Making Space for God in a Communication World

Priest-Blogger Tells His Experience of Evangelization

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LIMA, Peru, MARCH 5, 2010 ( Father Manuel Tamayo admits that being on Facebook means he sometimes has to endure «rather irreverent jokes.» But he says the most gratifying part of evangelizing through the media is hearing someone say they’ve converted or found clarity reading his words.

The Peruvian priest said this in an interview in which he reflected on Benedict XVI’s message for this year’s World Day of Social Communications, which focuses on priests’ use of the media.

Father Tamayo says he remembers being a student when he heard that St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, encouraged youth to study journalism.

«He encouraged young people to follow this career, because he wanted young people with a Christian concept of life to […] be able to spread Christian doctrine through every means,» Father Tamayo recalled. «The Church cannot stay behind and must use these means to reach the people. Hence the Holy Father’s concern in encouraging priests.»

Pagan and materialistic

The Peruvian priest’s own interest in journalism began with the gift of a camera while he was still in primary school. Years later, he’d be covering Pope John Paul II’s visit to Peru.

There’s no lack of motivation to bring the Gospel to the communications world, he suggested.

«As a priest I was concerned about the lack of Christian formation that exists in the majority of social networks and how society is increasingly pagan and materialistic,» Father Tamayo explained. «A few days ago I saw some statistics that stated that an adolescent speaks to his father on average once a month, whereas he spends three to four hours a day in front of his computer. In the last few years, in this 21st century, I have seen a decadence in the programs and values and I see the need for an urgent recovery.»

The priest has kept up a blog for three years and now uses Facebook as well.

«I am concerned to see what youth put on the walls and what they talk about,» he explained. «One notices a certain poverty of arguments and an almost global lack of interest in transcendent topics. However, by being there, among them, I have the opportunity to be heard and read, although at times I have been labeled and have had to endure rather irreverent jokes.»

On guard

Evangelizing through the media does have its dangers, Father Tamayo acknowledged.

«One must be careful not to waste time in front of the computer,» he said, explaining how he still uses a notebook to collect his ideas. «On Fridays I sit in front of the computer and in half an hour I write two pages that I post on the blog in one minute. During the day I always have a briefcase with a book and a notebook and thus, when I can, I read and write, without interrupting my priestly activities.»

But the future, Father Tamayo says, is in the communications world.

«Here is where the Church and priests have a place,» he affirmed. «They must make a space for themselves in the world of communications with the healthy and clean merchandise that is Christian doctrine.

«The advice I would give bishops and priests is that they not lose the opportunity to catechize through these means. I would also tell them to unite to work together and to prepare good professionals, journalists and communicators of quality to produce high level programs.»

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