LINGAYEN, PANGASINAN – In line with the Church’s call for a new evangelization, the media office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has launched the official website for Pope Francis’ apostolic visit in 2015.

The website, papalvisit.ph, features six panels: “Pope Francis,” “The Visit,” “News,” “Messages,” “Resources,” and “Links.”

In his message on papalvisit.ph, Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, chairman of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Social Communications, said Filipinos can learn about the teachings of Pope Francis through social media interaction, as a form of reflection and prayer.

The site, launched last Sept. 14, also carries the official logo of the papal visit, symbolizing the theme “Mercy and Compassion,” and the colors of the Philippine flag—red and blue.

Filipinos can get updates from the official Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube accounts of the papal visit. The links to the social media accounts are posted on the website.

Internet users may also watch the video for the National Prayer for the Papal Visit and the official theme song titled “We are all God’s chidren,” which was sung by Jamie Rivera with the Hail Mary The Queen Children’s Choir.

The official papal itinerary will also be posted in November as soon as it is announced by the Vatican. Media accreditation will also be available on papalvisit.ph by November.

‘Online missionaries of God’

The website was launched during the Catholic Social Media Summit (CSMS) last Sept. 13-14 at the Pangasinan Training Development Center, where the Filipino youth were called to be responsible “online missionaries of God.”

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Reflecting on the theme “The Encounter,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas reminded the youth of their Christian duty to spread the Gospel.

“The Internet is one of the greatest blessings of God in the third millennium. You go online to search for God. You must put Christ into it,” the CBCP president said.

Acknowledging the benefits of social media, Villegas said the youth should use social media with favor, fervor, and passion to avoid utilizing social media for the wrong reasons.

Michael Angelo Lobrin, a motivational speaker and author, said spreading the Gospel through social media is a response to CBCP’s declaration of 2014 as the Year of the Laity. “God also has entrusted evangelization to the laity through the use of the gift of social media,” he said.

Being an effective online missionary is not only limited to evangelization inside the church, but also in different fields as students or young professionals. “Bring Jesus anywhere. Social media is a gift but it can only be a gift if we understand its essence. It is built so we can also encounter His beloved,” Lobrin said.

The third version of CSMS has evolved since its inaugural version in 2012. A total of 14 parallel skills and advocacy workshops served as a curtain-raiser to the event. The advocacy workshop included topics such as the “fight against human trafficking,” the “modern scourge of homosexuality,” “consecration to Jesus through Mary,” the election catechism, “healing the Filipino diaspora of the family,” “overcoming pornography,” and “real and true justice.”

Skills workshops included creating graphics for social media evangelization, expressing Catholic faith and beliefs through article and content writing, creating videos and animation that communicate the Catholic faith, spreading Catholic faith and beliefs through social media content sharing, social media for parish and organizations, and using Instagram and Pinterest for evangelization. Angelie Mae S. Cantillana

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