelization and pastoral ministry.

Speaking in his keynote address at the first SIGNIS Media Seminar for Priests held recently at St. Agnes Catholic Church Maryland, under the aegis of the Center for Media Development of Lagos Archdiocese, the Prelate challenged Catholic priests to break away from just the use of the old methods of communication and embrace alternative digital services which will enhance their pastoral duties.

Bishop Badejo stressed that “the priest in the digital age cannot be a one pulpit citizen, banishing himself to just the pulpit in the church but he must be the 24 hour evangelizer, in a visually acute world, everywhere he goes becomes a pulpit from where he can be heard”. He admonished priests to reconsider the dynamics of proclamation and presentation in the light of social realities of the digital age and urged them to make use of the opportunities made available by the social media like facebook, twitter, YouTube and other internet facilities to reach out to their flock.

Also speaking at the event, which had 162 priests from Lagos Archdiocese as well as Abeokuta and Ijebu-Ode Dioceses, the Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins challenged priests to make proper and positive use of information technology for pastoral purposes. In his words; "we live in a rapidly changing and technologically driven world and we need to engage in digital media and know what to do and how to do it".

Furthermore, delivering a Paper at the seminar on the topic ‘Relevance of Human Communication to Pastoral Ministry’, the Director of the Center for Study of African Culture and Communications of the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CESACC), Rev. Fr. Dr. Joseph Faniran reminded participants that the purpose of the ministry of a priest is to communicate “the message of the good news that builds the kingdom of Christ, that transforms sinners into saints and restores hope, happiness and peace”. He enjoined priests to use their homilies and preaching to bring about meaning to people whose lives are sometimes dull, chaotic and threatened.

The communication scholar further argues that since Jesus, the word of God did not become an email or any of the tools of media, but a PERSON, all priests must ensure that all communication efforts in the parish are directed to building the human person in the community. He says “ Thus, in our attempt to carry out the three offices of teaching, sanctifying and governing, we should keep clearly in mind that the pastoral ministry is all about the Person - the Person of Jesus Christ, my person, the person of the other(s).”

Moreover, speaking on the theme of the seminar, “The Catholic Priest in the digital Age; Harnessing the Modern Means of Social Communication for Effective Pastoral Ministry”, another communication expert, Rev. Fr. Dr. Inaku Egere, advocated a marketing approach to the mission as a panacea for achieving effective pastoral communication today. This implies that pastoral agents must introduce and share the faith with the same conviction of a typical marketer today and apply the opportunities which the social networks avail to creatively “sell” Christ, the truth, to the people. In this light, priests must be present at the new market place, the new agora, the digital space. Fr. Egere said that this approach can only be attained through the deployment of digital and social communication channels.

In conclusion, the Director of the Center for Media Development, Rev Fr. Mike Umoh, advocated for a very strong media culture among priests which will help to establish a closer and personal pastoral relationship between the priest and his congregation. He also canvassed for the need to have more media seminars for priests so as to keep pace with the trends in social media.

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