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     Home > Culture and Society  >  2013-12-24 11:51:38
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Vatican Radio’s English Service for South Asia - 55 years!

The Vatican Radio started its English broadcast for South Asia in 1958, with a weekly 10-minute news transmission. Jesuit Father Thomas O’Donnell was its first Director and the broadcast was specially made for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In 1964 South Asia got a boost when Pope Paul VI visited Bombay, India for the World Eucharistic Congress from 2nd to 5th of December. Consequently, in 1965 the Indian section began a 10-minute evening broadcast in English,Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. Seventeen years later, in 1982 these evening broadcasts were repeated the following morning. By 1975 the English service had become the most significant for Vatican Radio, next to the Italian transmission. The English service for South Asia had also grown in proportion.
In 1986 Pope John Paul II visited India from January 31 to February 02. In preparation for his visit, English along with Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam were given extra time of transmission. Starting from 7th January 1986 the English Section began broadcasting 15 minutes of feature programme every morning. The evening programme consisted of six minutes of news only. By the end of 1986, the evening six minutes news increased to ten minutes and was repeated the following morning. From March 25, 1990, the English programme of 15 minutes was re-broadcast the following morning. From September 23, 1993, the English section has been transmitting 20 minutes of programs daily, repeating the evening programme the following morning.
Apart from the daily programmes there is also a live broadcast of the Holy Mass in English on Friday and Saturday. It is meant for those who do not have a chance to go for Mass on Sunday, such as those in the Middle East. The Friday Mass is transmitted in the afternoon, while on Saturday Mass is broadcast in the evening. The Sunday reflections on the liturgy and the News are aired only on Sunday morning.
The 80 year jubilee of Vatican Radio witnesses the English service for South Asia broadcasting daily afternoon for 20 minutes, with a replica each morning. The weekly reflection on Sunday’s Liturgy is enriched by a weekly programme on scripture, on Faith and Morals, and a Sunday programme entitled “Focus on the Church”. Other features are the “Rights and Wrongs” highlighting human rights issues, the “Come & See” feature illuminating happenings in daily life, and “The Backgrounder”, providing an extensive study of the problems of regions. Today the English section broadcasts daily. Its Monday to Saturday news transmission focuses on papal events with particular emphasis on the Church in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. On Sunday evening the section presents the programme, Focus on the Church along with a short UN program on humanitarian issues.
The Wednesday General Audience of the Pope gets full coverage, providing the listeners the voice of the Holy Father and his Apostolic Blessing. Sunday Angelus and other important liturgical celebrations get coverage too. Vatican Radio also follows the Pope on his pastoral visits abroad and brings to its audience a complete coverage of his activities.
In 2008 the English service for South Asia completed its Golden Jubilee (50 years) and is now looking forward to its Diamond Jubilee in 2018. In the past more than fifty years of its memorable service efforts have been undertaken to reach out to a wider audience. The English section has been focussing on the regional needs and provides them with the message of the Pope and his teachings. The News items are posted along with other outstanding features daily on the web. Monthly news bulletins are despatched, containing news and features. The English for Asia section is doing its best to meet this challenge of making the voice of the Pope heard, understood and appreciated by the people of South Asia. To achieve this end, we entrust ourselves in the hand of God. We count on the intercession of our Blessed Mother and also the patron of Vatican Radio, Archangel Gabriel.


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