Philippine online missionaries reach out to youth5:14 PM, May 14, 2019
Philippines:Youth Pinoy uses social media as a 'conduit to reintroduce Christ and create spiritual exchange online'.
Youth Pinoy online missionaries Michael Laxina (left) and Christine Paguirigan talk about the content they are about to publish on their social media platform. (Photo by Mark Saludes)
Lay Catholic missionaries in the Philippines are using the internet as a tool for what they fondly describe as "online evangelism."
The Youth Pinoy group uses social media as a "conduit to reintroduce Christ and create spiritual exchange online."
Michael Laxina described the group as a community of lay missionaries whose vocation is to use social media for "new evangelization."
They publish stories from members and other Catholic youth organizations on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.
"We do this to remind the youth that Christ is present even in social media," said Laxina.
The group’s Facebook account has more than 107,000 followers who get news and information about events, memes and statements from church leaders.
"We care about the youth who consume every content of our site," Laxina said, adding that they aim to contribute to the "formation of the young."
Unlike other missionaries who go to far-flung places to spread the Good News, Youth Pinoy members use their skills "to bear witness to their Catholic faith through creative means." They use their talent in writing, music, photography, film and art to reach out to the youth.
"It all began at the onset of social media in the Philippines," said Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, head of the media office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines and spiritual adviser to Youth Pinoy.
Msgr. Quitorio said he formed the group in 2009 when he was trying to understand online publishing. "I read an article that said if you want to address youth, then you must go to social media,'" he said.
After consulting members of the media office on how to engage youngsters in cyberspace, Msgr. Quitorio led the formation of a national youth organization that will perform apostolate online.
Youth Pinoy was launched at the University of Santo Tomas when members branded themselves "online missionaries of God."
Since then, the organization has become a community that "echoes the stance of the Catholic Church on religious and political issues."
Role of youth in evangelization
Father Roy Bellen, who serves as vice-president for operations at church-run Veritas 846 radio station, said young people have an important role to play in sharing church teachings.
"They are more skilled than more mature generations in the use of digital platforms," said the priest. "They know very well its dynamics, language and trends."
Being lay people, the young Catholics can package the message of the Gospel in a more relevant and catchy form, said Father Bellen.
Father Jeffrey Segovia of Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese said the Church's presence in cyberspace is "an important step to bring the youth from purely online to the physical church."
He said social media pages like Youth Pinoy's have the "power to persuade people" to not just rely on what they read online but attend Masses, youth events and church activities.
Father Segovia, however, said evangelization through social media is not an alternative to visiting communities and living with the people.
Msgr. Quitorio said church media groups need to appreciate diversity and "open ourselves to so many expressions" to reach out to more online users.
"As long as we do not go beyond our parameters in our doctrines and morals, we can dominate cyberspace ... that is new evangelization," said the priest.
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