Isaac Harold Gomes (Kolkotta Correspondent)
The Archdiocese of Calcutta, under the initiative of Rev. Fr Dominic Gomes, Vicar General, has formed a Social Communication Cell at Archbishop’s House, Kolkata. The purpose is to put life into the communication commission of different parishes and strengthen it.
For Phase I, fifteen parishes in Kolkata were identified. It was felt these parishes were in need of hand-holding assistance and guidance in bringing out their own parish newspaper. After a few meetings, both Fr Dominic and Farrell Shah, Team Leader strongly felt that an Alignment Workshop would do the Facilitators a world of good and enable them provide seamless service to these parishes.
On 6th December 2014 a team comprising Rev. Fr Devraj Fernandes, Farrell Shah, Althea Phillips, Ruth Joseph and Isaac Gomes, met at Archbishop’s House at 7.45 amand left for Praggaloy, Barasat, where the programme was scheduled from 9 am to 4 pm. Rev. Fr Leo Jayaraj and Rev. Fr Robin Gomes joined the team at Barasat.
With a warm handshake, Fr Anthony Rodricks the unassuming host, straightaway led the team to the breakfast table. After a hearty breakfast, the programme began with a very encouraging address by Fr Anthony. He requested that the team from Kolkata give some tips on writing a parish newspaper, to a delegation of 20 Church leaders from Bongaon Parish (24 Parganas North). Farrell and Isaac had half-an-hour interactive session with the delegates and explained to them the nuances of reporting in a church journal. Farrell shared them the formula of What, When, Why, Where, How and Who for successful report writing. The delegates were so quick on the uptake that they put up a short demonstration on what they had learned! For the Facilitators it was a successful test launch!
After this Fr. Devraj spoke on Communication in the Church, especially the Church’s Mission. He said social media reporting should be truthful, just and at the service of common good. He quoted from various Church documents including the utterances of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and the message of Pope Francis on 48th World Communication Day.
In clinical fashion, Farrell dwelt on the Workshop’s Order & Objectives and Types of Media for Parish Journalism. Participants were divided into groups and were asked to identify the pros & cons of each media option (Newspaper, Social Media and Verbal Communication e.g. Church Announcements). He stressed on the necessity of a Parish Newspaper in each parish to give the youth a launching pad to express themselves in a creative manner and to prepare a pool of future-ready media savvy youth for the Archdiocese.
Session II was on creating Parish-relevant Contents (PREPS – Photographs, Recognition, Event, Prayer Life and Showcase) for various media, Team Skills & Techniques and the economics of church newspaper publication. Farrell said that Parish Newspapers should be parish-specific i.e. news mainly on the happenings in the Parish interspersed with moderate Fillers.
The Workshop ended with a highly creative session on assembling an editorial & design team, writing articles, choosing a name for the publication, the issue line and finally publishing the newspaper on the tab, with Editor's (Fr Robin) autograph!
Special thanks to Fr Devraj for all the help including silken-smooth driving and to Fr Anthony Rodricks for the hospitality.
ISAAC HAROLD GOMES (Member ICPA)