SIGNIS India conducts workshop to train the PRO’s of the Dioceses and Religious congregations from all over India
SIGNIS India in collaboration with CCBI Media Apostolate organised a PR Training program from 25 – 27 October 2022. Over 60 participants representing various dioceses, religious congregations and members of SIGNIS India from all over the country participated in this three-day program held at Paalanaa Bhavana, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre, Bangalore. The participants at the three-day training included Catholic media professionals and communication heads from dioceses and religious congregations, vicar generals, priests, women religious and lay persons.
The program was inaugurated by Bengaluru Archbishop Most Rev. Dr. Peter Machado on and Rev. Dr. Stephen Alathara, the deputy Secretary General of CCBI on 25th October.
In his inaugural message, Archbishop of Bengaluru Dr Peter Machado stated that the role of the PROs (Public Relations Officer) is like a water pipe bringing information to people. The PRO ministry in the church should be honest, transparent and reachable. “The role of the PROs is very important for every institution, as in the public domain anything can happen hence, relations with entities, bodies and individuals are of the utmost importance,” he said.
Speaking to the participants, Father Stephen Alathara, Deputy General Secretary of CCBI, said, “To be a good relationship officer of the Church, we first need to have a good relationship with Jesus. And in this way the PR ministry of the Church is different and special”.
The training sessions included topics like present scenario of PR in the Church, what and why of a PR ministry, image building of the Church, crisis management, conducting a press conference, issuing a press release, legal perspective of crisis management, media watch, research and strategy for future PR ministry.
Intent to hone the public relationship skill of the participants, the resource team of the training included Rev. Dr Stanley Kozhichira, SIGNIS Asia President, Fr Babu Joseph SVD, former PRO to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Varghese Joseph, editor of Indian Catholic Matters, Bansi Kalapppa of Indian Express, Advocate Joseph Anil Kumar, Kantharaj, PRO of Bangalore Archdiocese, Rev. Dr Cyril Victor, Nolan Pinto and Dr. Juby Thomas, Kristhu Jayanthi College, Bangalore.
Participants appreciated the content of the training, which included mock press conference and highlights on useful social media plugins. “It is the first time I am attending such a training and it has opened my eyes to the important role of a PR office”, said Advocate Jyothi Mary, a Bethany Sister, working at the legal department of Bangalore Archdiocese. “The training was totally useful and it has made me realise the power of social media”, said Sister Jenova, media coordinator of Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph.
That the training has brought together many PR professionals of the Church from all over the country itself is a big success of the programme and listening to different challenges and crisis in Indian Church and how the PR team handled them has given us some fresh insights into how to face the challenges that lie ahead, said Father Joshan Rodrigues, manging editor the Examiner of Bombay Archdiocese.
PR training and workshop came to a close with valedictory function on 27th October 2022 Rev. Dr. Ambrose Pitchaimuthu. National Director PMO, India was the Chief guest. He honoured the participants with participation certificates.
Rev. Pitchaimuthu in his address also stressed the importance of silence by giving the example of how in USA, the seminaries observe a mobile free day, in order to Interiorize themselves in the priestly formation. The value of silence is also significant in order to interiorize, hence PR’s need to know when to speak and when not to. He also quoted Pope Francis in this regard saying It is not to listen with ears but with the heart. PR’s need to interiorize before going to any press conference.
“The Church Public Relations & Media Relations is not for our self-preservation, that is, no to preserve our own ideology, our own dioceses, religious congregations or institutions but to preserve and transform the public sphere”, said the Director of Pontifical Missions Organization (PMO).
At the concluding ceremony, two of the participants also expressed their overwhelming satisfaction for the program and wished that such programs are organized more often in order to help the Church Personnel to adopt new and emerging roles to communicate the Church to the external world.
The PR training was jointly organized by SIGNIS India & CCBI Media Apostolate. Fr. Victor Vijay Lobo, Secretary cum Treasurer, SIGNIS India & Fr. Cyril Victor Joseph, coordinator of CCBI Media Apostolate coordinated the program.
Fr Victor Vijay Lobo, Secretary ands Treasurer of SIGNIS India expressed his gratitude to Pontifical Society for the Propagation Faith (PSPF) for their generosity by granting financial support to conduct this PR training program.