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Deepening Catholic values in Indonesia through parish media

Jakarta Archdiocese's efforts to cultivate faith among parishioners is being greatly enhanced on media platforms

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Deepening Catholic values in Indonesia through parish media

Members of St. Luke Church’s social communications desk with Father Matius Harry Sulistyo, chairman of Jakarta Archdiocese’s Commission for Social Communications, after a parish media awards ceremony in Jakarta on June 30. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari/ucanews.com)

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Shannen has regularly visited the official website of her parish — St. Luke’s Church in the Sunter Agung area of Jakarta — since it was launched in Dec. 2009.

The site, managed by the parish’s social communications desk, contains daily biblical reflections, the liturgical calendar and information about the parish and its activities, as well as related photos and videos.

A 30-member desk and parishioners, including the 23-year-old university student, provide all content.

Shannen, who like many Indonesians only goes by one name, says she has written many articles on activities conducted by the parish’s Faith Companion for Teens group.

“My parish website is simple in terms of design but very informative. It can be accessed for free easily. For a young person like me, the information is good and helps broaden my knowledge of various ministries in my parish,” she said.

She also credits the content having also taught her how to share joy and peace with others. “It helps gives me the strength to continue serving others,” she said.

St. Luke’s Church is not the only Jakarta Archdiocese parish which uses some form of media platform, be it a website, regular magazine or weekly bulletin, to deepen Catholic values among parishioners.

According to the archdiocese’s Commission for Social Communications, 52 out of 66 parishes manage websites, while about 30 publish regular magazines that focus more on parishioner activities. Yet each parish distributes a free weekly bulletin containing Sunday biblical reflections and parochial announcements.

For Meity Emiliana, a 68-year-old parishioner from Jakarta’s Sacred Heart Church, her parish weekly bulletin meets her needs.

“I rarely use the parish website because I’m a bit old-fashioned, I guess. But I always read Sunday reflections written by a priest in the weekly bulletin, which are very interesting. I can better understand Catholic values such as behavior transformation,” she said.

Significant role

According to commission chairman Father Matius Harry Sulistyo, parish media play a significant role in deepening Catholic values among parishioners since content generally highlights so-called “universal humanity.”

Universal humanity is the idea that humans are, in some ways, the same, possessing the same needs and rights, as a guiding principle of humanitarian action.

In this special archdiocesan Year of Wisdom, parishes have been encouraged to fill their websites and other media platforms with content which highlights such values.

Declared by Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta in January, the Year of Wisdom, with the slogan “Implement Pancasila: We are Wise, The Nation is Dignified,” aims to deepen Catholics’ understanding of the state philosophy’s fourth principle — democracy guided by consensus.

Pancasila (five principles), enshrined in the preamble to Indonesia’s 1945 constitution, stresses belief in one God, a just and civilized society, a united Indonesia, democracy guided by consensus, and social justice for all.

“Parish media is very important especially in this digital era to proclaim the goodness created by the Catholic Church. At the same time, parish media helps the Catholic faith grow among parishioners through its content,” the priest said.

In the near future, parishes served by the archdiocese are expected to lean more towards their websites and social media than towards their regular magazines.

“But I’ll tell them to conduct a survey first. If the number of magazine readers is 50 percent or more of the total parishioners, it should be maintained. But if the number is less than that, they will only need to distribute a weekly bulletin,” he said.      

Awards

To improve the quality of parish media content, the commission has introduced its Inter Mirifica (INMI) and HIDUP awards for parishes which have the best content.

The awards introduced in 2011 and 2016 respectively are given out each year to mark the World Day of Social Communications.  

“We want to evaluate parish media and show appreciation for what they do [to proclaim Catholic values]. We also want to keep their spirit burning,” Father Sulistyo said.

This year, the awards were handed out during a ceremony on June 30 at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta. St. Luke’s Church won “Best of the Best” in the parish website category.

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