A new Asian Church institute launched its initial offering of online courses on communication and pastoral leadership via a webinar held on July 15.
The Veritas Asia Institute of Social Communication, or VAISCOM, offers leadership and management courses as part of programs that aim to enhance the social communication ministry of the Church.
“As we launch our online courses, we are mindful of both the benefits and challenges of the fast growth and development in the field of social communication,” said Bishop Roberto Mallari, FABC-OSC chairman.
“We take it as a gift to make maximum use of it and we face the challenges it presents to us,” added the prelate in his video message during the activity.
VAISCOM’s mission states that it aims to develop “communication competence” among Asian Church leaders” in FABC member-countries.
Bishop Mallari noted that in recent years, “the world of digital communication and interaction has developed in a rapid upward curve” and has become part of people’s lives.
“I believe that this pandemic has tremendously contributed even more to its development,” said the prelate.
He said the “greater implications of digitalization” can also be seen in the way businesses are operated, consumer buying, entertainment, medical, and even worship.
“In more ways than one, digitalization has improved efficiency and productivity at various levels of human life,” said the Filipino bishop.
He noted, however, the “challenges” that digitalization “impose[s], like issues concerning personal security and privacy, crime and terrorism, media manipulation and objectification, depersonalization and hate crimes, fake news and identities, over reliance and social disconnect, bullying and addiction and many more.”
Bishop Mallari said the Catholic Church reminds the faithful that “the real challenge in the process of proclaiming the Gospel, is not how to use the new technologies to evangelize, but how to become an evangelizing presence on the digital continent.”
“We certainly need to understand the power of this medium and to use all its potentialities and positive aspects, while still realizing that we cannot be carried out solely by using digital tools, but by offering spaces for experiences of faith,” he said.
“We have to avoid a virtualization of our faith life by offering a Catechesis that proceeds from religious information to accompaniment and to the experience of God,” said Bishop Mallari.
At least 37 priests, nuns, and lay people from Bangladesh, India, Italy, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand have already enrolled in VAISCOM’s online courses. – Raymond Kyaw Aung / Radio Veritas Asia