The mission of Pandacan’s SOCOM in rebuilding Sto. Niño’s church

In his message for the 53rd World Communications Day in 2019, the Holy Father, Pope Francis reminded social communicators around the world that the Church is a network “woven together by Eucharistic communion, where unity is based not on “likes”, but on the truth, on the “Amen”, by which each one clings to the Body of Christ and welcomes others”.

It must be clear to every modern-day evangelizer – or “SOCOM” as we fondly call them in our parishes – that spreading the Gospel and the story of our salvation must be attractive not just to everyone’s eyes and ears but also to their hearts and minds. And in times of struggles from a tragedy, it is indeed their duty to utilize the media in sending a message of hope that would encourage every faithful to help His Church rise from the ruins until it stands once more in glory.

This is the current mission of the Socom Ministry of the 310-year-old Parish of Pandacan, a community of God dedicated under the patronage of the miraculous image of the Holy Child Jesus or the Santo Niño.

In an effort to discover the capabilities of a social communications ministry in rebuilding a church, the Santo Niño de Pandacan Parish (SNDPP) conducted its first Pandacan Socom Workshop at St. Joseph School of Pandacan last July 15 and attended by 24 participants consisting of current and aspiring SOCOM ministry members.

The theme of the workshop – “From a Like to an Amen” – can be considered a response of the parish’s ministry in transforming the power of traditional and social media into effective instruments of the Catholic Church’s mission of new evangelization. This has been the foundation of the whole workshop which was formulated to help participants figure their collective understanding of social communications and to familiarize themselves in content planning and strategy.

The workshop was facilitated by SNDPP parish secretary Lem Leal Santiago whose communications strategy experience expands to 12 years before serving as social communications and special projects coordinator for the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo in the middle of coronavirus pandemic.

The event started with a short reflection from Rev. Fr. Aldwin Ivan Gerolao, director of the Senior High School Department of Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminar. Fr. Aldwin is no stranger to the parish’s Socom as he helped reestablish the ministry as a deacon in 2021, almost a year after the devastating fire destroyed the church and convent on July 10, 2020.

Part of the workshop were short lectures from speakers who are actively serving in different fields of social communications. Freelance photographer Benedict Canapi, who used to cover major events in the Archdiocese of Manila and also a member of the Socom ministry in Quiapo Church, discussed the basic rules and tips in church photography. Also invited was the content manager of the Catholic news website Dominus Est, Clyde Ericson Nolasco who provided templates and advices in managing and curating content for parish’s social media platforms.

The participants were also allowed to visit the TV Maria headquarters inside the neighboring Caritas Manila Compound to experience first-hand the operations of the Philippines’ most successful Catholic television station.TV Maria’s technical head Robert Bahia welcomed them and discussed the art of broadcasting Holy Masses and other important church events. The participants were given rare access to the station’s studio and technical rooms where shows are shot, produced and transmitted to their cable and digital television channels and online platforms.

These discussions and experiences helped the participants in their workshop activity where their outputs can be used in covering the parish’s future events. These learnings can be developed as they reorganize the ministry to suit the mission that was given by Pandacan’s parish priest, Rev. Fr. Andy Ortega Lim: to use Socom as an effective tool in helping the construction efforts for Sto. Niño de Pandacan’s new home.

Now headed by their new coordinator, Bro. Patrick Laurence Aragon, the faithful community of Pandacan is one in prayer that they may fulfill their mission to be of help in the rebuilding of their church and to spread their blessed old town’s devotion to the Sto. Niño de Pandacan to around the world.

Viva, Sto. Niño! (By SNDPP Parish Office)


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