KUALA LUMPUR: One of the fruits of the three-day Annual Meeting of the Regional Commission for Social Communications (RCSC) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, that concluded here on 23 June 2016 has come in the form of a five-point plan of action for the coming year.
The 11 representatives of social communications (SOCCOM) organisations from the Archdioceses of Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, the Vicariate of Brunei, and Dioceses of Penang, Malacca-Johor, Miri and Sandakan recommended for the implementation of the plans stated below:
- Media Literacy Education (MLE) for parents, catechists, youth and seminarians;
- Programmes to restore Christian values in families which are affected by worldly influences;
- To share resources among dioceses on digital materials, publications, video productions and positive stories;
- Upgrading contents of diocesan websites such as the inclusion of stories for children, church teachings and traditions.
- To have solid programmes aimed at strengthening marriages and the family institution, and firmly inculcating Christian values in young children.
These plans were conceived by RCSC delegates after studying the many issues of grave concern related to Christian family life in the region. They had earlier received valuable inputs from a number of invited speakers.
Fr Raymond Michael, a Capuchin priest, an experienced counsellor and adviser for intellectually-challenged children and their families, was among the speakers. His focus was on matters related to families arising from the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2015.
He said that the family, being the “domestic church,” is in reality weakening and that there are signs of its “fragile nature,” adding that the culture of individualism has crept so much into our life.
Commenting on the present situation in the global scene, Fr Michael said the emergence of religious fanatics and fundamentalists bring instability and chaos, ending in misery and violence.
Another speaker, Raymund NC Jagan, a former civil servant with long experience in counselling and guidance for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, gave his views on the current situation of families in Malaysia.
He highlighted, among other matters, the dangers of computer games that have given rise to serious addictions and harm to children and the youth. At the same time, he recognised the need to maintain strong bonds within the family institution despite the many challenges.
There was also a panel discussion at which speakers gave their life experiences in bringing up their children in the light of widespread use of communication media.
The panel speakers were: a couple, Andrew and Andrene Teoh, who have four children; a young mother Fiona Biggs with a 9-year old daughter; and Frank Saing, present Secretary of RCSC, an Iban from Miri, Sarawak, with four children.
They shared their experience on how they managed to inculcate Christian values in their families in the face of the strong influence of media. One of the panelists said his approach in dealing with his children was not to impose but to inspire.
RCSC representatives, at a workshop session that followed, then reflected on how they, as Catholic communicators, could formulate plans and programmes that would address these pressing current needs of families.
Bishop Cornelius Sim from the Vicariate of Brunei, who is the President of the Regional Commission for Social Communications (RCSC) of the Conference, described the RCSC action plan for the coming years as “modest proposals.”
However, he told this writer at the close of the conference that he was happy to see that media practitioners in the region have come to a better understanding of the subject matters relating to how the media are influencing the family at this age and time.
“They, at the same time, have been able to come up with several modest proposals that they hope would increase awareness of the social media’s influence on the family,” he said.
“May our encounter and joint efforts these few days bear good fruit in the time to come,” he added. – Joseph Leong