Deacons told to observe TV newsreaders

Broken Bay Diocese Liturgist and lecturer, Fr Clem Hill, told last month's National Conference of Deacons in Adelaide, that priests, deacons and lectors at mass should observe the technique of TV newsreaders.

Fr Hill said church communication is often "from another era". The Church, he said, can be tempted to write off the modern communications era as a fad, but in fact it should really catch the vision of how powerful communications can be.

"Just compare the way a TV announcer reads the news and the way a priest, deacon or reader reads the Scripture," he said.

"The newsreader has one person in mind - you, the viewer.

"His mind's attuned to just one person. His voice is pitched to you, the individual, and only to you.

"He sets up a rapport with you."

"A person today has three main expectations in any communication," he said.

"The person expects to be communicated to as an individual.

"The person expects to be personally involved in the communicating.

"The person expects to feel and experience what's being communicated."

The church must understand these expectations.

"There's a whole new language of communications," he said. "If the church isn't speaking that language, we're lost.

"If people - especially young people -come to us and we're not communicating with them in the language they understand, they'll turn off immediately."

People who go to some churches certainly find a very different style of communication.

"There's no personal element. Often the priest, or reader or deacon, is communicating from another era.

"They're not expecting any feedback from people, even of the silent type. And expecting some feedback or response is essential.

"Surely the communication of the word of God is more than a matter of hearing it. It's a matter of responding to it.

"Our Lord himself showed this.

Fr Hill is chairperson of the Broken Bay Diocesan Liturgical Commission. He is a former senior lecturer in pastoral liturgy at the Catholic Institute of Sydney. He now lecturers there part time, as well as working in a parish and speaking at conferences around Australia.

The focus of the Deacons conference was the liturgical ministry of deacons including a review of sacramental theology, liturgical skills, and sharing our experiences of pastoral ministry. Conference papers are available for download from the Australian Deacons' website (see link below).

Pictured: Conference participants.

Communications: We're in a new era (National Conference of Deacons 22/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
National Deacons' professional development conference (National Committee of Deacons)
Deacons Net

Church in Ireland sees greater role for deacons (CathNews 25/1/05)
Deacon numbers tipped to double (CathNews 24/6/04)
Transitional deacon meets permanents at National Conference (CathNews 24/12/03)
Brisbane offering training for deacons (CathNews 6/12/01)

23 Feb 2006