Don G. Rapadas
Vocation directors of various dioceses and religious congregations with their lay collaborators throughout the Philippines gathered at the Pope John XXIII Pastoral Center for the opening of the 20th DVP National Convention. More than 200 delegates converged at the diocesan center for this biennial meeting, which focused on the “Role of Mass Media in the Vocation Ministry.”
Delegates started to come in Sunday evening, with the biggest group arriving just two hours before the opening Mass held at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral and presided by Surigao bishop Antonieto Cabajog, along with new Episcopal Commission on Vocations chair, Bishop Florentino Lavarias and the convention delegates, working staff, local clergy and parishioners, students, and other guests, including convention speakers Nestor Torre of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Fr.Jboy Gonzales of the Jesuit Music Ministry.
In his homily, Bishop Cabajog talked about the language that God speaks and turned his reflection on the experience of “those who came upon the cave at Bethlehem and there found the Holy Family.” God speaks the language of love that is expressed in understanding, in patience, in humility,” Bishop Cabajog said. “ Everything that Jesus did manifests the love of God,” he added, noting that the language of God is not always spoken but most of the time understood in the life of Christ the Word Incarnate.
The convention, which ran until Friday, April 28 featured distinguished media practitioners from print, advertising, radio, and music industries, both secular and religious. Talks were solidified by actual workshop outputs, both transpiring at the Provincial Convention Center.
It was the first time in the 20-year history of this biennial meeting of vocation
directors that the role of mass media in vocation promotion was taken up.
Vocation promoters on their second day of conference deepened their reflection on the nature and impact of mass media and identified ways of how to use its various forms not only for vocation promotion but for raising the level of spirituality of the Christian community.
Sessions for the day focused on the power of mass media to influence people and how the Church has responded so far to the challenge it poses.
Nestor Torre, opinion columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, noted the inherent power of mass media to magnify its impact, which he referred to as the capability to multiply “exponentially.”
“The media is neutral; it is there for bad or good, depending on how it is used,” he said, commenting on the distinct strengths of the various forms of media.
Mr. Torre underscored the need to establish our openness to the recipients of our message, and strive to come up with vocation promotion materials that present faith and spirituality as a part of life.
Meanwhile, Bishop Lavarias said in his homily during the Mass that human beings are made for meaning, and that this meaning is what we communicate to other people, including our self worth. He noted that sometimes, the media gives us the impression that our worth is dictated by what is in demand in the “market,” and this, he said, have made us regard media as negative.
“However, that perception has changed; now we see media as a part of our ministry,” Bp. Lavarias said. “As we live the meaning in our lives, we are the very core of our ministry,” he said, encouraging the vocation promoters gathered to realize this ministry in and through the various forms of mass media.
The Church response to the challenge of mass media marked the second half of the day, with Fr. Jboy Gonzales of the Jesuit Music Ministry and Fr. Eric Santos of the Manila clergy citing the various ways by which the local Church have made use of the media in vocation promotion.
Fr. Jboy pointed out that we have to know first why we are promoting the vocations and who is our target audience and how they really think and feel.
“We might use media in our apostolate, but our use of media may not be appropriate anymore,” he said, commenting on the need for our vocation promotion materials to inform and persuade.
He also said our audio-visuals materials used in vocation promotion if there are any) should be fast and furious presentations, not long and “Holy Friday” presentations, are wittingly and tastefully done, and that the concept or story for our poster or video must come from us who know our own congregations.
Fr. Jboy added that with vocation promotion, we encourage people to share in a particular lifestyle and spirituality, and form people to become leaders who will contribute to the advancement of society and God’s kingdom. He also advised us to personalize our statements and never be afraid or become hesitant to share our struggles in the vocation. “If they see that we are not human and they cannot identify with us, they will not enter (our congregation),” he said.
Meanwhile, Fr. Eric underscored the need for the Church to really get involved in media work, and its pastors and religious into adequate media education and training in order to use it in the work of evangelization, and specifically in vocation promotion.
Fr. Eric capped his talk by saying that it is indeed a colossal job to take in media as a part of our ministry but it is something which we cannot avoid. “The Church has no other way to go but to embrace media in order to form and foster the truth. In our work as vocation directors, we can make use of all these to bring more young people to serve the Lord,” he said.
Convention delegates here learned creative development, media planning, below-the-line communications, and best practices in advertising in the continuation of the role of mass media in vocation promotion.
Joycelyn Villacorta of award-winning ad agency Ace Saatchi & Saatchi, said the task of recruiting a “few good men” into the priesthood or religious life would only succeed with a powerful and timely message, and as she said, the most powerful communication is one that touches both the heart and mind.
“Communication can persuade; it can move people and it can change their behavior and the way they feel about things. If people respond to
communications of products and causes, then all the more we should use it for vocation promotion,” she said.
However, an effective communication strategy, she added, must begin with a good understanding of the “target market” and a deliberate choice of the message to convey.
“Know their lives, their concerns and perceptions; what are their hopes and aspirations, what are the barriers or issues in their mind about vocations,” Villacorta said, noting that perceptions are real and they move a person.
She also pointed out the need to be clear with what we are promoting out there and know the answers to questions like, “What is your offer? What is your vocation all about? What are you trying to offer them? How can it make himself and his life better? What are the satisfactions or issues of recruits in the past?”
Meanwhile, Raul Floresca, creative director of Ace Saatchi, used the framework of the creation story to discuss the dynamics of creative development.
On the metaphor of light, he advised the vocation directors to take a look at the prospective recruits - where they live, where they go, and what they do. The way we communicate our message depends a lot on their environment,” he said.
On the aspect of space, he advised the delegates to fill their minds with ideas from experience, interaction, and environment; and the brave enough to venture into new things. “Who said you cannot do vocation promotion in gyms, or organized dance competitions to do such?” he said.
Floresca said it also good consult others opinion on our vocation promotion strategies, get members in our acongreagation or diocese to be involved in developing ideas, and never be frustrated once ideas get show down in the process, because as he said, it could lead to something better.
Meanwhile, on media planning, Andrew Agbay briefed the delegates on the strength s of the local newspapers, radio, and television stations, and how to choose the best available medium for our respective vocation promotion strategies in terms of nationwide or local exposure.
“The good news is that we have friends in the media who are willing to help and there is the Catholic Media Network and Radyo Veritas that we can always turn to for our communication requirements,” he said.
Events can also be opportunities for engaging our possible recruits, including young professionals. “We can invite them to share their skills in information technology or in arts and crafts for possible future employment, conduct career and vocation counseling programs of our parish or community,” said Elizabeth Figueroa of Ace Saatchi.
Our friends from Ace Saatchi capped their presentation with a three-point message to convey to our possible recruits, and these are to make them just say “yes” when in doubt, make them see priests and religious as the happiest people in the world, and make them find fulfillment in making a difference to others.
Workshops by regions followed, focusing on respective vocation promotion strategies with media component.
On the last day of intensive talks and workshops, vocation promoters broadcast and deepened their sensitivity to good and bad mass media.
Bernard Cañaberal, national director of the Family Rosary Crusade and board member of Signis Asia, a worldwide association of Catholic communications, talked about the nature and impact of media on the values and relationship within the family.
“The family is the keystone of civilization; it is primordial to the development of character, “he said. “But young people are getting more hooked not only to their music and the TV screen, but also to the cellular screen, and as it gets smaller, it becomes more powerful,” he added.
Cañabreal noted the alarming fact that ouryoung people learn from the media more than they learn from their parents and it has become more powerful than the traditional institutions like the Church and the school.
The challenge now, he said, is to become more attuned to what our children and young people see on the media, be more critical of the images and messages conveyed, and guide the youth to be more discerning of bad and good media.
“Bad media is bad but the greater evil is media ignorance. The challenge is for us to be very critical and analytical of media, and then we will use media for our sake,” Cañabral added.
He also engaged the delegates into developing practical skills such as appropriate language for AM and FM radio, voice training, choice of music, production of sound effects, and writing a script for radio.
The last day of the convention focused on reports and the direction which the vocation ministry will take in the next two years. The election of national officers was also held. The concluding Mass was presided over by the re-elected National Vocations Coordinator, Fr. Jason Laguerta after which the Convention Statement was read. The next DVP National Convention will be held in 2008 at Palo, Leyte.
I congratulate and thank the DVP officers and staff for coming up with this newsletter. The Role of Mass Media in Vocation Ministry was the chosen topic for the 20th DVP National Convention, held in Surigao, last April 2428, 2006. I believe this newsletter is one of the concrete fruits and results of the said convention.
I join you in praying to the Lord of the Harvest to help you make this newsletter an effective instrument for the DVP, as a national coordinating body, in fulfilling its aims, namely:
1. helping in the promotion of Church vocations:
a. the Diocesan Priesthood
b. the Consecrated Life
c. the Secular Institutes, Evangelical Life and Mission.
2. fostering of the religious and apostolic spirit among:
a. the Mission Vocation Directors and Directresses
b. Priests, Brothers and Sisters c. Lay Promoters
d. Vocation Prospects
Mabuhay po kayong lahat!
+FLORENTINO G. LAVARIAS, DD
Bishop of Iba
Friends and fellow vocation ministers,
An unknown author once said, “If your nose is held to the grindstone rough, and you hold it down there long enough, soon you’ll say there’s no such thing as brooks that babble and birds that sing. Three things will all your world compose: just you, the grindstone and your darned old nose’. For fear that the same thing would happen to the Directors of Vocations in the Philippines - Episcopal Commission on Vocations (DVP - ECV), we are reviving the DVP Newsletter.
The officers do not wish to have the monopoly of’ information or updates on vocation-al issues; in the same way that we also do not wish you to have your vocation—related activities for yourselves. We would like everyone to be informed regarding the interesting activities and happenings in the world of the vocation ministry here in our country. It is important that we are in constant communication with each other. To share our best practices. To exhale our struggles. To exchange insights and strategies. Let the DVP Newsletter be our instrument in achieving all these.
We are happy to publish this initial edition. And we are hopeful that everyone eventually gets involved. If you have ideas and suggestions, please feel f’ree to write and give us some feedback. This is a work in progress and we are all in this together.
Mabuhay ang DVP. May buhay sa vocation ministry.
FR JASON H. LAGUERTA
NEWS FROM THE REGIONS
The new set of national officers of the Directors of Vocations in the Philippines met for the first time in Iba, Zambales to make initial plans for the programs and activities of the DVP for the next two years. Traveling from Manila, the officers had an overnight at a beach resort last September 10-I I, 2006 courtesy of the Most Rev. Florentino Lavarias, D.D., Bishop of Iba and the new chairman of the Episcopal Commission onVocations.
Together with Bishop Lavarias, the national officers planned on intensifying the vocation formation activities of the DVP by updating the program of the seminars being conducted and adding new ones. Also discussed was the possibility of having common vocation posters and radio advertisement campaigns, a nationwide vocation club and the revitalization of the DVP Office at the CBCP Building in Intramuros, Manila.
The new DVP Officers are Fr. Jason H. Laguerta, Archdiocese of Manila (National Coordinator/Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Vocations), Fr. Joel Francis S. Victorino, Diocese of Antipolo (National Finance Officer), Fr. Mariano C. Ranera, Rogationist Fathers (Executive Secretary for Religious) and Miss Mary Ann S. Cruz, Diocese of Cubao ( Executive Secretary for the Laity).
I n response to their ministry as vocation animators, the Archdiocesan Commission on Vocations (ComVoc) headed by Fr. Rochester Charles Toter Resuello visited recently various schools in the different parishes of the Archdiocese of Lipa to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
The ComVoc Team has conducted on four Saturdays (October 21 & 28 and November 4 & 11) half-day “Life Direction Seminars” at the De La Salle School campus in Lipa, Batangas. The said seminars discussed themes on Vocation in General, Prayer, Discernment and Recollection. The seminars were attended by college students and young professionals.
A sportsfest was also organized for the members of the Knights of the Altar coming from the different parishes of the Archdiocese of Lipa. Through sports and camaraderie, the sportsfest hoped to encourage the young to see the beauty of the life of service.
About five thousand young people from Metro Manila and Rizal province gathered on November 24-25, 2006 for the 2nd Regional Vocation Festival at the San Juan Arena in San Juan, Metro Manila. Dubbed as “God’s Dream Academy Jesus: Heart 2 Heart” , the overnight activity was held to inspire and capture the hearts of the youth towards a purposeful life direction, forming real values in life and challenging them in their journey through life by choosing God as their only good.
A joint activity of the Directors of Vocations in the Philippines- National Capital Region (DVP-NCR), the Ministry for Youth Affairs (MYA) and the Heart of Jesus Jubilee Secretariat, this was a follow-up of the first vocation festival held in 2004 which was hosted by the Diocese of Antipolo. This year’s edition was hosted by the Archdiocese of Manila in celebration of the Year of Social Concerns (proclaimed by the CBCP), the first encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” of Pope Benedict XVI and the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Pius Xll’s encyclical, “Haurietis Aquas” (on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus).
Youth delegates from theArchdiocese of Manila, the Dioceses of Antipolo, Cubao, Kalookan, Novaliches, Paranaque, Pasig and the Military Ordinariate of the
The next Regional Vocation Festival will be held in the last quarter of 2008. It is hoped that more young people will be able to encounter God and His calling for them in the next youth gathering.
The Archdiocese of Palo celebrated its annual Vocation Month last September, 2006 with a number of activities that included vocation promotion in various schools and parishes, puffing up of posters and other vocation paraphernalia, march for vocations and an archdiocesan-wide jamboree for vocation awareness.
Fr. Jason Laguerta, National Vocations Coordinator, was the main speaker for the Vocation Jamboree held last September 30, 2006 which gathered 789 delegates at
the Sacred Heart Seminary Auditorium in Palo, Leyte. Fr. Laguerta spoke on the topic, “Vocation: A Response to God’s Love”, while Fr. Thomas Eutenuer talked about the defense of human life. The afternoon program saw the presentation of the Oblates of Notre Dame who were celebrating their Golden Foundation Anniversary. Holy Mass was presided over by Rev. Fr. Virgilio Manaoag, Rector of the Sacred Heart Seminary.
Fr. Lito Maraya, Vocation Director of the Archdiocese of Palo, together with other priests, seminarians and religious men and women, spearheaded the successful celebration of Vocation Month, The Archdiocese of Palo has also started the preparations for the 21st DVP National Convention in the summer of 2008 which it will host for the second time.
We, the Clergy, Religious and Lay Vocation promoters and animators, gathered for the 20th DVP National Convention on April 24 to 28, 2006 in the Diocese of Surigao, recognize the need to respond to the multi-faceted challenges posed by mass media in the vocation ministry.
We have seen Jesus as the first communicator of “the call” - that in Him, we are challenged to animate and promote vocations to the people we share our lives with.
We have also seen the need to befriend mass media to creatively use mass media as a tool in harnessing and assisting vocations.
We saw the effects mass media has in the formation and discernment processes of
young people and the families, especially at a time when values of giving, caring and sharing are threatened and influenced.
- We commit ourselves to maximize the use of mass media in our efforts to
promote vocations in the Philippine Church by:
- being critical, analytical, reflective and discerning in interacting with media;
- knowing, understanding, and trusting mass media in our vocation ministry through formation programs and activities;
- creating opportunities in deepening family relationship, social justice, and Gospel values, and
- forming ourselves in the light of the Church Teachings on social communication and to share it to others.
In recognizing the role of mass media and the animating spirit that empowers us
in using the said medium in our vocation ministry, we further challenge ourselves to deepen our personal relationship with Jesus who is our Teacher and Pastor towards the fulfillment of our ministry.
Finally, in response to the challenges posed upon us, we believe that “[ifJ we
(vocation ministers) make a difference in their lives through actions, we stand a better chance of winning them over our side and inviting them into the holy life.” (McCann Erickson Study, October 2005).
The Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan held last September 10,2006 its Annual Vocations Congress with the theme, “Pumalaot Kayo” (Luke 5:4) Around 800 young people attended the said gathereing spearheaded by Fr. Raymond Ruga, Vocation Director of Calapan, together with priests, religious men and women, and seminarians.
Most of the delegates who attended were members of vocation clubs from various Catholic schools in Oriental Mindoro. The whole day affair included in its program a seminar workshop, talks on different vocations, presentations and group animation. A Vocation Promotion Parade-Rally was also held around the town of San Teodoro in Oriental Mindoro which hosted the said event, The Apostolic Vicar of Calapan, Most Rev. Warlito Cajandig, D.D., presided over the Mass of the congress.
The vocation congress signaled the start of intense vocation campaigns in Oriental Mindoro from September 11 to 15, 2006 which was participated in by a number of diocesan priests and seminarians and those from different religious congregations.