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Catholic nun working as a media person

Tuesday 26 April 2016, by SIGNIS

Ujjain, April, 26th, 2016 (Ucan). Catholic nuns as media persons are rare in India. UCAN has written an entire article on one specific nun, Tessy Jacob, a member of the Holy Spirit congregation and a second-year student of journalism at Christ College, Bangalore, in southern India, so that she can explain her special life.

Tessy Jacob is now interning for a television channel, the Ishvani channel, in Ujjain, the cultural capital of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and one of the holy places of Hinduism. Often, when she goes to cover an event, she dresses in civil clothess, but then people think that she has left her religious life. It is so rare to see a nun working in the media that people don’t know it exists!

She is grateful that her superiors allowed her to start a master’s course in media and communication. It has exposed her “to a different world and convinced her that media is a great but hidden opportunity for evangelization. Women religious in India have a promising role there.”

Nowadays, she says, “communication using modern methods has become an inevitable part of the religious circle. However, a digital divide exits among the religious in India because of the differences in the charisma and lifestyle of each congregation.”

She explains that “the Ishvani (good news) channel is managed by the Syro-Malabar Mission diocese of Ujjain. The fact that a channel dedicated exclusively to Christianity is allowed to function in a predominantly Hindu town is unthinkable, especially when religious intolerance permeates India.” She adds “Christian missionaries are targeted and religious institutions are attacked in various parts of the country. The term evangelization is being misinterpreted as attempts at conversion. We live in a situation where even helping the poor is seen as a façade for luring people to Christianity.”

She also says that many of her classmates and teachers ask her “what a Catholic nun can do in the media. From the little they know, they are aware that our life has its limits. I too used to wonder what contribution I could make in this field.”

Another area a religious has to tackle is the general perception that the media is full of fame and glamour. That may be one reason why religious congregations hesitate to integrate mainstream media activities into their charisma.

Her dream is “to freelance for the mainstream media to help the church get better exposure. News about Christians appears only when they are attacked or when they get into some scandal. The truth gets diluted by the time it reaches the public. The Indian media thinks attacks on Christians and their institutions are the aftermath of conversion attempts. Something has to be done to change this perception.”
She concludes by saying that she “envisions a day when national dailies and channels in India will have Catholic religious men and women in their boardrooms.”

To read the entire article, please click here.

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