Social Communications Directors Meet in Abuja

By Mercy Hill

Catholic Social Communication Directors successfully concluded a workshop for Diocesan/Religious Directors of Communications organized by the Directorate of Social Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) from Monday, June 14 to Thursday, June 17, 2021.

The 3-day training workshop, which held at the Catholic Secretariat Resource Centre, Abuja, had as its theme: ”Empowering Diocesan/Religious Directors of Communications for an Integrated and Effective Catholic Media Apostolate in Nigeria”.

According to the National Director of Communications and Chief Planner, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Mike Nsikak Umoh, the training was aimed at ensuring that Diocesan/Religious Directors of Communications key into the new vision of the National Media Office, which is ‘to develop an Integrated, Effective and Efficient Communications Structure for the Catholic Church in Nigeria’, a vision he calls “IEES Project”.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria’s (CBCN’s) Chairman, Social Communications and the Auxiliary Bishop, Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha, Most Rev. Denis Chidi Isizoh, delivered a Keynote Address at the event, while the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, was a Special Guest at the opening ceremony.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, His Grace, Ignatius Kaigama, charged Social Communications Directors to practice unified journalism and not divisive, as many Journalists practiced today.

He noted that Journalists were image makers of the Church and society, and, as such, should genuinely use their capacities to give voice to the poor and marginalized.

The archbishop advised them to imbibe the Pope’s message on the 2021 World Communications Day, which teaches Media Practitioners to reach out.

‘Do not be armchair practitioners but imbibe the Pope’s message of reaching out. Defend the Church rightly, because you all are artilleries of the Catholic Church,’ he said.

In his keynote address, the CBCN Chairman for Social Communications, Most Rev Chidi Denis Isizoh, exhorted all Communications Directors to be passionate about their work.

‘We want Directors that are passionate about communications, communication gadgets and have passion for service,’ he echoed.

The cleric frowned at reporters who are influenced by bribes they took from their clients, admonishing that Catholic newspapers must not be found in this circle but that they should reflect Catholic teachings and practices.

In their goodwill messages, the Directors of Pastoral Affairs Church and Mission, Rev Fr Michael Banjo; CARITAS, Rev Fr Uche Obodoechina; Mission and Interreligious Dialogue, Rev Fr Joseph Nomwhange (SMA); Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), Rev Fr Solomon Patrick Zaku, emphasized the centrality of communication in the mission of the church, describing media practitioners as those who occupied the heart of mission and dialogue, and, as such, their works should reflect the truth.

In their separate speeches, they advised media practitioners not only to tell the truth, but tell it the right way.

Fides Media Director, Rev Fr Dr Martin Anusi, who was one of the resource persons, delivered a paper on the “Prospects of a Successful Catholic Media Office in Nigeria: Fides Media Experience in Awka”.

Fr Anusi, who gave a tripartite narrative of the Fides experience with him as the Director, said that Fides experience could be described in three phases: the challenges he met at the beginning, progress/growth made, and prospects.

He noted that the overriding imperative in these phases was the fact that Fides Media was committed to human capacity development, especially of young people.

He explained that Fides Media, just like any other media house, had enormous challenges but they were able to face them with a unified work force, enabling work environment and her investment in young people.

‘At Fides, there exists a symbiotic work relationship between staff members and management,’ he said.

In the paper, he explored various initiatives Fides had taken that made it what it had become today and encouraged the Directors never to be deterred by difficulties and challenges but to see them as opportunities that would enable  them to get the best of themselves and the people who worked with them.

‘Go for talent hunt,’ he exhorted his colleagues and advised them to move beyond what was often noticed in our society today, where, he noted, people were seen from the purview of where they came from rather than the skills they possessed. “Do not just let people work for you” he said, “but let them know that you work for their growth and development too”. His paper was followed by a standing ovation from the participants.

Five paper presentations took place at the 3-day event, which include: “Understanding the Mind of the Church on Media Communications”, delivered by the National Director, Padre Mike Umoh; while the President of Signis-Nigeria and Director of Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, shared his experience on the topic, “Challenges of running a Catholic Media Office in Nigeria: My Story”.

Other presentations included, “Practical Steps for setting up a Basic Audio and Video Recording/Editing Studio”, by the Assistant Director of Communications/Manager, Catholic Media Centre, Catholic Diocese of Uyo, Rev. Fr. Paulinus Andinyene Udofia; while the Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Awka and Director Fides Media, Rev. Fr. Dr. Martins Anusi, spoke on the topic: “Prospects of a Successful Catholic Media Office in Nigeria: Fides Media Experience in Awka”.

Mr. Godwin Onyekwere of MogRex Limited, Abuja, made a presentation on “Managing Diocesan Platform on the new CSN App”.

Highlight of the Meeting was the send-off of the former National Director of Social Communications, Rev Fr Dr Chris Anyanwu, who had served in that office for seven years.

Also was the oldest staff of CSN, Baba Jide Fadugba- Pinhero Otunba, who served the CSN for seventeen years.

The event closed with a Mass presided over by the National Director of the Social Communication Directorate, Rev Fr. Mike Umoh among other concelebrants.