Catholic church brings down social media to grassroots level

By Daniel Makamba

MVURWI-The Catholic community has hailed the advent of internet with social media as a form of news transmission that is currently assisting in spreading the church’s news updates as well as keeping in touch with former parish members who are now abroad but curious to know of ongoing events in their former churches.

Social Communications (Soccom) is an initiative by the Archdiocese of Harare with bid to spread catholic teachings, news and current affairs for the archdiocese to all its catholic members.

Radio VOP had a chance to speak to Soccom team member Mr Gift Gumbato of Mvurwi Parish who has so far embraced the glory of the project.

To Mr Gumbato, the use of social media platforms like Facebook Pages, WhatsApp and YouTube provide a bridge to narrow the gap of distance especially by bringing together those abroad with a nostalgia for what is happening home.

“We have a majority of Catholics who are now in places like SA, UK and other countries even some who have migrated to other places in Zimbabwe because of work. These same individuals are keen to know of the developments shaping our parish.

“Therefore though in Social Communications we have been trained to professionally use new media platforms with Facebook being the most effective in connecting with a large community,” said Mr Gumbato.

According to Mr Gumbato before the advent of this project it was difficult to spread the church’s teachings and new revelations that will be globally shaping the catholic different guilds.

“Soccom has provided a platform for sharing the church’s teachings, these include at Parish, Archdioceses and even regional level. As you know that our church moves in uniformity with the instructions from our Papal office.

“It was always difficult for our parishes in marginalized areas like outskirts of Mvurwi to access these updates and teachings since the majority of us had limited access to channels of the church’s communication”, said Gumbato.

The team has also introduced a weekly publication called the E-Well which carries news and current affairs updates that will be shaping the archdiocese on day to day church business. Those who cannot access the publication in the form of a hard copy are lucky that it is distributed in portable document format (pdf) on WhatsApp groups.

“E-Well is a weekly publication by the Soccom team that is distributed in hard copy form built however for us here we have seen that by utilizing WhatsApp platforms we can distribute the newsletter in pdf format so that everyone access the newsletter,” added Mr Gumbato.

Catholic Mr Jonathan Muchabaiwa commended efforts by the Archdiocese in spreading the news to grassroots areas, “what marginalizes people is lack of access to information and current affairs but now everyone is included through Soccom news,”

However, the abuse of social media has greatly limited the credibility and relevance of news fulfilling the claim by Marshal McLuhan that, “the medium is the message” entailing the significance attached to the message depending on the used medium of communication.

“We can see the benefits being brought by social media but at the same time we ceaselessly call for users not to abuse these platforms but rather practice ethical forms of citizen journalism, at least we are now all empowered to be journalist through these platforms,” said catholic youth Hope Mhomberwa.