//Jesuit Communicators meet in Chennai

Jesuit Communicators meet in Chennai

The JESCOM Annual Meet 2023, a gathering of Jesuit communicators, took place on 23-25 October ’23 at Dhyana Ashram, Chennai. Delegates from 15 provinces/regions participated in the three-day event, delving into the profound intersection of faith, communication, and the challenges presented by the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The event began with a Holy Eucharist led by Fr. Anthony Robinson, SJ, Rector, Loyola College, Chennai. In his homily, he urged the delegates to reflect on the Jesuit tradition in communication, citing the historical printing of nearly 30,000 books by Jesuits in 1773. He posed the question, “At this juncture, where are we in this age of AI,  (Artificial Intelligence)?” a theme that echoed throughout the event.

The first day’s focus was on the theme of ‘Social Media – a Possibility to Evangelize’. Fr. Antony Pancras, Editor, New Leader, led the discussions on the dual nature of social media. Questions about rediscovering human connection in the digital age and addressing challenges like the digital divide and fake news were raised.

The second topic, ‘Social Media, AI and Its Hurdles’ presented by Fr. Ernest, SDB, explored the impact of AI on various aspects of life. Hurdles such as addictive technology use, censorship awareness, and the temptation of viralism were discussed. Fr. Ernest proposed practical solutions, such as the establishment of a Catholic Innovation Lab and the digitization of regional Christian/Jesuit assets.

Fr. Joe Arun SJ spoke on ‘Implementing UAP (Universal Apostolic Preferences) and PAP (Province Apostolic Preferences) through Social Media’ highlighting AI’s role in augmenting human thought. He stressed the importance of conceptualization, channels, and promotion in storytelling, reassuring delegates that they are the creators of the data AI requires.

The second day included a visit to Matha TV, the Catholic TV Channel run by the Catholic bishops of Tamil Nadu, offering delegates an exposure to the way a Catholic TV network operates. The day concluded with a dinner hosted by the Loyola College Jesuit community.

The final day’s topic, ‘Future of communication: A Random Reflection’ by Fr. Sebasti L. Raj, Secretary of CSID (Conference Secretary of the Inclusive Development), urged the JESCOM team to understand modern communication and use technology for social, spiritual, pastoral, and educational communication. Privacy concerns, cyber threats, and digital addiction were acknowledged, emphasizing the need for collaboration and action.

The JESCOM members discussed the need to work together, formulate an action plan, establish network connections zone-wise, share data, and prepare younger members in the media field. As a result, coordinators for all four zones were chosen: Central Zone: Fr. Justin Tirkey, SJ. Western Zone: Fr. Vincent Moonnu, SJ. Southern Zone: Fr. Xavier Anthony, SJ. Northern Zone: Fr. Vivek James. SJ.

Fr. Vernard Antony, the Conference Communication Coordinator, extended heartfelt thanks for the collective efforts that played a pivotal role in making the event a success. The members collectively decided that the next JESCOM meet will be held in Kolkata in 2024. Fr. Michael Pugazhendhi, SJ, the JESCOM Coordinator for the Chennai Province, and Fr. Vernard Antony, SJ, the Conference Communication Coordinator, meticulously organized the three-day JESCOM Annual Meet.

– James Vivekanandan, SJ (CCU)