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KOTA KINABALU – Catholic Sabah observed its 3rd Catholic Sabah Day in conjunction with the 49th World Communications Day (WCD) May 16. An open forum was organized as a follow up to the Catholic Sabah Readership Survey two years ago. Parishes from the Archdiocese/dioceses were represented.
Before the forum Fr Thomas Madanan showed a short video clip prepared by the Social Communications Commission of Kuching of the Holy Father’s WCD message for 2015, themed “Communicating the Family: A Privileged Place of Encounter With the Gift of Love.
This was followed by a brief introduction to the history of Catholic Sabah by Fiona Siambun, of the editorial board. Neil Mah moderated the forum.
The participants formed smaller groups to discuss the questions with a secretary to record and put in common their thoughts. The forum sought information to, 1) The improvements to Catholic Sabah since the readership survey, 2) Suggestions to further improve the paper.
At Mayflower Restaurant, at the Thanksgiving Dinner later that evening, Msgr Primus Jouil, highlighted the aims of World Communications Day, reminding Catholics of their responsibilities in communications and media consumption, their obligation to contribute funds to the cause of social communications and to pray and support all those involved in the communications media, especially those in the Social Communications media of the Church.
The aims of WCD is translated and expressed locally through Catholic Sabah, which is one of the most established communication tools serving all three dioceses of the local Church.
On the sidelines, before the arrival of the guest of honour, Archbishop John Wong, I talked to some of the dinner guests to find out their thoughts on the forum.
Jimmy Kan of St Peter Claver, Ranau remarked that the forum was good from the standpoint of improving form and substance of Catholic Sabah. He opined that hot issues affecting the local church have not been adequately addressed and suggested that it would be better to address these issues in the proper manner than not at all.
Cesar Clemente applauded the additional colour pages but was also concerned that the paper has not voiced out regarding many important issues, as Catholics would like to know the mind of the church and her stand on certain issues and events affecting the local church and their beliefs.
Greg Matanjun wished that the forum had been longer and more people had attended, as the forum was a good platform to express viewpoints.
Msgr Primus Jouil thought that it was good for supporters of Catholic Sabah to come together once a year to review the paper and exchange ideas. He believes that marketing could be further improved in the parishes. At present Catholic Sabah is left to the parishes without a committee looking into its sales and readership.
“Perhaps Social Communications Committees can be set up in parishes to look into it and monitor the sale and progress of the paper in that parish,” he said hopefully.
Archbishop John Wong noted in his keynote speech, “You can image how competitive is the media market. Everybody wants to be the first to tell a story. Everybody wants to share something new, something latest. This is the challenge people in the media world are facing. How then would Catholic Sabah face such challenges?
The Archbishop believes that as long as we aim to communicate truth, communicate love, and communicate mercy and forgiveness…the Good News of Jesus Christ, to readers who are distracted by so many things in life will find Catholic Sabah appealing and relevant to their deeper yearning.
He suggested that it might be good for Catholic Sabah to highlight the “Family” in conjunction with the Holy Father’s 2015 message for WCD, which will also be the focus of the coming Synod. He said people are looking for answers…at least we should lead them to sources which could help them.
Neil Mah delivered the messages on behalf of the bishops of the Dioceses of Keningau and Sandakan. Bishop Cornelius Piong expressed appreciation for what Catholic Sabah is doing and hopes it would continue to be a relevant paper for Evangelization.
Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom of the Diocese of Sandakan acknowledged that Catholic Sabah is the only printed Catholic press in Sabah (serving the 3 Archdiocese/dioceses). It is the primary instrument of communication of the local Church to inspire, motivate and promote responsible readership. He hoped that the forum would further promote the printed press in fulfilling its mission and that all those involved would search for the best ways to fully utilize Catholic Sabah in the communication ministry.
Catherine Wan, Chinese subeditor of Catholic Sabah emceed the dinner event. – ASCC, Irene Obon