A diocese in northern Vietnam has started training parishioners how to become reporters so they can help promote evangelization and share church news with local people.
The Hung Hoa Diocesan Communication Committee and Yen Bai Deanery held the first ever course on communication skills September 19 and 20. The 24 attendees, mostly in their 20s to 40s, came from 20 parishes based in Yen Bai Province.
During the course at An Thinh Church, Nghia Yen District, they were taught how to write online reports on church activities in their areas for the diocesan website (www.giaophanhunghoa.org) in the future.
They also learned how to use their smartphones to take quality pictures to accompany their reports and received special classes in communicating Catholic spirituality.
Father Joseph Tran Quy Tuan, head of the committee, said the media play a major role in spreading news rapidly in society. “We should share church news with one another and have communion with other people,” he said.
Father Tuan said most people surfed the internet every day so there was an urgent need to train reporters to work for the diocesan site and share church information.
The priest said the diocese — it is by size the largest in Vietnam, covering part of Hanoi and nine mountainous provinces – lacked qualified reporters and its website was short of relevant local church news.
It has been left to a few priests and religious to contribute to it but they were busy doing pastoral work so it made sense for lay people to participate too.
Father Tuan said the aim of the first course was to provide openings for those with good communications skills to help provide news about the Church which, for some in the community, remained a mystery.
Father Peter Nguyen Dinh Den, head of the deanery which is home to various ethnic groups, said the long-overdue course was necessary for the local Church to share its activities and sufferings with people in other places; 43,000 Catholics in 20 parishes are active in various pastoral work and suffer natural disasters, poverty and difficulties in evangelization.
Father Den, pastor of An Thinh parish which has 5,200 members, said local people also had a keen interest in learning about the lives of other Catholics in the diocese, including their challenges.
One of the attendees, Mary Dang Thi Thanh Mai from Yen Bai parish, said she appreciated the course because it had opened her mind to church activities and how to report on them.
She said it had been so rewarding she was keen to acquire further reporting skills so she reports on Catholic news in her parish.
Participants and priests also established a communication committee and made plans to meet again.