So scanty was known of Pedro Calungsod by Filipinos themselves even after his beatification in March of the Great Jubilee Year 2000. But once word came out that he was to be canonized in October this year, multimedia content about him spread like wildfire in just a couple of months prior to the canonization. It was mostly young people that found a peer in St. Pedro Calungsod who were mostly responsible in popularizing a new saint of the young by harnessing the enormous power of social media. The young saint literally conquered the pages of Facebook and Twitter.
Notably, on the forefront of disseminating the young martyr are Facebook pages the likes of “100% Katolikong Pinoy!” and “Youth Pinoy.” But Youth Pinoy is laudably credited for using new media such as the Pedrito dolls in getting the message across. On this note, CBCPNews reports from Rome that “aside from aiming to trigger a social media maelstrom and drum up interest in the canonization, St. Pedro Calungsod’s mini version, Pedrito, is intended to inspire kids to sainthood.” This, of course, did not sit well with some older Catholics like Philippine Star columnist Federico Pascual, Jr., who wrote: “The 15-inch-tall doll, which looks like a toy, trivializes the saintly attributes of our own San Pedro….(who) should not be treated and marketed like a Pinoy male ‘Barbie’. Some people, kids especially, might start regarding and handling it as a toy.”
And that precisely is the juxtaposition of Eilleen Esteban who heads of Youth Pinoy—that kids would rather someday dream of becoming a saint rather than a super hero. For her, “Pedrito is, for the most part, a new evangelization tool or a way of promoting St. Pedro in a non-traditional way.”
The ongoing 13th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is talking about “the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith” in the face of current trends especially among the young the world over. The methods and tools that these young people are using to propagate St. Pedro Calungsod may actually be an emergence of a new culture that might be handy in defining the lexicon of the new evangelization.