In his message for the 47th World Communication Day, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “Believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate choices, preferences and judgments that are fully consistent with the Gospel.”
During the Light of Faith event on April 23, Bishop John Noonan recognized the works of parish and school staff, volunteers and students who share the Light of Christ through their communication efforts. The event included a luncheon with a keynote address by Helen Osman (pictured), Secretary of Communications for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a roundtable discussion and communications expo with vendors and exhibits with examples of the best practices in videos, websites, social media, printed media and campaigns.
The diocesan event is tied to the Holy Father’s annual World Communication Day, which will be celebrated this year on May 12 and his message, “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization.”
In his address to guests, Bishop Noonan said the mission of the Church is all about communication. St. Matthew recounts the Lord’s call to us to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
“The challenge for us as Catholics is to know what the Lord has taught us so that we might effectively teach each other to observe all that the Lord has commanded us,” Bishop Noonan said. “Pope Benedict reminds us, like St. Francis,that we often teach by our example.”
Carol Brinati, Chancellor for Administration, commended the efforts of parishes and schools to bring the Light of Christ to their community and the world.
“From young people to seasoned communicators of God’s Word to volunteers, more than 200 entries from parishes throughout the nine counties of the Diocese of Orlando portrayed a richness of faith in the areas of social network, videography, reporting, speeches, art, photography, campaigns, brochures, newsletters, and many others. When placed altogether, the breadth of the evangelization within the Diocese of Orlando is awesome,” she said.
Another highlight of the day was the keynote address from Osman, who spoke on the theme designated by the Holy Father for the 47th World Communications Day. Osman oversees all communication aspects of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and has led its entry into social media.
She said that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tells us that digital social networks are creating a new public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions and in which new relationships and new forms of community are coming into being. These new digital platforms if used properly can “effectively promote the harmony of the human family.”
Osman said the Vatican is taking the new form of communication seriously because it realizes the world in on a paradigm shift in how people communicate. Osman equated these changes to those that occurred when the printing press and radio and television were introduced to the masses.
She shared fundamental ways social media is changing the way people communicate, such as the roles of information creator and information consumer are no longer distinct. Today, anyone can be a journalist, a video producer and a writer. News outlets can no longer pride themselves as being gatekeepers of information.
“Social media is proving itself to be a force with which to be reckoned,” Osman said, adding that we need to adapt to this new media in evangelizing to the world. “Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of social media can allow us to be good stewards of it. We are able to use its unique attributes to strengthen the human community and to be more effective witnesses to the Gospel.”