Jesus’ last instruction to his disciples was a call to announce the Gospel to all nations. Our Lord is inviting us to share in His mission. We, the Vincentian Congregation, are always looking for new and better ways to share the message of Christ with the largest audience possible. St. Paul and the Apostles traveled throughout the known world to preach the Gospel. Modern technology has made the world smaller and opens new doors for the task of Evangelization. We always took new initiatives to employ the marvels of modern telecommunications at the service of the Gospel. Digital and social media are playing an increasingly important role in evangelism. The media can be a tool to invite people into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to have hope in Jesus Christ.
Vincentian Congregation put a tremendous focus on evangelization through media. The use of modern communication system facilitates the sharing of spiritual and liturgical recourses, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith. People are interconnected now more than ever through social media and the worldwide web. The potential for evangelization through this medium is almost limitless and yet to explore all of its potential. “People are increasingly aware that, unless the goodness is made known in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many. The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to keep up with the times but to enable the infinite riches of the Gospel to find forms of expression” (Pope Benedict XVI).
Potta Ashram was established in 1977 as the centre to coordinate the Popular Mission retreats. Members of the Popular Mission team began to reside there for prayer and preparation for the retreats. They felt the need to have a follow up program for the people who participated in the retreats in order to keep up the spirit and fervour which the faithful obtained from the retreats. This led to the beginning of the daily prayers and retreats at Potta Ashram in 1983. Soon people began to crowd to the Ashram seeking spiritual solace and liberation from the evils of alcohol and drug addiction. The sick and the broken-hearted came in large numbers. God’s compassionate love poured in. The loving presence of Jesus was powerfully felt by everyone. The sick were healed, the sinners were forgiven, the fetters of vices were broken and the Good News of salvation was preached to all.
From 1985 a bi-monthly publication by the name ‘Popular Mission’ was started. The purpose of this publication was to keep alive the spiritual renovation that was created as a result of the activities of the Popular Mission Centre. The articles and news contained in the magazine would awaken the spirituality of the people and would help it to grow. In the beginning there were only 1000 copies. As the participants of the prayer meetings increased, the copies also increased tenfold in circulation. Thousands became tens of thousands and gradually lakhs. Its name was changed and so were the contents and style of presentation and format. News and witnessing received wide coverage. These changes helped to attract the attention of readers. Some technical reasons prompted a name change. The name finally accepted was ‘Vachanolsavam’. Today Vachanolsavam is published in eight languages: Malayalam, English, Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali and Marathi. All together, there are 5.4 lakhs copies. Today people all over the world show a keen interest in reading this magazine. Fr. Michael Panachickal, was the first chief editor and Fr. George Panackal was the circulation manager. The innovations and enthusiasm of these two great priests have done a lot for the wide acceptance of this magazine.
Divine - Goodness TV Channel
In the year 2000, Pope St. John Paul II declared: “Electronic revolution presents ample opportunity for spreading the Gospel”. It was these words of the great Pope that inspired and urged the Vincentian Congregation to take on the challenge to start a television ministry to preach the Good News that has now blossomed into a 24-hour commercial free Catholic gospel channel under the leadership of Divine Retreat centre Muringoor. As a response to this prophetic call of Pope John Paul II, the Divine Retreat Centre established a media wing by name Divine Vision in the year 2001 to produce Gospel programs and transmit them through the secular TV channels. His Eminence Cardinal Varkey Vithyathil, the then Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar church on his visit to the Divine Retreat Centre strongly recommended that the Centre start a Catholic Gospel Channel. The same suggestion came in from other leaders of the Church as well. On January 24th 2005 the Congregation decided to start a spiritual TV Channel under the leadership of Divine Retreat Centre Muringoor.
Cardinal Varkey Vithyathil, blessing the elaborate preparation for the launching of the channel said “I see Divine TV as the vision that took shape in the minds of many, including myself, for the need of a TV channel in the modern scenario of the Catholic Church to reach the Gospel to every home”. Most Rev. Mar Mathew Vanikazhakkel, the Bishop of Satna, on his visit to Rome got the logo of the channel blessed by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. On November 20, 2011, the Media Day of the Church, His Beatitude Cardinal George Alenchery blessed the transmission of the Goodness TV Channel in India at a glittering event held at the Divine Retreat Centre in the presence of Sri Oomen Chandy, the Chief Minister, and many other Central and State Ministers. The transmission of the channel to the European and Middle East countries was launched by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Oriental Churches on November 7, 2008, encouraging the Vincentian Fathers to never tire in their mission to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Most Rev. Thomas Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, Canada, inaugurated the Divine Television Channel on March 22, 2009 as a 24 hours Catholic Gospel Channel to North America. He expressed his certainty that it will be a Divine presence in the families of the fast growing secularized world. In this Vincentian Television Ministry, we see the realization of our vision for the Word of God to reach every home across the globe. Divine-Goodness is available as a free channel without commercials to convey the Good News of Salvation in the light of the teachings of the Catholic Church .We always knew that we should not put a price to the Word of God and that any desperate soul anywhere in the world at a moment of distress can access this Channel and be comforted by the life-giving message of the Lord.
De Paul Media Mission
De Paul Media Mission started in 2006, is the Directorate of the media department of the St. Joseph’s Province of Vincentian Congregation. The centre is functioning, at Vincentian Ashram in Kothamangalam. De Paul media mission aims to make use of new- age electronic media besides conventional media like audio, video and printed texts to spread the message of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Several audio and video programs of quality have been produced by De Paul media mission and efforts are on to intensify works of similar nature. Notable works from this centre include Kanmazha Peyyum Munpe a critically acclaimed feature length film in Malayalam which carried an underlying message; the tele-film Jeevante Avakasi etc. Audio and video content including devotional songs, sermons and message oriented tele-films would be made available in cd/dvd format as well as streamed over the internet or made available for free download accessible even from internet enabled mobile devices. The content produced would primarily be in Malayalam as it is targeted at Malayalam speaking community at present. De Paul media mission’s logo is an exact impression of St. Vincent de Paul’s signature. The centre’s activities are an extension of his vision and the message of his life and works. Rev. Fr. Michael Panachickal is the present director.