O Clarim: Fr Mandia’s Exceptional Contribution to the Catholic World

Fr Leonard E Dollentas

After serving as the director of O Clarim for eight years, Fr José Mario O. Mandia relinquished his post on May 1, 2022, to undertake his next assignment.

The change in assignment for a priest is part of the rhythm of life in any local church. A priest working in a diocese is ordained for ministry in the entire diocese and not exclusively for a particular parish, specific assignment or a given task. When he serves in any ministry in the diocese, his priestly ministry binds him to his people. Priests teach, preach and may sanctify us even through the media.

Fr Mandia’s extensive background in philosophy and theology, and his knowledge of the growth of parishes and people in the diocese have been an invaluable resource for O Clarim to be more relevant in today’s society. His “Bite-Size Theology” article series has provided in-depth reflection and love for the Catholics to live their faith. Every week, it serves as self-contained nuggets of information for life and the growth of one’s faith.

However, Fr Mandia also wrote a series of articles before “Bite-Size Theology,” three of which are now published. First, Heaven in Daily Instalments, about norms of piety, a bilingual edition by Lumina Press. The second is The Leaves are Green in Summer: Bite-Size Philosophy, with its English edition by ChoraBooks. The third is 30 Stories, 30 Virtues, with its English edition by Spring Publications.

Archbishop Claudio Celli, former head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said that in the Church “we are fishing inside the aquarium whereby we forget that most fish are outside the aquarium.” Thus, new media is a digital continent that the priests and religious must treat as mission territory. Over the years, Fr Mandia has seen digital technology change the publishing ministry for the better while also increasing the pace of work. He especially noticed a difference between online readers and those who still rely on the print media. He realized that there are a wide number of audiences in the dominant software platforms, and so decided that the English edition of O Clarim be transitioned to online media. He reflected that this was God’s way of direction when O Clarim slowly felt the financial constraints brought by the pandemic, and a cheaper alternative was necessary to continue to reach all audiences.

From its initial mission of providing the diocese with diocesan updates, the Bishop’s messages and local news, O Clarim online has become Macao’s window to Chinese-speaking Catholics in China’s regions. Its online English edition has been gaining a wider audience in Asia and the English-speaking world.

Through Fr Mandia’s vision, O Clarim’s contribution to evangelization missions of the Macao Catholic Diocese has been enhanced. Theology and religious books have been published by O Clarim to help locals, who are baptized and newly admitted to the Church, to gain more understanding of the faith that they have received. While the books initially aided those undertaking religious studies as well as the local clergy and the religious, they are now published for a wider audience.

The staff at O Clarim say that they will miss Fr Mandia and his gentle presence in the office. Fr Eduardo Emilio Aguero SCJ of the Priests of the Sacred Heart has been entrusted with the new position to lead the Catholic news magazine in Macao. He will be O Clarim’s new director.