Social Communication began in 1973 as an independent office under the name “Catholic Center of Information” with the purpose of formation and information in the religious field. In 1974, a year later, the Catholic Center of Information was integrated into the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat.
Since 1973, Social Communication has fostered the circulation of information among the lay faithful, congregations and the Church people. The Church wanted her members and institutions know and communicate each other’s activities in order to participate in common vision and mission. Therefore, Social Communication was looked upon as possible response to collaboration and mutual support.
Today Social Communication supports the spreading of “Gospel Values”. It works with men and women to come together to a great table to participate in a countrywide and world wide exchange of brotherhood, for a mutual and sympathetic understanding, dialogue and co-operation. Social Communication sees itself in the mission of helping the Church in Ethiopia grasp the meaning, and appreciate the importance and validity of the media and the urgency of using them to speak on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged; and to proclaim the divine message without fear or compromise.
MAJOR ACTIVITES ACCOMPLISHED
1. Publication of FIKIRNA SELAM NEWSPAPER
2. ETHIOPIAN CATHOIC SECRETARIAT’S NEWSLETTER
3. ESTABLISHING COMMUNICATION DESKS AT THE DIOCESES
4. PARTNERSHIPS NETWORK AND REPRESENTATIONS
5. PUBLICATION OF CATHOLIC DIRECTORY
6. SERVICES OF VIDEO-LENDING LIBRARY
7. SETTING REFERENCE LIBRARY
8. PUBLIC RELATIONS
STRATEGY OF IMPLEMENTATION
Social Communication proceeds with strengthening the mission of defining the concept of Christian Communication. One of the strategies of implementation is its existing printed media, FIKIRNA SELAM/LINK NEWSPAPER which is bilingual, Amharic and English, and Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat’s Newsletter. Through these, Social Communication assists the faithful to grasp the meaning, validity and appreciation of the Church’s efforts.
Through the same channel, Social Communication enables the Catholic Community members to develop a communication strategy capable of stimulating a wave of Christian thinking that can reach the people of God.
The methods of communication are meant to direct social life of people towards a common pool of ideas and understanding for a constructive interaction. The strategy of the printed media is to carry a spiritual dimension of faith in various columns of the papers.
Therefore, Christian Communication is not something accidental or supplementary, but it is one way of bringing about human development. Along this conceptual framework, the Social Communication builds strategy with clear goal to support the mission of the Church. It has strengthened the network of working with units and section of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (ECS) and Diocesans Catholic Secretariats (DCSs) in order to accomplish more concepts of human dignity and values of life. It strongly functions towards the improvement of social, economic and spiritual life of the faithful through the printed media, video lending library and various constructive interventions.
Social Communication has developed the initiative of collaborative work with DCSs through field visits, experience sharing workshops, trainings, need assessments forums, technical supports and writing communications to make the strategy effective.
MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS AND IMPACTS
· PRINTED MEDIA: FIKIRNA SELAM NEWSPAPER… Social Communication has been successfully publishing 3000 copies of bilingual (Amharic & English) monthly newspaper and distributed to all parishes, diocese and interested subscribers. One of the impacts FIKIRNA SELAM NEWSPAPER has brought is building up broader and strengthened comprehension of the Church’s mission among the faithful. It also inspired the Christian Communication which prevails in the Biblical revelation that God is the God who communicates with men and women of all times with the aim to establish true relationships with them. In short, the paper has developed the great impacts of communications with God and with each other aimed at building human growth, equality and freedom.
· ECS’ NEWSLETTER: This is the quarterly publication of ECS’ activities. The Newsletter has kept people on post as to the ongoing activities (pastoral and Social) of the different units, sections and co-ordinations of ECS.
· DCS’ Communication Desks: In collaboration with dioceses, Social Communication has established Communication desks in almost all dioceses. Its impact is to bring about effective communication in development works and Evangelization. It has enabled the Catholic Communities to develop communications strategy of fresh Christian comprehension at grass roots levels. Social Communication has enabled them to coordinate and develop Church’s communications in specific reality and situation of the Church and the country.
· PARTNERSHIP NETWORK & REPRESENTATIONS: Social Communication has participated in various workshops at national and international levels. It has represented the communications of the Church activities at both forums, i.e. to enhance knowledge on Catholic Social Communication.
· CATHOLIC DIRECTORY: The directory is produced and up-dated every two years. It contains addresses of communication lines for all institutes of the Church. The pieces of information it provides ease the fast references and communications with all concerned.
· VIDEO LENDING: Social Communication runs a mini video-lending library. It lends movies to the people of the Church on the main areas of education, entertainment and the Bible. It really creates good images to the faithful in terms of various works of the Church in assisting the needy (HIV/AIDS teaching and supplementary materials for creating awareness).
· REFERENCE LIBRARY: Social Communication has taken the initiative of setting up a small reference library. It goes at snails pace, but it is promising. Good number of books has been contributed and will be so in the future.
· PUBLIC RELATIOINS: Social Communication has been shouldering these responsibilities in particular at various Government’s workshops and gatherings. It has facilitated press conferences particularly during major Church and public holidays at the Archbishop’s.
FUTURE STRATEGIES & FORESEEN PLAN
· Communication with DCS: The majority of the diocesan Catholic Secretariats have communication desks. However, regular communication for better function is essential. So it is the strategy of Social Communication to keep up the fraternal communication with the desks.
· Visits: Regular field visits to the diocesan offices is the ongoing and future duties of social communication in order to strengthen work relationship.
· Bondage: Developing strategic bondage of experience sharing with the National Office, DCSs and networking also between the secretariats, eparchy and apostolic prefecture is inevitable.
· Reports: In order to follow up and be on top of situations, timely report is one of the future strategies. Social Communication sees to it that this is implemented. Therefore, all the dioceses will be fully encouraged to shoulder the responsibilities of submitting activity reports and possible areas of need support.
· Manuals: SC plans to develop manuals on reporting, editing and publications of magazines, leaflets and brochures to share among dioceses.
· Library: The library hardly suffices the needs of the National Office. It should be well-equipped with reference books. The plan is to keep on asking various organizations for donation of books as well as financial resources.
· Need Assessments: SC believes in giving the dioceses professional ears and hands to empower them. To facilitate this, it plans to conduct training and workshops for the communication desks.
· Forum: There is Government’s Communication Agency. All things being equal, ECS’ communication would plan to establish cozy experience sharing with that of the Government. Initiating discussions will ease and forward suggestions and recommendations.
Catholic Radio Station: Radio is good for reaching people quickly. It provides constant presence, background information, carries campaigns very easily, and motivates the audiences with personal voice. The Government’s policy does not permit to have one. However, the Forum mentioned above can create a sound corridor for the future formation of the Catholic Radio Station in Ethiopia. It can really pave the way provided gentlemen agreement is forwarded. A little diplomatic approaches and exercises are required.