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Catechists informed of essentials of social media usage

By Rose-Ann Walker, Catechetical Coordinator, Eastern Vicariate

Catechetical month was formally ushered in by the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office (ACO) on Saturday, September 5 with an initiative entitled ‘Catechesis Through/With Technology – Essentials of Social Media Usage’.

Jointly presented by two Catholics —Julius Leacock, IT Specialist/Catechist of Holy Trinity Parish Arouca, and Janine Roberts, Team-building Consultant—the three-hour Zoom seminar was attended by catechists from across the Archdiocese of Port of Spain and had two stated objectives: 1. To familiarise catechists with the key social media communication tools and 2. To demonstrate the usefulness of these tools for catechesis.

Key social media communication tools – the T&T experience

In fulfilling the first objective, the seminar illuminated not only the key social media tools used in Trinidad and Tobago but also the two main benefits to be derived from social media usage whether general and/or specific.

These rewards relate to being connected to others whenever and wherever one can and the unlimited resources available with each tool. Highlighting social media usage in T&T relative to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Messenger, Twitter, TikTok and WhatsApp, and pinpointing Instagram as being very popular among local teenagers, the presentation provided visuals of each tool and displayed supporting statistical data for T&T usage.

Usefulness of social media tools for catechesis

Referencing the latest General Directory on Catechesis (July 2020) which declares it “a pressing need for pastoral activity to adapt catechesis for young people, translating the message of Jesus into their language” (148),  the presentation specified throughout the usefulness and precautions necessary with the usage of each tool.

For example, management of social media accounts by controlling users who can post to group chats, and ensuring vigilance when setting up video conferences and limiting the actions of participants when using a particular tool with faith formation are some of the necessary security measures advised by presenters Leacock and Roberts for the conduct of catechesis through/with technology. Particular mention was made of Google (Forms, Classroom, Meet) as a one-stop shop for classes.

Catechist, do not fear social media

After responding to queries, concerns and comments about using social media as the way forward for continuing faith formation instruction particularly given the restrictions of the global pandemic, the presenters declared that social media is not to be feared but should be embraced because it brings us together and can help build the faith.

This is certainly in keeping with the Antilles Episcopal Conference in their A Pastoral Letter: New Ways of Being Church in a Digital Milieu (August 6, 2017): “The Church needs to re-imagine how to communicate faith and to be authentic in our communication. We need to live what we proclaim, conscious of the influence that the digital milieu is weaving into the tapestry of emerging generations” (#33, 13).