Social communications: new media and evangelization in Indonesia
by Mathias Hariyadi

From 26 May to 2 June, the Diocese of Weetbula, East Nusa Tenggara province, is organizing a week dedicated to radio, TV and internet. The event coincides with the 125th anniversary of the mission in Sumba. The participation of hundreds of faithful. Bishop Woga: "An opportunity to practice the Christian faith ."

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A new approach to new media to strengthen morale in the dioceses of the country and promote the Church's mission to proclaim the Gospel. This is an ambitious aim of the head of the Office for Social Communications of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI Kosmos) , Msgr. Petrus Turang and the new executive secretary Fr. Kamilus Pantus.

The local Catholic leadership has been focusing on technology and new media in the field of evangelization, promoting events and formation for priests, nuns, seminarians and lay faithful . The Day of Social Communications, 2014, will be held in the diocese of Weetbula on the island of Sumba, from May 26 to June 2; a week-long event which, this year, will also be part of celebrations for the 125 years of mission in Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara province, in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago.

Over the past six months, several dioceses in the country - Amboina, Malang, Merauke, Sibolga, Denpasar, Yogyakarta and Banjarmasin - have organized seminars dedicated to the use of radio, TV, print and online media , as well as workshops open to the public. These are initiatives have strengthened the awareness among the faithful of the importance of new technologies also in matters of faith and in the spread of Christian doctrine in the context of a modern society .

Thanks to these programs and seminars that several dioceses, with the help of laity who are experts and enthusiasts in this area, have been able to renew their website or "build one from scratch".  Out of  37 dioceses throughout the archipelago - says Fr . Pantus - today there are still 15 who do not have a dedicated website" and the goal is to fill this gap .

For Msgr. Turang the double celebration - 125 years of the Diocese of Weetbula and Day of Social Communications - are a strong signal and more contemporary form of evangelization, in an area most Indonesians are unfamiliar with. The choice of the diocese, the prelate added is the sign of a growing "interconnection" between the Church and local realities, also thanks to new media .

In his pastoral letter in preparation for the jubilee of 125 years Msgr. Edmund Woga , bishop of Weetbula, spoke of the hard work in preparation for the event and hopes that it will be an opportunity to "practice the Christian faith" in a deeper and more authentic way . The week of events will include seminars dedicated to new media, spiritual encounters , moments of prayer and meditation , cultural events, the celebration of the Eucharist and moments of entertainment.  Hundreds of faithful are expected to attend.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Catholics are a small minority of about seven million, or 3 per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the faithful reach 3.6 per cent of the population. Although the country's constitution recognises religious freedom, Catholics have been the victims of violence and abuse, especially in areas where extremist visions of Islam are entrenched, like Aceh.  Still, Catholics are an active component in society and contribute to the nation's development as well as to emergency operations when they arise, as was the case in last year's devastating flood.