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By Fr. Ambrose Pereira SDB

Online meeting EAO, 6 August 2020 -- The Social Communications members of the EAO Region had their first online meeting with the new Councillor for Social Communications Fr Gildásio Mendes, the new Regional, Fr. Joseph Phuoc and the Social Communication Delegates of the provinces of the EAO Region.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, video conferencing is the only contact with the outside world. Every member appreciated the use of digital technology to bring about networking and connection with confreres, communities and provinces. Sharing their many activities and achievements of the past few months of lockdown and isolation, the members spoke of opportunities that have offered confreres possibilities to network and connect with the young. They also shared their struggles, fears, hopes and dreams in the hope of receiving insight to tide over this period of stress and isolation.

The members connected with each other on the Social Media Platform, Google Meet. After the initial struggle of getting connected via Google and Fr Gildásio connected via WhatsApp, the interaction and sharing elevated spirits and inspired the members for an hour and a half of the online meeting. It was a meeting to get to know each other and look at opportunities ahead.

The meeting commenced with a prayer led by Fr Donnie Duchin Duya. The Regional Councillor Fr Joseph Phuoc then addressed the members. He spoke of his experience of technology and communications that keep us connected. “The Social Communication sector is vital for the Region. Through it we work in synergy with the different commissions – Formation, Youth Ministry, Salesian Family and Mission”, he said.

Councillor for Social Communications Fr Gildásio Mendes appreciated the members and the work they do. He invited the members to a constant witness of life and hope. He reminded them of the great testimony of religious life amidst the different cultures, religions and political situations the region is engaged in. He stressed the need for unity and working together.

Fr Peter Chinh, coordinator for Social Communications in the EAO region then invited the members to introduce themselves and share about the work they are doing. Each shared about their work in the provinces and how they network with the confreres in their provinces.

Australia: Fr. Michael Court and Michael Gartland. Fr Michael, presently parish priest leads a team to assist the province in Social Communications. Michael Gartland spoke of the quarterly Salesian Bulletin that carries stories from across the world. Live streaming of masses, production of videos and advertising work are some of the many activities.

Cambodia: Fr Albeiro Rodas is in charge of the Don Bosco Technical School in the Kep Province, Cambodia. He runs the Social Communications and Journalism Department since 2007. He is the delegate for Social Communications for Cambodia. The team of eight teachers produce videos, update websites and social media networks. They are in the process of editing the first Salesian Bulletin in Khmer.

China: Fr Pedro Leong and Cl. Leo Leong. Fr Pedro shared his sadness at the social unrest in Hong Kong that is fast losing its rule of law. He is in charge of the Don Bosco press that produces the Salesian Bulletin and many other teaching materials. The team does translation work for youth ministry and communications. Cl. Leo spoke of maintaining websites, production of videos, assisting the different commissions with social media. Online Eucharistic celebrations and the daily Eucharistic adoration of 100 persons are a feature during this period of COVID-19.

East Timor: Fr. Jose de Sa was present but had difficulties to stay online.

Indonesia: Fr. Peter Tukan is involved in the translations of the Constitutions. He is using this time of the pandemic to work on videos and Instagram.

Korea: Fr Samuel Yu – shared a beautiful presentation of the work of Communications in Korea. He has been the Salesian Communications delegate since 2018. The Social Communications department has two divisions. The DBM produces the Salesian Bulletin while the DBIC produces videos and online digital content. They look forward to the 23rd Film Festival. Fr Gildásio spoke of his joy and the happiness of Don Bosco at participation and collaboration as we share the Good work that is being done. At this time, of COVID-19, when meetings are cancelled, he expressed his satisfaction to be connected online and be able to have this first contact with the Delegates of the Region. He invited comments on the first draft of the document. He requested that all be part of the WhatsApp group to share what they produce.

He also announced that its very likely that the Social Communication Delegates Meeting of the Region may be held through video conference due to the Covid 19 crisis. However, he will confirm this decision by middle of August, after his consultation with the provincials and the delegates of the Region.

In his concluding words he reminded all the delegates to keep:

a. The Gospel message of Christ Alive

b. The pastoral approach of Don Bosco for young people

c. The concern of our Holy Father, Pope Francis

d. The message of the Rector Major to work in unity

e. The new guidelines of the CG28 and

f. The protection of Our Blessed Mother.

Words of thanks were expressed by Fr Joseph Phuoc and Fr Peter Chinh. All look forward to the online meeting in November.





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