The Communication challenge

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Among the many challenges faced by consecrated persons today, the most unrelenting one would be the challenge of being a good communicator. The commitment to present the Christ, the living Son of God, to the world lays at the core of the vocation of a Catholic consecrated person.

Rhetoric and verbal communication is a prominent way of presenting Christ. This is obvious in public meetings where a religious person would get chances to present Jesus in fabulous and attractive ways.

In one of the public meetings I attended recently in connection with the Jubilee celebration of a Catholic organisation there were many speakers including two spiritual leaders – one Hindu sadhu and the other a Muslim imam – and a politician.

Such celebrations offer us platforms and occasions to present what the Church is and what it stand for to the world outside. These are also occasions for others such as the Hindu sadhu and the Muslim imam or a parliamentarian to provide testimony about the Church and Christ.

These religious or political leaders, albeit delivering words of praise about the institution, made it a point to present the essence of the particular ideologies they represented with their meticulous ideological perspectives and religious terminology on a platform freely offered by the Church.

Listening to these non-Christian speakers I was stunned by their sheer elocution. They astonished the audience by the articulation of the message and the delivery. Above all they were brief and to the point.

There were several Catholic leaders including Bishops, priests and religious on the dais. However, they could barely catch the audience, capture their attention, and inspire their intellect.

The spiritual leaders who represented other religions and faiths might not have received trainings as a Catholic seminarian has. Nonetheless, they could enunciate the message in fewer but impressive words. The flow of words and ideas was very captivating.

On a reflective note, I have more questions than answers. What is happening to the spiritual leaders of Catholic Church? Are they effective communicators, if not why? Should not they be powerful messengers of the Word of God? What can be done to improve this situation?

Our disproportionate focus on administration and obsession for organising various activities have diminished our attention to be effective witnesses both through words, deeds and life. A leadership that cannot communicate Christ effectively and attractively would make the Church less impressive and in turn weak. This is the challenge we need to take up as we are on a journey to renew the Consecrated life.

Jose Vallikatt has his specialisation in the interdisciplinary area of media, religion and culture. He writes on various issues related the Church and media.

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