ACJ EASTERN CHAPTER MEETS ECM COMMUNICATIONS BISHOP CHAIR
By: Francis Polinyu Banda
The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) chairperson responsible for communications Right Reverend Bishop Montfort Stima, has challenged catholic journalists in the country to consider their profession as a vocation, saying they have a huge responsibility of ensuring that the values of the Catholic Church in evangelization are shared with masses.
Bishop Stima, who is also head of the diocese of Mangochi and also vice pastoral chairperson of the ECM, said this recently in an interface meeting with the eastern region chapter of the Association of Catholic Journalists (ACJ) executive members at his residence, who arranged the meeting to introduce themselves and seek advice from the chair as they are preparing to host the ACJ national annual general meeting (AGM) scheduled between 29th and 31st May 2020 in the lakeshore district of Mangochi.
He said the Catholic Church in the country values the media in its evangelization endeavors and said she (the church) singles out the ‘catholic’ journalists among all journalists as a partner in this course.
“Journalism is a calling. As the Catholic Church we single out you catholic journalists as our partner in the work of evangelization. Let me challenge you that this is a vocation that is there not simply to communicate but communicating to exalt God,” he said.
He said any profession should be considered as a vocation saying for example a mechanic who fixes the bishop’s vehicle should consider oneself as part of the evangelizer as the bishop cannot reach out to as many Faithfuls as possible if his car is not in good condition.
Bishop Stima said nowadays communication is at the highest peak with the coming of different media channels such that journalism has become a profession which is subject to all forms of abuse.
He said this challenge can only be dealt with by media professionals who are guided by the Holy Spirit. The Bishop chair singled out Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and many more other forms of modern communication channels as some that are subjected to such abuse.
“As technology continues advancing, there are all sorts of abuses to the media channels that are rapidly changing. Realizing this, the Synod of the catholic bishops met twenty five years ago to tackle social media as the upcoming challenge in communication and it is important that these channels should be used for evangelization,” challenged Bishop Stima.
He said after realizing the underlying importance of communication, the catholic church organizes communication Sundays every year to share experiences and showcase how different media entities under her bosom harness different media channels and the function is flanked by a special message released by the Holy Father to bless the day all over the world.
The Bishop continued by expressing his gratitude for the birth of ACJ in 2005 in the country whose members are catholic journalists working in both catholic and secular media houses, saying it is important that it, ACJ, should make itself visible and felt by using communication Sundays that the church set aside every year.
In Malawi the Catholic Church owns Radio Maria, Luntha Television in the diocese of Mangochi, Radio Alinafe in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Radio Tigawane in Mzuzu diocese and Tumtufye Radio in Karonga diocese.
Commenting on the forthcoming annual general meeting of the ACJ Bishop Stima encouraged members to work hard in resource mobilization as this is coming at a time when a number of entities who may support them are reeling in financial difficulties. He said this requires a concerted effort as time is not on their side to the dates of the AGM.
He finally urged the chapter to explore chances of raising funds by coordinating with the national executive committee to see if they can work together in organizing fundraisers in different places, moving away from limiting themselves from doing so within their eastern region base alone.