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HomeNewsAsiaMyanmar priest bids adieu to Manila radio service

Myanmar priest bids adieu to Manila radio service

Father Paulinus Myat Kyaing signed off from his daily radio show on the church-run Radio Veritas Asia network in Manila for the last time on June 30.He was about to head home to Myanmar with mixed feelings after working in the Philippines for more than five years.”An era has ended,” he said, “but a wider world of opportunities to transmit the Good News and serve the church has opened and challenged us to do better.”Father Paulinus visited the Philippines for the first time in June 2013 and was appointed coordinator of the radio network’s Myanmar-language service.He was a seminary dean for two years before his superiors instructed him to go to Manila. The priest said he was afraid when he started working for the radio. “I feared I might not be able to do the job well,” he said.

When he was ordained as a priest in May 2010, he did not expect to be given “a painstaking, eight-hour, office-based job.” He also never considered that he would be sent outside his home country. “I wanted to stay on the periphery of Myanmar and perform pastoral work,” said the priest.For a year after his ordination, Father Paulinus was assigned to serve as an assistant parish priest at St. Michael’s Church in the Archdiocese of Yangon.In 2011, he was sent to a minor seminary “to take care of young people who want to take the path of an ordained man.”His mission in the Philippines did not come easy, but he said it prepared him to face the bigger tasks that await him as a priest.During his early days in Manila, Father Paulinus had to adapt to a new environment and a totally different culture.He spent most of his time understanding the nature of broadcast media. He also had to master the other local languages of Myanmar, aside from learning English.The priest’s tasks included translating church news from various sources into Myanmar’s local languages before transmitting it via shortwave radio.”Every day I learned new stuff,” he said. “But the most important thing that this job taught me is the value of collaboration and dialogue.”His work required him to interact with people of various nationalities and with organizations both within and outside the church.This “spirit of collaboration” was very much alive during the visit of Pope Francis to Myanmar last November. Father Paulinus was assigned to lead a team to cover the pope’s visit for the Radio Veritas Asia network.”We were at the center of the coverage for the whole company. All the other language services used our materials to broadcast to their own countries,” the priest recalled.He said his team was able to deliver such stories because of the collaboration with other services.The priest said the work is not limited to the studio or editing room. “It involves everything and everyone, especially our listeners,” he said.In his five years of working at the network, Father Paulinus said he saw the significance of giving listeners room to express their thoughts.He has since received thousands of letters from listeners in Myanmar. Most of their stories were about the people’s struggle and faith. There were also letters of thanks from those whose lives have been changed as a result of the programs.”I think people in the media should always consider not only being broadcast or heard but also listening to your listeners,” said Father Paulinus.He worked with Radio Veritas Asia when the church media network was about to enter a new venture and join the world of new technology.In October 2015, the network decided to migrate from short-wave broadcasting to online broadcasting as part of its self-reinventing as it adjusted to technological advances.The new medium presented a challenge to Father Paulinus and his colleagues but the changes were real, he said. “We studied the nature of the new medium. We have to adapt to a more fast-paced environment online,” he said.The priest said the new media platform enabled him “to reach a wider audience, serve a larger flock and connect to global Asians.”In August, Father Paulinus finally went home to continue his work as a local coordinator for Radio Veritas Asia’s Myanmar-language service.He continues to produce a weekly program on interfaith dialogue and justice and peace, which he records in Myanmar and sends to the Radio Veritas Asia headquarters in Manila, not through the radio but online.

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