“Africa, Rise Up!” - Preaching and Social Media

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Twenty Dominican Sisters in Africa have risen-up and gathered at Koinonia Center in Johannesburg, South Africa!  In keeping with the emphasis on evangelization by the 2009 African Synod and in the subsequent message of Benedict XVI, Africae Munus (2011), these Sisters from 19 Dominican congregations in 13 countries are participating in the workshop, “Communication and Evangelization: DSI – 2.0 Connecting Dominican Sisters in Africa”, 1-14July 2013.  Half of the participants come from Francophone countries and half come from Anglophone countries of Africa.

Dominican Sisters International is sponsoring the workshop that has these objectives:

  • To provide Sisters with a good knowledge of basic tools of Communication and Social Media;
  • To make them aware of the specifics of Web 2.0 and its potential for their mission in Africa;
  • To teach them how to use social media for development and to increase social awareness in their congregation and among the people in their communities;
  • To use ICT for their formation;
  • To strengthen the networking and collaboration among Sisters in Africa.

During this first week of the program, Sisters are studying principles for effective communication through social media such as websites and “Facebook”.  Such media are key means for preaching the Good News in our contemporary culture.  Participants have had creative opportunities to apply their learnings.  Sisters interviewed various individuals and visited area service organizations, including “Bienvenue Shelter” (refugee women and their children), “Mercy House” (homeless working people) and “Nazareth House” (orphaned, hospice and elderly residents). Based on this experience, Sisters working in teams of two wrote articles that would be suitable for website publication.  After the teams shared their articles in a plenary session, the presenters and other participants offered both affirmation and critique.  The process was a helpful learning exercise for all.

Later in the week, Sisters will have other opportunities to practice developing content for social media.  The weekend will bring an excursion to Soweto, the largest Township in South Africa and a key site for the anti-Apartheid struggle.  The second week will involve additional practical work with a variety of social media, as well as “low-tech” approaches to effective communication within and among congregations.  Koinonia Center, an apostolate of the Oakford Dominican Sisters, has provided excellent hospitality and extraordinary support both before and during the workshop.

DSI is grateful for the collaboration of the Order’s General Promoter for Social Communications, Eric Salobir OP (France) and his colleague, Fr. Gilles Lherbier (Diocese of Military Services, France), who are providing the design, content and process for the workshop. Thanks are due Patrizia Morgante, Elizabeth Perugachi and Flavia Angi, former and current members of the DSI Secretariat, whose hard work made this program happen.

This workshop was made possible through financial backing by a foundation that has consistently assisted DSI over the years and which chooses to remain anonymous.  Watch for the next update on this effort to help equip Dominican Sisters of Africa with additional tools to preach the Good News using the expanding “language” of our culture’s social media.

Toni Harris OP
DSI Staff Person On-Site in Johannesburg
Fr. Gilles assists Sr. Phindile (So.Africa-Newcastle) and Sr. Genie (Tanzania-Maryknoll)
 
(5 July 2013)