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Social Communication As SVD Apostolate In The Philippines

Social Communication As SVD Apostolate In The Philippines

Franz-Josef Eilers, SVD*

It was as an editor that Arnold Janssen became the founder of the Divine Word Missionaries congregation (SVD). As the director of the apostolate of prayer in his home diocese in Muenster, Germany he learned more and more about the mission work of the Church worldwide and decided to found a monthly mission magazine, the "Little Herald of the Sacred Heart," which started in 1874.

One morning of that year, he read in the newspaper that the bishop of Hong Kong, Msgr. Raimondi, would visit Fr van Essen, a parish priest in a place nearby. During the interview with Bishop Raimondi, Janssen mentioned the need for a mission house in German speaking countries. He had advertised this need in his periodical but never thought of doing it himself. Bishop Raimondi tried to convince the young priest to do it himself and in fact even visited him in the latter's own place in Kempen, Germany.

It was only this way that Janssen finally took the initiative himself to buy an empty pub on the banks of the Mass River in Steyl just across the German border to open a mission house. This became the cradle of the SVDs. Right in the first year, he also ordered his own printing machines for his mission magazine and other publications he wanted to publish.

Thus right from the beginning, communication was one of the essential activities and parts of the Divine Word Missionaries. Wherever they went all over the world, in the years to come, the apostolate of the press and other means of communication became their trademark.

In the Philippines, it was only in 1924 that the first SVD-owned printing press started. This was conceived to be part of a technical school, the "Catholic Trade School," in Manila. In the further development, the school did not really get off the ground. The printing at Tayuman and Oroquieta streets, however, flourished.

Today, the SVD communications apostolate is not anymore technically oriented like printing. Publishing has taken over and is not related anymore to the society's own printing activities. Some SVDs are writing regularly in newspapers like the "Manila Bulletin", "Philippine Daily Inquirer", and others. Some SVDs are contributing in broadcasting and even television programs. Several radio stations in the Visayas are founded and operated by the SVDs like in Cebu, Tacloban, and Ormoc, whereas the radio station in Bangued (Abra) was pioneered by the SVD but it is under the ownership of the diocese. The same holds for the radio station in the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. The SVD-initiated "Mission Communications Foundation, Inc." provides, beside others, regular transmissions of the Sunday Mass on two television channels in Metro Manila.

The Hindi program of Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), the short-wave radio station of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), was an SVD initiative right from its beginnings. There is also a strong SVD cooperation in the daily Mandarin program beamed to mainland China. Since 2000, the general managers of this radio station - broadcasting in 15 different languages to all parts of Asia and beyond - have been two Divine Word Missionaries trained in this field.
Franz-Josef Eilers. Arnold Janssen alsPublizist: EinBeitragzur Geschichte de DeutschprachigenMissionspublizistik In "CommunicatioSocialis, ZeitschriftfuerPublizistik in Kirche und Welt" vol. 1975, Paderbom (1975), pp. 301-323. Parts of the regular newspaper columns of Fr. Gerry Orbos, svd (Philippine Daily Inquirer) and Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD (Manila Bulletin) are also published as books by Divine Word "Logos" Publishing House. Orbos' "Moments" series is currently on its 8th volume, while San Luis' "Stories of Life and Laughter" series is on its 3rd volume.

Social communication is also part of the formation program of the Society. After sporadic courses and presentations in the formation houses, Christ the King Mission Seminary (CKMS) in Manila and Divine Word Seminary (DWS) in Tagaytay, a regular one semester course titled "Introduction to Social Communication" began in 1985 for all students entering the first semester of Theology is offered since more than 20 years at DWS. This is an obligatory course, for every student entering the theology program, and is maintained till today. Further special courses are offered in addition, like "Intercultural Communication," "Evangelizing Communication," "Pastoral Communication" and others, which are available as Electives.
Out of these courses grew a textbook titled "Communicating in Community," which is also published in India, translated into Bahasa Indonesia and Italian. Later books complemented this teaching and studying material like the collection of all basic Church documents on social communication. This further includes a book on "Communicating in Ministry and Mission," which since 2001 is the basis of an SVD-designed MA Theology program on "Pastoral Communication" in the Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. The program has already several graduates and currently has students from at least seven different Asian countries. It is also linked to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Faculty of the same university for Licentiate and doctoral studies.

Over the years, several students who showed special talents and interest are now in responsible positions in communications like editors of diocesan papers, directors of broadcasting programs or even stations like in the case of some diocesan initiatives, and Radio Veritas Asia. They also work as missionaries specializing in communication formation activities and programs (e.g. in Latin America and Africa).

The Office of Social Communication of the FABC is for more than a decade in the responsibility of a Divine Word Missionary. The office has a Communications Research Library containing some 4,000 volumes on social and human communication with special emphasis on Church, intercultural and development communication.

A House of Studies called "Verbum" for communication students was erected in 1991 within the campus of the University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB). The SVD Generalate in Rome helped to finance this project. The house was built to accommodate both SVD and non-SVD students (foreign and local) of the UPLB-College of Development Communications (CDC)

A growing presence in cyberspace through the Internet by the different SVD schools in the Philippines and the provinces beside personal blogs is another indication of the social communication activities in the Philippines in the spirit of the SVD Founder, St Arnold Janssen. (END)

Franz-Josef Eilers. "SVD and Social Communication". In "Communicating in Community, An Introduction to Social Communication, Third and Enlarged Edition", Manila: Logos (2002), pp. 294-299. Students in various stages of formation maintain their own publications e.g. "Diwa", the theological journal run by DWS scholastics. Franz-Josef Eilers. "Communicating in Community, An Introduction to Social Communication, Third and Enlarged Edition". Manila: Logos (2002). Franz-Josef Eilers. "Church & Social Communication, Basic Documents, 2nd Ed." Manila: Logos (1997). And, "Church and Social Communication, Basic Documents, Supplement I". Manila: Logos (2002). Franz-Josef Eilers. "Communicating in Ministry and Mission, 2nd Edition". Manila: Logos (2004). An example is the website of the Central Province www.svdphc.org SVD institutions like schools have their own website, even individual SVD's maintain their own blog.

  • Our Mission

    The SVD PHC Archives wants people to know about the Society of the Divine Word and its humble contribution to evangelization in the Philippines through its multitude of missionary involvement for human promotion and community development, professional, social, and spiritual advancement of the people through its missionary work and its educational institutions. To this end we make available the primary and other important sources of information contained in the SVD PHC Archives for study and research to anyone interested. We aim eventually too make these materials readily accessible through online Access to Archival Database by organizing our archival materials in the best form possible through the use of modem technology.

  • Our History

    When the archival materials were still limited and manageable, they were normally kept directly under the management and supervision of the SVD PHC Provincialate. But when these became voluminous, the need for better attention and organization became imperative. Since the inception of the SVD PHC Archives the following SVDs had been assigned to do the job as Archivists: Fr. George Koschinski (a German missionary), Fr. HermogenesBacareza, Fr. Gil Alejandria, and the incumbent, Fr. Erasio Flores. Fr. Koschinski focused his attention on the German correspondence and on the collection of photographs. Fr. Bacareza worked on the organization of the published materials. Fr. Alejandria did a lot in the line of digitalizing the materials and scanning the photographs. Fr. Flores did the translation of some 300 German letters into English and the abstraction of some 150 German and Spanish correspondences. The latter has had the benefit of having a capable team of assistants in Bro. Peter Villena, an expert computer programmer; and Mr.JairusGianan, a lay employee, also a computer expert. Under the current SVD Provincial Administration of Fr. NieloCantilado, SVD the archives gradually saw the introduction of latest technology and facilities in archival work. Its capability building initiatives also benefited greatly from the technical assistance of experts from the Philippine Association of Museum, Incorporated (PAMI), especially in the day-to-day process of preserving, organizing and preparing these precious materials, so as to make them eventually available and accessible digitally to interested researchers.

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