Social Communications Department
Guidelines for the Salesian Congregation
DIREZIONE GENERALE OPERE DON BOSCO
Rome – 2011
AGC Acts of the General Council
ANS Salesian iNfo Agency
ASC Salesian Central Archives
BM Biographical Memoirs
DSC Department of Social Communication
FLOSS Free/Libre and Open Source Software
GC General Chapter
OPP Overall Province Plan
PSCP Province Social Communication Plan
SAP Sector Action Plan
SB Salesian Bulletin
SPS Scritti Pedagogici e Spirituali
SSCS Salesian Social Communication System
“Our publications tend to form an ordered system, broadly encompassing all classes forming human society”
(Don Bosco, Circular Letter on Spreading Good Books. 19 March 1885)
My dear Salesian confreres,
friends of Social Communication,
Everything changes, only God remains forever. Today, in the new era of communication, that is more apparent than ever. Not only have new technologies evolved, but they have influenced culture: how we relate to God, other people, and with nature, how we sort out our values, produce, distribute and acquire assets, how we make sense of life and make it fulfilling. Thus Pope Benedict XVI named his message for World Social Communications Day, 2009: “New Technologies, New Relationships.” He began speaking, in his Message, of a ’digital continent’. Hence the urgency of updating the Salesian Social Communication System (SSCS), whose latest edition was released six years ago by my predecessor, now Bishop, Tarcisio Scaramussa, and the communications personnel at the time, many of whom remain committed to this sector.
The renewal task took two years of meetings, reflection and synthesis with people very much committed to the field of communication in the Congregation: members of the Congregation, the Provincial Delegates and their teams, Directors of Publishing and Printing Houses, Radio and TV, Salesian Bulletin and multimedia presences, webmasters and members of the World Advisory Council for Social Communication. The quality of reflection, the range of participation and representation from the various Regions is beyond doubt. To everyone involved, thanks for your great sense of belonging to the Congregation and your clearly expressed responsibility for this sector, in team work with others, in carrying forward the Salesian mission. And congratulations too, because the document reflects your lives, beliefs, preparation and experience; this is a combined effort, and it is ’ours’.
The title has been preserved, and the basic concepts too, although the structure has changed compared to the first edition. We can still call it a renewed version, though; not a revolution! However, there are some threads that run through the entire document which, in addition to updating it, make it look quite new, and seek to promote a new mindset in the Congregation: an approach that fosters teamwork between the sectors of the Congregation focused on a common mission; the priority of forming Salesians, their lay mission partners, and young people to communicate; the consistent involvement of lay people in a field that is natural to them; the presentation of principles and criteria which seek a unified approach while demanding an appropriate and flexible local implementation; and finally, seeing and implementing SSCS as an ecosystem.
The first significant element for the document was the valuable presence of representatives of the Formation, Youth Ministry and Missions sectors at the World Advisory Council meeting which drafted the final document. This fact is due to the request of GC26 in number 117:
…having considered the complexity of the Salesian Mission; seeing the need for greater coordination between the Departments for Youth Ministry, Social Communication and the Missions, especially for animating sectors of shared activities; …asks the Rector Major with his Council to promote interdepartmental animation teams for these sectors and entrust the coordination to one Councillor or another, in each case safeguarding the unique and organic nature of Salesian pastoral ministry.
The unity and coordination of the sectors in favour of the mission is a charismatic requirement which, far from impoverishing individual sectors, enriches and enhances their identity, because we begin from the same source and move in the same direction. This also calls for a new mindset, a new way of living, to organise and form ourselves in communion with others, in order to fulfill a common mission.
Secondly, the SSCS has a clear conviction running through it: the formation to communication of Salesians, their mission partners and young people is a priority. New vocations to consecrated life, and generations of teenagers and young people to whom they are sent, belong to a new era and populate a new continent. Whether or not we are happy about the fact, we and our mission partners inhabit this ’continent’, by understanding and using its technology and languages, with greater or less success.
Formation which is unaware of or does not sufficiently value what is so obvious runs the risk of not attracting new vocations, not inculturating the gospel and not understanding those to whom it is sent. Formation to communication certainly goes far beyond regulating use of technology and the Web, and goes far beyond offering casual topics and workshops for critical understanding. It is a dimension running across everything, one that includes both formators and those in formation, teachers and pupils.
For the latter, education to responsible freedom is essential; for consecrated persons, in addition to that there is need for formation to authenticity of life, which includes love for our vocation, our mission and those to whom we are sent. So I can assure you that we are facing the most wonderful and challenging opportunity for evangelisation and education in a very Salesian ’continent’, because it is populated by so many teenagers and young people, and it is one which most needs an updated implementation of the preventive system. This ’continent’ needs the manifestation of God’s love: the digital continent, where rich and poor, believers and agnostics alike all live. And here I simply confirm the previous paragraph: it requires a Salesian who is formed in an all-round fashion; pastoral ministry which starts out from the needs and circumstances of those to whom it is addressed; a Salesian with renewed zeal for the mission who does not confuse that mission with its works; a Salesian communicator with spiritual depth who can bear witness to God amongst young people in today’s digital age.
Moreover a new mindset and a fresh and open contribution now offers something special to lay people involved in the Salesian mission through communication. GC24 made it clear that “consecrated Salesians and lay people share the same spirit and the same mission.” This is a really enriching view for the communication field. There are more and more well-prepared Provincial Delegates for Communication, increasing numbers of specialised lay people, experts in their province teams, and the same goes for the World Advisory Council. For the preparation of this SSCS their contribution has been more than technical; it has had an important ecclesiological and charismatic character, thereby continuing the momentum created in Valdocco for the evangelisation and education of young people in need. Religious and laity have much to offer and so much to learn from each other, but always in favor of evangelisation and education of young people living in a new reality and therefore in need of new witnesses and new apostles to accompany them in their discernment of their calling. Significantly, in 2010, the Italian Bishops met under the general theme of “Digital Witnesses.” Digital reality and new evangelisation are a new theme running through the document. Don Bosco continues to be our father and inspiration for all this.
The document presents unifying overall criteria that require reflection and local implementation. The unity given by the charism respects the application of the principles and the diversity of levels and rhythms that are the result of history, culture and capabilities. The study and implementation of SSCS, given that the charism, mission and those in this new world for whom they exist are at its centre, are the responsibility firstly of the provincial and his council, as well as the Delegate and his or her team.
It would be unacceptable, given the above, for this dimension to be lacking in the Province, or for there to be a lack of someone to animate it, be that person Salesian or lay, someone who urge people to see themselves in this new continent of young people, where they are to be faithful God, Don Bosco and to these very same young people. It would be unacceptable also that there be little or no importance given to communication in the OPP or EPP. So it is essential to have a delegate who is the “soul”, gives life and energy to a social and fraternal body of service such as the province is. This means developing the same mission together with other sectors and works, but from the essential point of view of communications. Broad and valid principles, along with their intelligent and passionate application in each province, come together in favor of the mission.
Finally I note that we have intentionally focused SSCS and intend to apply it further as an “ecosystem”; a dynamic, harmonious, and flexible understanding which provides a balanced, holistic development directed to a clear end. Don Bosco was the creator of evangelising and educating settings, because he was able to devise room for harmonious, balanced relationships and a great desire for transcendence. This can be seen perfectly in his idea and experience of the oratory and playground. He ensured that every area invited an expansive sense of life, through its relationships, value proposition, its very arrangement of space, the active role played by people in it. Those involved, teachers and students, could freely choose to feel, hear, speak, taste, touch every moment and place he proposed.
It became a home to love and be loved, like in a family; a yard where people were happy and could live expansively with friends; a school which educated minds to be productive, and construct a just society; a parish which celebrated God as the ultimate purpose of life. These are the best way of expressing a communicative ecosystem where people communicate more by what they are than what they say. This again demands that all sectors work together in favour of the Salesian mission.
I reiterate my gratitude to all those involved in updating the SSCS and I trust everyone will appreciate studying and applying it in their Provinces.
Fraternally in Don Bosco,
Fr Filiberto González Plasencia sdb,
General Councillor for SC,
Rome, Italy 31.01.2011
Communication has become a topic for study and reflection today which has aroused deep and considerable interest, not just because technology has enabled communication in ways that were unthinkable some decades ago, but also because we have become increasingly aware that its quality is at risk. Just as we begin to understand the importance of the air we breathe when it becomes no longer breathable and we need to intervene and do something about it, so it is for communication. Scientists and technicians, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, educators have become deeply interested in it: thus our understanding of what communication is has grown. We have understood at least the following “truths”:
a. Human communication cannot be reduced to the flow of information beginning from a transmitter and ending up at a receiver; we have gone well beyond the linear model. A scheme of this kind might work for machines but not for people. Authentic communication demands mutual attention and dialogue; it comes about when there is cooperation amongst people to define content which is really shared, hence a circular, dialogue model.
b. When we communicate, we do not just develop messages but manage relationships. We work on two planes contemporaneously, content (ideas, statements…) and relationships (we define the type and quality of the relationship which binds us to our interlocutor). It is very important to be aware of this because often it is not the ideas but our belief that our interlocutor is not interested in us or our ideas, which blocks communication.
c. Communication cannot be identified with any specific activity. Certainly, I seek to communicate through the words I use with my interlocutor, but the message cannot be reduced to these words. Beyond words, and sometimes despite them, we communicate through gesture, facial expression, visual contact, our mode of dress, body language, our very presence in a determined setting. Communication, then, is a dimension of all my actions. In this sense we can say that everything is communication.
d. The quality of our communication is not guaranteed solely by our respect for the syntax of the language we are using. There is a context, and range of values which move us in a coherent direction. In the past we might have used the image of inter-connected beakers or glasses: by pouring water into one beaker, I raise the level of communication between all of them in the sense that the liquid I pour in distributes itself through all the beakers and the level grows in a uniform way across all of them. It is not enough to work on just one aspect of my communication; everything has to be improved.
Today, however, we can use a more effective metaphor: we can speak of an “ecosystem”. The quality of communication in a determined context is guaranteed by a plurality of interacting factors. It follows that everyone, and also every organism, communicates in a truly effective way if there is consistency between the intentional message and the messages actually sent via what is done and what in fact is.
Once we understand communication this way it becomes even more interesting to refer to Jesus,1 not just to find out what he said directly and explicitly about the issue, but more as a reflection on his “communicative” way of being and acting with people, the disciples, children, sinners, authorities, his Father. The fact that he was both Man and God becomes important (the principle of Incarnation). Let us read what Communio et Progressio has to say in no. 11:
While He was on earth Christ revealed Himself as the Perfect Communicator. Through His “incarnation”, He utterly identified Himself with those who were to receive His communication and He gave His message not only in words but in the whole manner of His life. He spoke from within, that is to say, from out of the press of His people. He preached the Divine message without fear or compromise. He adjusted to His people’s way of talking and to their patterns of thought. And He spoke out of the predicament of their time.
It is also productive to make reference to Don Bosco, not just to assess his activity as writer, publisher, distributor… and reflect on his impassioned recommendation that his sons continue his intense activity in the field which later came to be called “social communication”. This is but one aspect of the teachings Don Bosco left us in the communications area.
There is much more yet to be discovered and applied to our current experience. Don Bosco is great for the communicative quality he infused into his presence amongst the young, for inventing an educational praxis of exceptional value the “preventive system”, as he called it), for setting up the oratory, and for his use of any resource at his disposal for the good of the young.
Here it is worth listening to one specialist in communication studies, Umberto Eco. He attributesDon Bosco with having brought about a “great revolution” in the communications field, and for having proposed, then realised through the oratory structure, the utopia of “a new way of being together”, one that can be offered as an effective strategy in a society of mass communications no longer characterised by certain ’dinosaurs’ (radio, television, newspapers, cinema), but broken up into a series of compartments (“blue-jeans, drugs, sale of used-guitars, mobs and groups are also part of mass communications”). In this context “the need is not to produce more dinosaurs, but be aware of the many channels and build up new ways of using, changing, alternating them, bringing them together”.
Don Bosco invented [this revolution], then exported it through a network of parishes and Catholic Action, but the core is there where this clever reformer saw that industrial society needed new ways of coming together, first for young people then for adults, and so he invented the Salesian oratory: a perfect machine where every communication channel, from games to music, theatre to press, is managed in its own way in its simplest fundamentals then re-used and discussed when communication results. We recall that by the 1950’s a network of twelve thousand small parish halls had succeeded in influencing film producers”.
The cleverness of the oratory is that it lays down a moral and religious code for those who attend, but also accepts those who don’t follow it! In this sense Don Bosco’s project influenced all of Italian society in the industrial era”. And so that “Don Bosco’s project” may continue to be effective, Eco goes on, we need “someone or some group with the same sociological imagination, the same alertness to our times, the same organised inventiveness. Outside this framework no ideological force can draw up a global policy of mass communication, and will be limited to dealing with (uselessly for the most part and often in a damaging way) those who run the big dinosaurs, where there is less value than we are led to believe”.2
We could hardly leave such a utopian description of Don Bosco’s “great revolution” without a reference to someone whom we know to be Don Bosco’s inspiration at a profound level: St Francis of Sales. While we might think of the saintly Bishop of Geneva as a communicator par excellence in almost every respect (he was a creative journalist, amongst many other aspects of the communicator’s ’trade’), we only need look at the incipient oratory at Valdocco to realise what it was about Francis that had so deeply inspired Don Bosco. We can let the Salesian historian Fr Peter Stella tell us about it: Right from the outset, Don Bosco’s rooms and the chapel were at the heart and centre of the oratory at Valdocco; both can be considered places holding a range of messages which Don Bosco addressed to his interlocutors.
Young people and adults who entered his room saw a plaque on the wall which read: Da mihi animnas, coetera tolle, which as well as being a motto was also a brief prayer addressed to God. It is significant that the chapel, later replaced by a more spacious church, was dedicated to St Francis of Sales to indicate, according to Don Bosco’s own explicit claim, his educational style: no severe arrangements, but the kindliness of the educator; cheerfulness displaying the intimate correspondence with divine grace which young people needed to achieve and express…3
Don Bosco, we could be fairly certain, did not look to Francis of Sales to inspire him in some particular aspect of communication activity, but what characterises both ’Francis and John’, in reality, is the creative, optimistic, gentle but insistent way they overcame all obstacles to spread the Gospel of salvation. They were, at different times and in different places (though not too different, geographically and culturally speaking; after all, they shared the beauty of the Alps and lakes and ’Piedmont’ plains), true communicators of God’s love, and constructors of His Kingdom.
communications ecosystem: The gamut of involvement and personal attitudes of those who agree to create an environment which is a real community of sharing ideals, values, relationships at the level of daily living in a community and a neighbourhood. (From a footnote in the original edition of SSCS)
animation: A characteristic style of Salesian leadership drawing from the fundamental meaning of ’animate’ which is to give life or soul to something or someone, that is to say, to motivate.
Animation and Governance Programme of the Rector Major and his Council: The planning process, initiated by the Rector Major but developed with the help of his Council, which takes place at the beginning of a six year period, i.e. immediately after a General Chapter, and which guides the following six years. (Cf General Council Vademecum, 2003).
blog: A website or part of a website usually maintained by an individual, often with entries in reverse chronological order. It may be commentary or personal reflection. The term is a blend of two English words: ’web’ and ’log’.
communications resources: The term is found frequently in these pages and refers in the broadest sense to what is usable, available and could be considered as means to achieve an end. These means may be physical (a particular quantifiable resource) or personal (e.g. intellectual resources to confront an issue), or technical. In some instances they are specified as being ’educational’ or ’financial’ or other.
convergent media: Multiple products coming together to form a single product that does many things. (European Union definition).
chat: Instant messaging system which allows users to communicate via a keyboard, principally, sending text messages in real time. User is usually required to use a ’nick’ or nickname. Chats are organised into ’rooms’ according to topic.
communication: The term ’communication’ refers to people in the process of interpersonal and group relationships, but also to a cultural and social environment that involves everyone in a network, with considerable mediation of tools and technologies. Intrinsic to the sense of the word communication are values like reciprocity, participation in giving and taking. This is why we can say that everyone involved in the communication process is a subject of ’social’ communication.
cyberspace: Term coined by William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer (1984) to refer to a notional space, a kind of collective hallucination created by powerful computers interacting with human beings. Now the term has a broader reference to the virtual environment created by all kinds of instruments connected to the Web, resulting in a sort of parallel universe.
departments of the mission: A directive of GC26 in view of the need for greater coordination between the Departments for Youth Ministry, Social Communication and the Missions, especially for animating sectors of shared activities … in each case safeguarding the unique and organic nature of Salesian pastoral ministry.
digital: (and by extension, ’digital generation’, ’digital media’, ’digital divide’, ’digital inclusion’ etc.) Digital information is stored using a series of ones and zeros. Computers are digital machines because they can only read information as ’on’ or ’off’ – 1 or 0. This method of computation, also known as the binary system, may seem rather simplistic, but can be used to represent incredible amounts of data. CDs and DVDs can be used to store and play back high-quality sound and video even though they consist entirely of ones and zeros.
Unlike computers, humans perceive information in analog. We capture signals as a continuous stream through all the senses. Human beings draw information from all the senses. Digital devices, on the other hand, estimate this information using ones and zeros. The rate of this estimation, called the “sampling rate,” combined with how much information is included in each sample (the bit depth), determines how accurate the digital estimation is.
One issue has not appeared in the document, that of the so-called ’digital divide’. There is still much debate about what this means and what it might mean for Salesians, beyond merely superficial acceptance of a term that is not universally accepted anyway. But it must be assumed from the overall attitudes and practices indicated in the current document that the SSCS supports digital inclusion and rejects any form of digital exclusion.
digital continent: The term was coined by Pope Benedict XVI for his 2009 World Communications Day Message. He did not define it but used it as a spatial metaphor directed to the ’digital generation’, asking them to “take on responsibility for the evangelisation of the ’digital continent’”.
educommunication: The complex of policies and activities inherent in the planning, putting into practice and evaluation of processes and products aimed at creating and strengthening communications ecosystems in educational settings, be they face to face or virtual.
evangelisation: The bringing of the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new … the Church evangelises when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs (EN 18).
FOSS: Free/Libre Open Source Software. Software that is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to use, study, change and improve its design through the availability of its source code.
frame of reference: A system of assumptions and standards that sanction behaviour and give it meaning.
language: The distinction between the French words, langue (language or tongue) and parole (speech), enters the vocabulary of theoretical linguistics with Ferdinand de Saussure’s COURSE IN GENERAL LINGUISTICS, published posthumously in 1915 after having been collated from student notes. Then there is langage.
- language in the sense of parole is a local example of speech, an utterance.
- language in the sense of langue is what we might normally understand as a ’language’, a system of signs.
- language in the sense of langage is a competence for language, or the abstract notion of language and could apply to animals, humans, cinema, theatre …
network, networking: While the two terms are not identical, as used in SSCS they refer chiefly to the concept of human beings working together, establishing contacts, either as individuals or as groups. However it is important to be aware that the exchange or growth of ideas in a network, or networking activity understood in this ’social’ sense, are not to be reduced to an image of nodes with connections, as often seems implied by descriptions of networks. Social networks are now the object of profound study, study which indicates new ’laws’ and dynamics at work which have implications for how we engage in this process.
new frontiers: “It is a question of frontiers not only geographical but also economic, social, cultural and religious” (Fr Chávez at the conclusion of GC26).
new technologies: Any set of productive techniques which offers a significant improvement (whether measured in terms of increased output or savings in costs) over the established technology for a given process in a specific historical context. Defined thus, what is seen as ’new’ is obviously subject to continual redefinition, as successive changes in technology are undertaken. (Gordon Marshall. “new technology.” A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998.)
ongoing formation: The natural and essential continuation of the process experienced in initial formation (Ratio, 2000 edition, no. 520).
Overall Provincial Plan (Alternative form: Organic Provincial Plan) OPP: The strategic plan for the animation and government of the province, which takes an overall view of its life and mission and presents the fundamental choices that ought guide its organisation.
personal media: An emerging digital communications media “incorporating interactivity in its design, and allowing users not only to consume media products but also to create them” (Shiregu Miyagawa, professor of linguistics and communication at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
publishing: The preparation and issuing of (printed, but now including digital) materials for public distribution or sale.
Ratio: Practical guide for formation of Salesians of Don Bosco, the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis et studiorum as it is known in its complete title (also known as Formation of the Salesians of Don Bosco or FSDB), “sets out in an organic and instructive way the complexus of principles and norms concerning formation which are found in the Constitutions, General Regulations and other documents of the Church and of the Congregation” (R. 87).
Salesian Bulletin: A magazine in function of the (Salesian) mission, founded by Don Bosco, addressed to public opinion more than to the institution, meaning by this that it is sensitive to being a part of the circumstances that human beings and the Church experience today, and offers a Salesian reading of these facts, especially regarding youth and education.
Salesian Social Communication System (SSCS): Other than the title of this work, “an integrated and unified communication project” (Fr Martinelli to Salesian Bulletin editors, 1998).
social communication: "Among the wonderful technological discoveries which men of talent, especially in the present era, have made with God’s help, the Church welcomes and promotes with special interest those which have a most direct relation to men’s minds and which have uncovered new avenues of communicating most readily news, views and teachings of every sort. The most important of these inventions are those media which, such as the press, movies, radio, television and the like, can, of their very nature, reach and influence, not only individuals, but the very masses and the whole of human society, and thus can rightly be called the media of social communication” (Inter Mirifica, Vatican II, introductory paragraph).
translation memory TM: Repository of “source texts segments explicitly aligned with their target texts counterparts”. It can, in fact, be considered as a data bank from which translators can retrieve already translated segments that match a current segment to be translated (Bowker, L., 2002. Computer-aided Translation Technology: A Practical Introduction. Canada: University of Ottawa Press).
Web 2.0 and 3.0: If we consider the traditional Web as Web 1.0, we note that it is largely static, in the sense that we can read a web page but do little else than click its hyperlinks and cause something to play (video or sound). In Web 2.0 we shift from ’Read’ to ’Read-Write’; from html only to AJAX (Asynchronous Java and XML) technologies;from static to interactive, including blogs, social networking. And while there is no formal definition of Web 2.0 (it is a term which simply grew up along the way), it is actually the kind of ’Web’ that Tim Berners Lee, its ’inventor’, initially envisaged, though what he envisaged really is what we are now calling Web 3.0, the semantic Web, where everything is connected to everything else in a way (in a language called OWL or Web Ontology Language) that enables machines to read and interpret knowledge for the benefit of human readers.
This material brings together the key elements of a framework for communication, and guidelines and policies for SSCS in action, such as they appear in the documents of the Salesian Congregation after GC20 (1971-2) and over recent years. As such, it is a working tool for those who have particular responsibilities for fostering communications at global, regional and local levels. It should be read in conjunction with the “Guidelines for the Formation of Salesians in Social Communication”, addressed specifically to Salesians.
The material comes in three parts:
b. Guidelines for the Formation of Salesians in Social Communication
A fourth part, the handbook, which bears the title Salesian, Communicator, is currently under revision and thus not included in this collection.
The first section, SSCS, contains: a preface; statements about key concepts; a glossary; vision and mission; strategic objectives; policies; organisation, roles, functions; appendices.
Don Bosco had a broad understanding of communication. The letter he wrote on the dissemination of good books is like a magna carta expressing his apostolic heart, faith and entrepreneurial vision.
Communication was a priority mission area for him: “This dissemination of good books is one of the principle ends of our Congregation… I beg and plead with you, then, not to neglect this most important part of our mission”.4 It is also of interest that in his very first encounter with Pope Pius IX as written up by the cleric Rua who accompanied him, Don Bosco responded to the Pontiff’s question as to what he did in Turin, in these words: “Your Holiness, I am involved in educating youth and with the Catholic Readings” (BM Book 5)
Besides the press and the “dissemination of good books,” Don Bosco used all available communication tools and languages for education available in his time: the theatre, academies, music …
Don Bosco employed a range of communication strategies to reach young people, some of whom were uneducated and even illiterate. The use of narrative forms, illustration, his sacramental appreciation were all equally important for an effective communicator, with games, ’good nights’, a lively narration of dreams, stories, and through liturgy.
Don Bosco had seen the power of information for the animation of his spiritual family, and for the mobilisation of society for his mission. The creation of the “Salesian Bulletin” addresses precisely such purposes as these. Today the possibilities for providing information and creating community are enormous, following in the footsteps of Don Bosco in this regard. They include ANS, provincial and digital newsletters, the various web sites, social networks and so on.
His vision was aimed at the education and evangelisation of youth and popular environments. He thought, then, of communication as a real system involving everyone and everything: "Our publications tend to form an ordered system, which broadly encompasses all the classes that make up human society".5 In fact the word ’system’ is dear to Don Bosco, who used it especially to indicate the relationship between the elements that characterise his style of education: the preventive system.6
Don Bosco’s vision was carried forward dynamically by his successors, as can be shown especially in the writings of all the Rectors Major, from General Chapters and other documentation in the Congregation.7
It is true that it was often necessary to draw attention to our growth in commitment to this charismatic aspect, and move to a positive attitude and entrepreneurial position rather than a defensive one before the media. Fr Ricaldone said as much when he indicated: “We cannot be content with just the negative side; we have to shore up against evil in print by disseminating good books”.8
In tune with the changing times, the development of new technologies and their impact on society and culture, especially after the Special General Chapter (1971-2), a broader and more complete view of the communications area and its manifold meanings has matured, as well as a common and coordinated development and organisation. In fact, the Chapter had cited the report by Fr Ricceri which recognised that "a systematic, coordinated approach appropriate to the importance and relevance of the instruments of social communication, has not been fostered".9
General Chapters and documents which followed them further reveal the consolidation of convictions and the new more systemic activity of the Salesians in the communications field, where we note:
- an awareness of the importance of communication as "mass education, producer of culture, an alternative school";10
- the priority of this area for education and evangelisation;11
- a broader view of communication as a human dimension that has communion and the advancement of human society as its primary purpose;12
- the "exploitation of all forms and expressions of communication: interpersonal communication, group production of messages, and critical use of the educational resources of communication";13
- the value of communication as a new meeting place for young people;14
- the formalisation of services, leadership and coordination of policies, structures: the General Councillor for Social Communication15 and the Provincial Delegate;16 the role of the Provincial and his Council;17 The involvement of every confrere;18 information channels and production centres;19 The duties of Provincial Conferences;20
- the qualification and training of personnel.21
The period from 1990 onwards has been dominated by new and prodigious development especially in the digital media world. It was marked out as a ’new frontier’ in 2008 by GC26, where "we also feel questioned by new technologies and the educational challenges they pose".22 The Chapter recognised that there are "many virtual worlds inhabited by young people … and that we are not always able to share with them and animate them through lack of formation, time and sensitivity" (no. 102) and has proposed, inter alia, "responsible use, and more effective educational animation and evangelisation" (no. 104) and that the communities "use communications technologies to provide greater visibility for their presence and to spread the charism" (n. 110)
The SSCS aims to foster a Salesian communicative environment which is a communion of individuals, works, projects and activities. It aims to set in place the development and application of communication resources for the education and evangelisation of young people, especially those who are poor, and of society. It does not do this alone, but works with other sectors responsible for the Salesian mission.
Beliefs and values are the ideas that identify, define and guide the activities of the Salesian Congregation in the communication field.
The term communication refers to people involved in interpersonal and group relationships, but also to a cultural and social environment that involves everyone in a network, with considerable mediation of tools and technologies. Intrinsic to the sense of the word communication are values like reciprocity, participation, giving and taking. This is why we can say that everyone involved in the communication process is a subject of ’social’ communication.
The human person is a being in communication, dialogue, a being for others, a condition and possibility for each and every act of communication. We are all communicators although we are not all professional communicators.
True and effective human communication is a process of human relationships which, in addition to passing on clear messages, is able to generate:
- mutual enrichment;
- improvement of human relations;
- living together in fellowship.
The most important content of communication is the gift that God makes of himself to humanity in the Risen Jesus. The most important conviction Salesians have concerning this is that they bear witness to the love of God revealed in Christ and communicate this through the various signs, symbols and languages of communication.
Evangelisation, catechesis and education do not operate without an adequate human and communication process.
The media are a gift from God and are of fundamental importance for education and evangelisation in our times.
Communication is a broad field of meaningful action that falls within the apostolic priorities of the Salesian mission.
The Salesian charism has innovative potential in the communications area.
Don Bosco’s preventive system sums up the Salesian style of communication.
This is why the Salesian Congregation’s communication policy is based on criteria that are the hallmark of well-differentiated Salesian activity. These criteria indicate the major decisions and their manner of implementation in this area:
The youthful and popular charism of Salesian life guides the communications efforts of both community and individuals. This results in communication that seeks to establish a positive relationship of openness and solidarity with young people and with people generally, and in this way our communication also presents works and activities in various contexts around the Salesian world. As well as real life situations, we need to offer an updated interpretation of world events and situations from the inculturated viewpoint of evangelisation and education.
The SSCS needs to develop efforts to ensure that the institution’s image for young people is testimony to Christian engagement in social transformation. We are aware that "the first educational service that young people expect from us is the testimony of a fraternal life that becomes a response to their deep need for communication, the proposal of humanisation, prophecy of the Kingdom, invitation to accept the gift of God" (GC25, 7). To widen the circle of friends and those who are jointly responsible for youthful and popular activity, we are committed to stirring up interest in the situation of young people and their needs, in Don Bosco’s mission, his work for human development and evangelisation, activities to liberate young people and people generally from immediate difficulties, in view of their growth as human beings. We think of ’selling’ as awakening new Salesian vocations: building up a vast movement in the style of Don Bosco.
Evangelisation and Education:
The Salesian charism is an educative charism. To evangelise by educating and to educate by evangelising sums up Salesian activity in the communications area. For us spiritual sons of Don Bosco and St Francis of Sales, such activity is in perfect harmony with the choices made by our founder and patron. Salesian communication, therefore, has this educational side to it, and expresses it as a commitment to the cause of culture and education, as a safeguarding of Salesian cultural tradition, a response to the question of communication and the skills of educators and young people in this area, and as communication content and form. We believe that our commitment to education is "our most important contribution to changing the world for the coming of the Kingdom" (GC24, 99).
"The original contribution that we can offer to the cause of education is called the preventive system" (GC24, 99), which is at the core of the communicative environment. "In Don Bosco’s way of thinking and in Salesian tradition, the preventive system continues to be identified with the Salesian spirit: it is teaching, pastoral care, spirituality, combined into one dynamic experience bringing together teachers (as individuals and communities) and students, content and methods, attitudes and clearly identifiable behaviours" (GC21, 96). Salesian communication is characterised by the preventive system … it spreads the values of the Salesian spirit as apostolic impulse, a sense of God and the Church, predilection for the young, family spirit, optimism and joy, a practical sense of things, creativity and flexibility, work and temperance, and the practice of the preventive system - a form of ’assistance’ made up of reason, religion, kindness. These features together portray the ideal and enviable profile of the Salesian educator.
Ethics and Professionalism:
As with all human activities, Salesian activity in the communication dimension implies ethical and professional criteria guided, in this case, by the educational and evangelical nature of this activity. Ethics expresses the professional honesty of the communicator in a state of permanent search for truth, in an attitude of institutional consistency, neither triumphalist nor self-referential, with a democratic attitude of deep respect for facts and the recipients whom he or she serves without deception, cheating or manipulation; with respect for copyright, image, privacy, law. Professionalism involves a rigorous way of doing things, appropriate to the nature of the reality we are dealing with. For communication this means: systematic, critical and continuous assessment of data; identification of recipients to differentiate interaction and information; quality of form and content, adapted to the recipient according to his or her its capabilities, and to the type of media with its demands.
To be effective in mission, we look to Don Bosco who encouraged numerous initiatives and forms of communication with various media such as theatre, music, art, literature … trying every means possible to communicate without ever losing the communal feel of our mission to education. Interdisciplinary communication is a requirement of the Salesian charism: a tool for communion in the global expression of the Salesian mission; a response to the needs of a rounded education which implies sharing of knowledge and diversity of languages; an expression of leadership and the involvement characteristic of the Salesian educational process.
One of these rights (a third generation right) is the right to communicate. This right is very appropriate for the poor and is therefore a right to be advanced and supported by the Salesian Family, which can become the voice for the voiceless, helping those who cannot make themselves heard.
To work systematically means working with a shared vision, in alignment with the Church and the Congregation, with integrated policies and projects at various levels, sectors well-articulated; it means certain work approaches, involving people, networking among ourselves and with other institutions in society who share the same mission. Openness to teamwork and partnership is a guideline for life inherent to our project and organisation as a Congregation, a Family and a Salesian Movement. Today we have no hesitation in describing this as an ecosystem.
Networking amongst individuals and groups calls for qualities of authenticity and genuineness, and the capacity to build trust and sustain relationships. It also means acknowledging that people look for guidance or consider ’witness’ when they make decisions, and that this dynamic actually comes into play in networking amongst human beings.
The priority target of action for the Salesian Congregation in the Social Communications Sector, as also for every Salesian, is young people, especially the poorest amongst them. Popular environments and the missions are another priority target. Given that all these are beneficiaries of the mission, all communication is geared to meet their needs for education and evangelisation. Having said that, both in Don Bosco’s approach and in our contemporary understanding of ’ecosystem’ as applied to the field individuals and groups are not only beneficiaries but also key players in their own right.
- to be creative, play an active part in their own growth, in society, and with us in our mission;
- to understand, be familiar with and use resources and processes of communication for their education, and their relationship with God, people, nature, and society;
- to be critically aware of how to interact with the media and live in the interconnected world which they are part of;
- information that will assist their growth in society, their life project, and their relationship to the world;
- information on the Congregation, the Church, Religious Life.
- to be formed for the digital generation that they are, and also to responsible use of various types of media (mass, folk, personal, convergent etc.) for competent, active engagement as creators in opportunities offered by social media (social networks, web sites), as well as by youthful and popular forms of expression.
- communication resources appropriate for the work of formation and the socio-political, cultural and religious development of ordinary people;
- data sources and research on youth;
- to network to exchange and consolidate projects;
- to foster human rights, including the right to communicate.
- critical awareness of how to interact with the media and live in the interconnected world which they are part of.
Other beneficiaries/key players are the Salesians, lay people who share responsibility with us, the Salesian Family, supporters of Don Bosco, society (media, government, civil, non-government and church organisations, other specific sectors). Activity in the communication dimension responds to their needs, ensuring that these services benefit their priority targets.
- a clear awareness that they are to "discover the presence of God [in the young] and invite them to be open to his mystery of love" (GC26 2)
- to know the language of young people;
- to know appropriate forms of non-linear logic, non-linear ways of representing the truth (the language of images, multimedia design, narrative presentation…);
- to be ready for a positive attitude towards and critical reception and mastery of the use of tools and their languages;
- to be prepared as cultural animators;
- ongoing formation for working professionally in communication;
- materials to help carry out the educational and pastoral mission;
- information on the life of the Congregation, the Salesian Family, youth and education;
- mental preparation for growth of and in a sense of community and belonging (corporate synergy);
- expertise in integrating the message of education and evangelisation in today’s media culture;
- to disseminate Salesian principles and values;
- a willingness to use the tools in the right way in the context of the mission and in accordance with religious directives.
- to be prepared for networking.
- Salesians who are formed to be evangelisers, educators and communicators;
- a professional, stable and flexible communication system (integrated strategic plan, network, structures and appropriate tools, communication with society, ecosystem, communications);
- qualified personnel;
- information on and mental preparation for animation projects;
- a mindset which sees the importance of sharing responsibility with lay people in this field (cf. GC24);
- formation and production centres (facilities and resources - businesses);
- formation and consolidation, in terms of society, of the Congregation’s image as an educational and evangelising institution working in the service of poor youth and popular environments;
- movement of information between the General Administration and the Provinces.
- to see themselves as true partners with us in the Salesian mission;
- to understand the language of young people;
- to know the Salesian system;
- to be formed as cultural animators and leaders;
- to be formed in the use of communication resources in education;
- to be prepared for networking;
- documentation and training materials for education and pastoral work;
- innovative communications resources.
- documentation and training materials for education and pastoral work;
- communication resources for the mission;
- to network amongst the Salesian Family and with other Church and civic bodies.
- to preserve its heritage;
- access to sources of the history of the Salesian Family;
- updated information on events in the Salesian world;
- information which keeps the world of communications alert, and also keeps alive the formation of critical awareness;
- correct information and good news about youth, education, the Church, religion, society …;
- the diffusion of values for a culture of justice, peace, solidarity and communion;
- new spiritual offerings presented through new media;
- an appeal to people of good will to help us promote our mission to youth.
The desired results are:44.
that young people, especially those who are poor, may understand, master and make critical use of processes, language and communication resources in their relationship with God, people, nature, society, and be informed of developments in evangelisation, the Church, Religious Life, the Congregation, the Province.
that popular environments and missions be served by adequate communication resources for the work of formation and for socio-political, cultural, religious development, and by information and research on youth.
that Salesians be readied for the role of cultural animator and be able to understand and master the new languages of communication, with the support of communication resources for their educational mission, and that they may receive information on the life of the Congregation, the Salesian Family, youth and education, and be resolved to disseminate Salesian beliefs and values.
that the Congregation, with its ecosystem of professional communication be at the service of communion and mission with motivated, stable, and qualified people who have vision and a shared approach; formation and production centres, appropriate tools for information, and an established image as an evangelising and educating institution working in the service of poor youth and the working class, networking with other institutions and groups with similar concerns for young people.
that lay people who share responsibility with Salesians may understand the language of youth, know the preventive system, be formed as cultural animators, and be supported with communication resources for their educational and pastoral work, and be informed about the reality of young people and education.
that the Salesian Family be informed about Salesian history and events and this heritage be preserved; and that its members be supported by communication resources for their educational and pastoral activity.
that Church and society be served by information which keeps the communications world alert (including correct information on youth and education, the Church and religion), and by formation to critical awareness and a culture of peace.
In order to foster the Salesian Social Communication System or ecosystem, certain parties with particular qualities need to be considered:
EDUCATORS interested first and foremost in interpersonal communication between old and young, lay and religious. In the spirit of the preventive system, everyone is committed to developing communication skills, confident and friendly co-existence, relations and cooperation of all kinds.
SALESIAN COMMUNITIES and EDUCATIVE COMMUNITIES, despite the diversity of roles and responsibilities, are together responsible for the development of communication.
PROFESSIONALS with specific roles and responsibilities of communication defined by the organisation, both inside and outside the community.
MANAGERS AND LEADERS at their respective levels and with their respective responsibilities: At the general level of the Congregation, the RECTOR MAJOR AND HIS COUNCIL, THE GENERAL COUNCILLOR FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATION and the DEPARTMENT TEAM;
At the national and/or regional level, the REGIONAL or NATIONAL DELEGATE or COORDINATOR;
At provincial level the PROVINCIAL WITH HIS COUNCIL, the DELEGATE and SC COMMISSION/TEAM;
Locally, the RECTOR AND HIS COUNCIL and the local SC COORDINATOR AND TEAM.
Given that we consider the system to be a true communications ecosystem, and given that enterprises such as radio, television and the humble website are open to the world by nature, we include society as a whole in this list, but more especially society as represented by the outreach (which may be virtual in addition to physical or geographical) of the local Salesian community and its work.
Animation is a fundamental Salesian way of thinking and acting which, among other things, sees application of the measures provided for in the "Guidelines for the Formation of the Salesians in Social Communication," and for the management of communication in educational processes and in internal and external relationships.
Formation enables peoples’ communication skills and the management of communication in educational processes and in internal and external relations of the Congregation.
Salesian information fosters a sense of belonging and communion, education and evangelisation of youth, creating awareness among and mobilising people for Don Bosco’s mission; it also presents an adequate image of the Congregation.
Production aims to produce and support programs, resources, communications enterprises and works, web sites, which serve the educational and pastoral mission to the young. That said, we need to distinguish between the more general activity of production at many levels of communication, and the more particular demands of production at enterprise level.
Communication is developed within the framework of the Salesian mission to youth, a dimension that runs across all educational and pastoral action, as an activity considered at the same level as other Salesian works, and as a field of activity of the mission; it is the management of processes and products that aim to create and enhance Salesian communication environments. Because of the centrality and uniqueness of the mission, Salesian communication also seeks to coordinate with, be in tune with all other sectors of the Salesian mission.
SSCS activities are geared to generating results consistent with Salesian beliefs and values, as well as solidarity and peace in society at large, as a service to charismatic communion in the Congregation and amongst the Salesian Family.
The Congregation’s activity in communication is entirely at the service of the Church’s mission, focused on the education and evangelisation of youth, especially those who are poor, and on the faith of people in popular settings. (cf C. 6)
Advancing communication is everyone’s responsibility, under the leadership and coordination of the Councillor for Social Communication at world level, and Provincials and Delegates at province level. It implies systematic activity, with common and integrated policies and plans as part of the Animation Programme of the Rector Major and his Council and the Overall Province Plan (OPP).
"Social Communication goes beyond the narrow confines of a province. It should therefore be thought of as a network. What can not be done with the efforts of a single Province can be realised with the involvement of several "(AGC 370.41).
"There should be liaison and cooperation (regarding these services) between those in charge of them and the Councillor General for Social Communication" (R. 31). “Publishing houses in the same country or region should devise suitable methods of collaboration, so as to adopt a unified plan” (R. 33).
Along these lines, where there are opportunities and where it is convenient countries, regions, can organise conferences, teams, facilities, or shared services, consultancy and liaison for communication to serve the provinces. These facilities and services are governed by specific statutes or conventions agreed between provinces, with the participation of the Regional Councillor after consultation with the General Councillor for Social Communication.
Communication is advanced when the communicative competencies of individuals and the institution are improved. Competencies (a term much in use amongst educators today) can be objectively assessed. This assessment is guided by parameters or objective indicators to measure the index of achievement of desired outcomes and implementation according to the criteria listed. It all takes place through participation of the people involved, to evaluate the effectiveness of plans and processes begun, and to guide subsequent steps.
The unique character and organic structure of the Salesian mission indicates the possibility and the need for interdepartmental teams (e.g. YM, SC, Missions), especially to contribute to shared activity
Management of animation and communication in the Educational process takes into consideration:
- mass communication, convergent and personal media, especially in terms of social media as vehicles of information and development of - innovative models and new thinking; all this requires careful attention in education.
- the enhancement of communication in the educative community, respecting leadership and participation;
- the production of messages;
- education with media, seen as instruments for use in educational processes generally, media education, which refers to the critical understanding of media, not just as tools but as language and culture, and education for media aimed at training professionals;
- artistic expressions, cultural activities, music, sports and leisure in a typically Salesian style;
- care of the environment in its various aspects;
- openness to "forms of education and evangelisation which emphasise communication as a vital new area of aggregation of young people."
Management of animation and communication in internal relationships takes into consideration:
- the ongoing effort to build a community of people with common vision and shared mission, Salesian spirit and planning, in a family atmosphere which involves everyone: Salesians and lay people (cf in particular GC24 in this regard), educators and their pupils;
- the visibility of the Salesian community as the animating nucleus of a welcoming presence;
- incentives for all activities that promote interchange, facilitate the exchange of experiences;
- an attitude which goes beyond sectoral activities and works, and functional areas (youth ministry, social communication, missions …) at local, provincial and global level;
- fostering unity in the growing diversity of ever-changing cultures and situations, with constant dialogue between the Centre and provinces, so that on the one hand there is understanding and acknowledgement of local situations and problems and, on the other, openness to the universality of the Congregation;
- proximity on the part of the General Administration to Conferences and Provincial groups, planning interventions in local network rather than from above, involving regional or provincial centres and delegates;
Management of animation and communication in external relations takes into consideration:
- care of the Congregation’s public relations;
- care of the institutional and public image of the Congregation;
- assistance to the Rector Major and his Council in general, to provincials and their councils in their own area, in relationships with people, communities, institutions, media, public activities;
- promotion of knowledge of the Congregation by ecclesiastical and civil government, in order to assist the carrying out of the Salesian mission;
- working with the media for the education of youth and dissemination of good news;
- use of whatever opportunities are possible to enter the world of media, learn about media use and positively influence their content;
- liaison and involvement with Church and civic organisations that operate in and coordinate the communication field;
- participation in events and social movements in the communication field that have relationship with education and pastoral ministry.
The formation of Salesians takes into consideration:
- Article 82 of the Regulations: "Our Salesian mission orientates and characterises at all levels the intellectual formation of the members in a way that is original and unique. Therefore the program of studies must preserve a balance between serious and scientific reflection and the religious and apostolic dimensions of our way of life. Those branches of study shall be cultivated with special care which deal with the education of and pastoral work for youth, catechesis and social communication".
- The guidelines of the Ratio (The Formation of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Principles and Norms);
- Awareness and preparedness of confreres so that they can communicate in a professional manner;
- The Guidelines for the formation of Salesians in Social Communication: content and methods for the various stages of formation, joint paper by the Departments for Formation and Social Communication (2006).
The management of formation projects of Salesians and educators considers these three levels (cf. AGC 370, p. 22-25):
General basic level
- deeper appreciation of theological and pastoral grounds for communication;
- the study and implementation of Don Bosco’s preventive system as one of the best expressions of communication and as a baseline for all formation;
- formation for communication skills in educators, beginning with their needs;
- preparation for teamwork and other forms of cooperative learning;
- understanding, critical evaluation of, interaction with media, going beyond the simple requirement of consumers, users;
- critical awareness, and being in tune with languages that convey the culture of young people, such as literature, theatre, music, movies;
- preparation for playing a critical part in today’s ’digital continent’ represented especially by blogs, instant messaging, texting …
The level of animators, and educational and pastoral workers
- the need to understand the culture of a globalised world, but also to being able to contribute to the creation of alternative models of a culture of solidarity;
- interaction with the mass communication system, ensuring the formation of people who are attentive and creative … using media to benefit the whole community;
- competence in the use of language, resources and communication tools for educational and pastoral activities;
- formation of media educators, edu-communicators, cultural leaders.
The level of specialised preparation
- specific technological and professional formation;
- participation in programs of centres for formation to communication.
Running formation projects for young people takes into account:
- formation in interpersonal and group communicative competencies, beginning with their needs;
- formation of cultural leaders;
- formation for critical understanding of media;
- communication and expression in the various languages of theatre, music, dance, folk forms, printing, art, film, TV, Internet …;
- competence in the use of communication language, resources and tools.
Information treated as a fundamental factor in creating Salesian communicative environments and for the necessary mobilisation of society in view of the needs of young people.
Information differentiated and adapted to meet the needs of any specific recipient - an individual or group - in an appropriate and suitable language and medium.
Information consistent with the communication policies and criteria of the Congregation.
The exchange of information and experience encouraged as a growth factor in the sense of unity and belonging to the Congregation and the Salesian Family.
Information which contributes to the support and development of the Project of Animation of the Rector Major and his Council as well as that of the Province and the communities.
Over and above personal contact and knowledge of young people in each community or work area, we focus on a well-documented knowledge of the ever-evolving world of the young. A wealth of information needs to be brought together for a better understanding, an increase in appreciation and a better definition of our service. At the same time we offer this same information to society in order to create opinion and awareness that give rise to policies and activities for youth.
We provide a constantly updated database that gives us rapid, precise and secure information regarding personnel, works and activities, to support the animation and proper functioning of the Congregation as an organisation.
The information area of activity is also concerned with the storage of digital information, which includes the development of policies at different levels to ensure that digital material of value is prepared in such a way that facilitates its preservation. Various digital processes are involved in the conservation of historical and cultural documents of the Congregation, both written and in images (still or moving), sound, or objects, through management of archives, libraries, museums, monuments.
Corporate, institutional image is attended to through correct and complete information which clearly manifests the social significance of Don Bosco’s work. "We labour in economically depressed areas and for poor youth. We collaborate with them educating them to a sense of moral, professional and social responsibility…. we contribute to the development of both people and environment. We share in a way appropriate to religious in the witness and commitment of the Church to justice and peace. While not getting involved in ideologies or party politics, we reject everything that encourages deprivation, injustice and violence, and we cooperate with all who are trying to build a society more worthy of man’s dignity. The advancement to which we dedicate ourselves in the spirit of the Gospel makes tangible the love of Christ which makes men free and is a sign that the Kingdom of God is among us” (C. 33).
Tools, structures and information products are constantly upgraded and professionally qualified, especially:
- Salesian iNfo Agency (ANS) with its network of correspondents in the regions and provinces;
- Public relations services, press offices and official spokespersons;
- Salesian Bulletins;
- Portals and Web Sites;
- Documentation and archival services;
- Provincial newsletters and many other Salesian information products;
- The platform of tools and technological means of communication that allow more timely, cost and energy saving, permanent and personal access to information.
Don Bosco’s educational work bears the imprint of his work as a writer and editor. As an author he wrote devotional, training, education and schooling texts. To support his publishing activities he set up the Society for the dissemination of good press and founded the Printing Press at the Valdocco Oratory.
- The Salesian publishing enterprises are part of the cultural, social and political life of the people, especially young people in ordinary settings, and are open to the cultures of countries where they are to understand them and inculturate the gospel message in them (cf. Constitutions Art. 7).
- Through their activities they help the Congregation play an active role in the process of evangelisation and catechesis, in society, school and culture; they regulate their editorial policy on the relationship between faith and culture as interpreted by the Magisterium; they acknowledge the authenticity of secular values [ or better, ’human’?? ], their autonomy and relevance to the faith, and reject any form of fundamentalism.
- They are a creative and educational presence in culture, paying particular attention to its popular and humanistic dimension, following Don Bosco and the Salesian tradition of education and pedagogy.
- Salesian Publishing operates in the field of education, evangelisation, catechesis, formation and education. These publishers are committed to facilitating the proclamation of the Gospel, accompanying the discovery and development of the faith, facilitating the synthesis between faith and culture, educating to a critical, aesthetic, moral sense, and promote openness to religion. (Cf. Constitutions Art. 31 and 34, Regulations Art 32).
- Following the example of Don Bosco, who gave stability to his publishing business, and as required by the Regulations (No. 31), Salesian Publishing houses are set up on a secure economic and legal basis.
- As for other works in the Province, the Provincial and his Council clearly define the legal structure of the Publishing House in accordance with applicable laws in the country, the owners, the object of its activity, its organisational structure, clear roles, responsibilities and functions. They exercise their continuing duty to monitor and address the situation.
- The owners of the Publishing House should set out in official documentation the core values, guidelines for decisions, policies, actions, scope: the basic reason for the existence of the publishers, the mission, the objectives to be pursued.
- The enterprise will develop a strategy to achieve the mission that was entrusted to it through an assessment of its strengths and weaknesses, its financial and human resources, its innovative capacity, and identify its target market area, core business, develop its strategic plan, as well as a financial and marketing plan, and set out its tasks: who does what, when and how.
We can identify three nuclei of a Salesian web site: identity, purpose, the nature of the medium itself
Vision - Identity
The identity of a Salesian website is charismatic and institutional.
- Charismatic identity can be expressed in terms of: the mission (salvation of youth), a reference to Don Bosco and his appeal as a figure, the term ’Salesian’, a style inspired by the preventive system, a sense of community and the way it creates community
- Institutional identity. There are different levels of institutional identity according to the nature of the website: a site can be ’official’ (of the Congregation, the region or province) or of a work, a sector, a typically Salesian activity. Things such as a logo, the various ’links’ help express this belonging. In an official site it would be normal to include a link to the Congregation’s website.
- A Salesian website always aims at bearing witness to its Christian and evangelising identity.
The purpose of a Salesian website may involve at least animation, formation/education, information (news, videos …), storage (documents, images, sound …), advertising (without too much self-reference). One of these purposes will normally be the main purpose of the site.
The nature of the medium itself
Today we talk about Web 2.0 and tomorrow it may be Web 3.0. A website built a decade ago will not respond to the expectations of today. It is essential that a Salesian website continue to grow.
There is no doubt that this development implies aspects like design, icons, navigability, interactivity, accessibility, also an ability to manage complicated sites in the simplest way, using the tools available today.
The Salesian webmaster belongs to a broad movement which can make its own contribution. That is why we can speak of a ’community of practice’ that should be developed and strengthened:
- We want this community to be developed through dialogue, openness and involvement of all stakeholders;
- The public and private feel of our websites as well as our community of practice require a balance between these two aspects;
- We believe that a Salesian website adds value to what is ’Salesian’ thus helping the broader Salesian community and its mission;
- The community of practice of Salesian webmasters is a welcoming place like a community hall or other similar places;
- Each community has its own rhythms and to the extent to which the community of practice of Salesian webmaster has its rhythms, it will demonstrate its vitality. This community of practice will seek practical approaches in this respect (information sharing, exchange of e-mail, forums or other).
We are radio institutions working with a Salesian style: we evangelise popular and youth culture, educating, guiding, informing and involving.
We promote the formation of associations, the participation of young people and the working classes; we arouse in them a critical sense of reality and help human and Christian values to permeate society.
- Implement educational, cultural and pastoral programs;
- Disseminate specialised programs with an identity founded on the Salesian preventive system;
- Set up youth programs related to production of a Salesian and educational nature after consulting them. This encourages their own production;
- Information that offers support and constructive criticism of society;
- Cooperate in campaigns for the protection and promotion of human rights;
- Aim at self-sustainability of radio and TV with local support and networking projects;
- Promote the Salesian vocation
- Inform, educate and evangelise young people and the working classes using the language of radio;
- Promote culture, education and religion through a ethical quality programming;
- Generate and sustain programs, resources and radio enterprises which serve the educational and pastoral mission to youth;
- Prepare and train professional radio staff in the Salesian charism on a regular basis, to guarantee the quality of the message of evangelisation;
- Engage in social justice and human rights with radio messages for the purpose creating of awareness.
- Disseminate religious values and Salesian pedagogical values creatively by making use of appropriate resources.
- In all areas of the Province, and locally, encourage networking with the Salesian Congregation and the Church.
To ensure the proper functioning of an institutional system it is necessary to identify the various processes that comprise it. These processes are a set of interrelated actions necessary for carrying out the corporate mission of the institution.
The description of the process indicates what must be done and how it must be realised through a variety of activities. This is different from the organisational setup that defines functional areas with their attributes and responsibilities.
The following processes are identified for the SSCS:
- Support: management and services.
The following is a diagram of how SSCS works and a description of the processes.
The planning process ensures the constant updating of SSCS in the light of the the needs of recipients, directing activity to a more effective achievement of objectives (desired results).
The planning process is managed as a strategic condition for promoting SSCS, to guide its development and enhance the convergence of actions which will achieve the desired results.
The SSCS is guided by a Sector Action Plan (SAP) overall, integrated into the Project of Animation of the Rector Major and his Council, and aimed at creating synergy between the provinces and cooperation among specific works for formation and production.
At the provincial level SSCS is driven by a Provincial Social Communication Plan (PSCP) integrated into the Overall Province Plan (OPP), which looks at the specific situations of each Province and tries to apply the Congregation’s communication policy to the Province along with application of the general six year plan drawn up by the Rector Major and his Council
Development aims at fostering the vitality, dynamics, and Salesian style of communication as a dimension running across all educational and pastoral activity in the mission and its works, with its own characteristics and as a specific and integrated communications ecosystem.
The development of communication and the building up of the SSCS are supported by analysis, research, study and reflection activities, and are monitored through assessment, consultation, formation and growth.
The task is to gain better understanding of the Salesian pastoral approach to communication at the service of the Salesian Congregation, the Church and society.
To facilitate this, advisory councils at world and province level are to be created. These are teams of Salesian and lay experts in different fields or areas, coordinated respectively by the General Councillor for Social Communication and the Provincial Social Communication Delegate.
Formation of Salesian and lay specialists in communication is essential to the realisation of the priority assigned to it in the Salesian mission.
Advancement of communication involves maintaining and enhancing the efficiency of the areas of activity: animation, formation, information and production, for an effective implementation of communication in the service of the Salesian mission.
The advancement of communication occurs within the following choices:
- efforts aimed at the formation of people, teams and centres dedicated to developing messages, rather than being concerned about acquiring instruments or managing physical facilities;
- projects aimed at creating communication processes, to serve the Salesian Educative and Pastoral Project (SEPP), charismatic communion and mobilisation for the mission, rather than task-oriented and isolated works.
Processes and structures are to be created with adequate personnel and resources to carry out animation, formation, information and production, at a general and provincial level.
The coordination of communication promotion is to be carried out by the Councillor for Social Communication in general and the Delegate for Social Communication at provincial level.
The Provincial, according to instructions from General Chapter 23, must appoint the Social Communications Delegate, who "will help each community promote communication, will lend his services to various sectors, and will maintain relationships with local Church and civil bodies" (GC23, 259).
The support process ensures the availability and proper management of adequate staff, resources and services needed for SSCS to operate.
The management of this process of support is to be carried out in agreement with the Economer General and/or Provincial Economer.
The management of personnel takes into consideration:
- alignment with the beliefs and values of the Congregation, and commitment to exercising the Salesian mission;
- support and development of a human resources policy that allows the SSCS to rely on a framework of qualified, stable and motivated personnel;
- ongoing formation of people for development of its potential and for their proper placement in the work structure;
- implementation in accordance with legal requirements and regulations.
The management of economic resources and assets takes into consideration:
- availability, appropriate implementation and control of resources needed to achieve the role of SSCS in the Congregation;
- implementation in accordance with existing legal regulations and legal requirements of civil society and the Congregation;
- professionalism in procedures;
- a budget which corresponds to each of the plans.
The management of services takes into consideration:
- the organisation and its working approaches, so that organisational structures are constantly updated and adapted to the desired results within the framework of the Constitutions and Regulations of the Congregation and so that improvements achieved in a given sector or area of the Congregation are shared with others;
- proper operation of computerised systems to guarantee a fast and secure basis on which to make the management decisions needed to achieve the desired results;
- availability of legal support to guide the implementation of SSCS and defend the interests of the Congregation in this area.
The management of language resources and translation takes into consideration:
- ensuring the terminological consistency of Salesian discourse both internally and as addressed to others;
- seeing to the faithful, communicative translation of messages and communications from the Rector Major and his Council, and other bodies of animation, formation and information; ’faithful’ here means fidelity to the original language and context, ’communicative’ here means understandable to readers in their cultural context; promoting standards, especially in textual products of the General Administration.
The DSC supports the management of the Congregation’s linguistic data in collaboration with the Salesian Central Archives, through the digitisation of text, text memory (TM), etc.. The DSC offers its skills and advice to the Salesian Central Archives and others responsible for the management of linguistic data of the Congregation
The DSC in collaboration with the Secretary-General and/or the Vicar of the Rector Major sees to co-ordination of the ’pool’ of translators and offers support services for their task.
The DSC draws up style guides for different situations, for example, the General Administration, for translators in different languages.
Organisation involves the process of identifying and grouping the work to be accomplished: defining and assigning tasks, delegating authority, establishing adequate relationships to enable people to work in teams, seeking the desired results.
The General Councillor:
The General Councillor animates the Congregation in the communications area: encourages action in the communication field and coordinates in particular, at global level, the centres and facilities that the Congregation operates in this field.
188.8.131.52 Details of the role
The General Councillor:
124- raises awareness of the significance of communication and the effectiveness of the communications educational apostolate in the Congregation.
125- accompanies and supports Provincials in the task entrusted to them by Article 31 of the Regulations for advancing social communication.
- maintains the quality of Salesian intervention in the communications area.
coordinates the various areas that make up the Social Communication Department.
coordinates at a worldwide level the centres and facilities that the Congregation operates in the communications field.
sees to application of general planning and integration of the team with all its functions, as well as integration with the Rector Major and his Council and other departments.
The Social Communication Team:? - contributes along with the General Councillor to the advancement of social communication.
The Social Communication Team:
- collaborates constantly with everything concerning the Social Communication Department’s objectives.
- carries out tasks assigned by the Councillor for the conduct of services of the department, such as:
- Press office;
- The Italian Salesian Bulletin;
- Salesian Bulletins;
- Web Portal;
- Documentation and archives;
- Photographic services.
- carries out tasks assigned by the Councillor to conduct the planning process over the six year periods. such as:
- participating in communication events and organisations internal to the Congregation or outside
- coordinating and cooperating with the processes involved in events organised by the Department.
- maintaining and developing the website of the Congregation, located at the General Administration, which is characterised as a portal in the sense of being a niche provider of information and services in the Salesian area. What was said in the ’Production’ section about a Salesian website applies a fortiori to the Congregation’s own website.
The World Advisory Council:
- accompanies the development of the Congregation’s communication, makes assessments, carries out research, studies,draws up guidelines and offers materials for constant updating.
The World Advisory Council:
- gives ongoing advice on communication in the Congregation, particularly to the Social Communication Department.
The various Salesian and lay team members, experts in different areas of animation, formation, information and entrepreneurial activity, collaborate constantly with the Department through their studies and suggestions in response to requests, but also by offering positive suggestions of a spontaneous and personal kind.
The sharing and offering of personal contributions occurs preferably via the Internet. Depending on needs, consultations and meetings may be convened at a regional or world level, with participation of experts in specific areas or with the participation of the whole team.
- encourages teamwork and cooperation among the provinces in the field of communication and joint action, with the broad strategic vision of the mission and of the Congregation.
- accomplishes the task entrusted to him or her by statute or conventions of the regional or conference delegation.
- maintains close liaison and cooperation with the General Councillor for Social Communication and the Department.
- encourages the development and implementation of a common plan of action, and cooperating in the communication area, overseeing the implementation of overall planning in the region or conference.
The Provincial with his Council:
- promotes communication in the province.
The Provincial with his Council:143.
- deals with and monitors the quality of communication within and outside the Province, among the confreres, with the groups of the Salesian Family, the Church and communities and civic and social institutions and groups, among provinces and with the General Council .
- appoints the Provincial Social Communication Delegate, and the Communication Commission or team.
- prepare confreres to be active in press, cinema, radio and television circles.
- establishes and strengthens publishing centres for the production and dissemination of books, periodicals and other materials, and centres of production and broadcasting of audiovisual, radio, television programmes.
- establishes reviewers for publications that require Church review.
- can be a Salesian or lay person and fosters communication in the Province on the Provincial’s behalf. The preference is for the person to be full time.
- collaborates with different teams (depending on the structure that exists on behalf of the Salesian mission to the young in the Province) for an integrated implementation, working in particular in a coordinated way with delegates for other sectors. In the case of Province business operations, enterprises, the delegate ought find appropriate representation, in agreement with the provincial economer, on the board or other management structure.
- collaborates in drawing up and applying the Provincial Social Communication Plan.
- accompanies and animates, to the extent that it is possible, all that relates to communication in the Province:
- the Provincial Council;
- Salesian communities;
- local contacts for communication;
- different areas of communication activities;
- ongoing formation of Salesian confreres in the communications area;
networks with people responsible for each level in the Province, to coordinate the activities of the SSCS, emphasising the Salesian criteria outlined in an earlier part of this section:
- Development and execution of plans at the various provincial and local levels;
- Advancement process and implementation of activities and programs in formation, information and production.
- Integration in the YM Team/Provincial Commission.
- Presence in leadership teams involved with Communications production.
needs an overall perspective that allows him or her to make well-targeted interventions to ensure a balance between the local Salesian information centre and the world centre, in the following areas:
- ANS (Salesian Info Agency): local information (correspondents);
- the production and dissemination of information within the Province and the Salesian Family, tools such as the Provincial Newsletter, - - the Salesian Bulletin, other local products;
- the operation of the website;
- the functioning of the press office;
- an active and positive contact with structures, people and media in the area;
- Salesian image, in terms of quality and quantity;
- the significance of our presence in the media and the press.
- attends communications (SSCS) meetings at different levels (Conference, Region, World), contributing to action in synergy in the Congregation.
- works with Church, religious, governmental and civilian groups involved in communication.
(Provincial Commission or otherwise named)
The Social Communication Team:156.
- contributes, with the Delegate and Province, in the task of advancing communication.
The Social Communication Team:157.
- works as a team within the system, and work constantly with everything concerning the mission in the communication field.
- contributes to the drafting and implementation of provincial plans for animation, formation, consultation in the communication field.
- contributes to the Delegate’s work with information, study, sharing, planning and experimentation.
- assumes the tasks assigned by the Provincial or the Delegate for the conduct and support of works or activities, or participation in events and communication organisations.
- encourages communication for education and evangelisation of youth and popular environments.
The local Coordinator:162.
- fosters communication in the local Community and its work.
The local Coordinator:163.
- works with the youth ministry team in all that concerns the education of young people, and interacts with representatives of other sectors for integrated implementation in the local work.
- cooperates in drafting and applying the local Social Communication Plan.
- provides leadership in everything concerning communication in the work:
- the Educative Community Council;
- Salesian community;
- local communication commission;
- different communication activities.
- coordinates SSCS activities, through effective participation of people holding responsibilities in the area, ensuring that the system works effectively in that it responds to the needs of its beneficiaries and key players, using Salesian criteria:
- drafts and applies plans;
- the advancement process and implementation of activities and programs in formation, information and production.
- activates the local side of Salesian information:
- promotes production and diffusion of information in the work and within the Salesian Family, and sees to instruments like the local newsletters and other typical products;
- accompanies the activities of locals who share responsibility with him or her;
- guides the local website in its operation;
- guides the workings of the press office;
- maintains active and positive contact with structures, people and media in the local area;
- promotes the Salesian image, and in terms of quality and quantity, aims for maximum presence in mass media and press.
- provides ANS (Salesian Info Agency ) - in the Province and in Rome - with local information and then disseminates this information locally, in an intelligent way;
- takes part in Province SSCS meetings, contributing constantly to teamwork.
- works in with Church, religious, governmental, civic groups involved in communication.
- produces Salesian information to feed Salesian media and disseminates its products amongst media, in the service of the Salesian mission.
- is at the disposition of the various bodies in the Congregation (Rector Major, General Council, Departments, Provinces, etc.) to help them make effective use of information and communication as a way of pursuing their objectives of animation and government.
- encourages contact, via information on their various circumstances, between members of the Congregation around the world, as also the member groups of the Salesian Family.
- gathers up the various issues around us and helps the Congregation, Salesian Family and society to read and interpret them according to the Salesian mission.
- contributes to the quality of the Congregation’s information media and media belonging to the Salesian Family member groups. The Agency aims to offer a service to these media to help them give energy to the content and its presentation.
- sees that the Congregation and the Salesian Family is known throughout the world, providing information on relevant factors disseminated to the local Church, and to information media generally.
- highlights the youth and education problems in the world, developing and distributing information products around the world which refer to the situation with youth and education, and which have a Salesian perspective.
- organises and coordinates the network of correspondents in every Salesian geographical area.
- prepares correspondents for professional activity in the information field.
- works in accordance with policies and criteria guiding Salesian communication.
- acts at two levels:
in Rome, and in close collaboration with governing groups in the Congregation and the Saleisan Family, the Agency’s Centre establishes the necessary contacts with International Agencies, worldwide databases, the Vatican and all Salesian communities. Products of a global nature, be they internal or for external consumption, are managed by the centre, then distributed directly to clients or sent out to Provincial Delegates to be then placed with national media.
The Provincial Delegate (province correspondent) for Social Communication, working closely with the Province’s governing bodies, established contacts with information media and agencies at national level, with the Bishops Conference Press Office and with Salesian communities in the Province. The Delegate (personally or through another correspondent) passes on to the Agency’s centre in Rome all information on the Province which may be of interest, and in accordance with criteria and policies already established, distributes information products from the Agency centre to national agencies and information media . The Delegate, who also has responsibilities towards the Agency, drafts and distributes Salesian information of relevance to the local area to local media. Local correspondents, Salesians or members of the Salesian Family in various presences, cooperate in this.
- sees to the production and shipping of ANS products, such as:
- ANSfoto: printed monthly
- ANS website
- Other products as needed
The Press Office:182.
- maintains contacts with information agencies, media and the broader public, to draw attention to youth or educational problems and to look after and defend the image of the Congregation and Salesian activities.
- is a service operating within ANS.
- organises and updates a databank on the Salesian, youth and eudcation situation.
- accompanies information current in the media regarding the Salesian mission, informing those with immediate need to know about this information in the Congregation and interact with the media in this regard.
- establishes contacts with agencies and especially with journalists to provide information on the Salesian mission and mobilise them for the cause of educating youth.
- manages a communication and marketing plan for the Congregation’s (or Province’s) image.
- organises reports from governing individuals in the Congregation for various media levels, and viceversa.
- manages official relations of the Rector Major and his Council with the Congregation, and of the Congregation for external consumption, at the general level, and for the Provincial and his Council at Province level.
The Rector Major has responsibility – which in particular cases he delegates to his Vicar, the Secretary General, official spokesperson or others – for the official relations between the Council and the Congregation and between the Congregation and the outside world, especially in the case of the Apostolic See, the Union of Superiors General (USG), other Institutes and Congregations, other institutions and bodies either Church or civic, especially for making statements or taking a position on behalf of the Congregation.
The Provincial and his Council define how this works at Province level, in agreement with the press office.
The Salesian Bulletin:192.
- spreads Don Bosco’s spirit, makes Salesian work and its needs known, links and encourages different groups in the Family, foster vocations helping the Salesian movement grow, and encouraging collaboration in the mission.
The Salesian Bulletin:193.
- is produced according to directives from the Rector Major and his Council, and appears in various editions and languages as a general organ of Salesian work, and not as a particular one for each region.
- has as its purpose to incarnate the values of the unique Salesian vocation in different cultural areas.
- is a magazine in function of the mission, addressed to public opinion more than the institution. this means sensitivity to locating itself in the world that people and the Church experience today, and offering a Salesian ’reading’ of this, especially where youth and education are concerned.
The Social Communication Department sets up a central coordinating service to:
- coordinate the renewal process (accompaniment, animation and articulation);
- guide the information policy and planning over the six year period;
- set up plans for accompaniment, formation and support for management, and to extend its dissemination;
- link the various SBs through the web site.
This service has an advisory council made up of specialists in the area.
The Web Portal:198.
- manages Internet resources for information, formation, sharing, in service of the project of animation and government of the Congregation, as a source of information on the Salesian charism and as a tool for mobilising society for the cause of youth.
The Web Portal:199.
- is a navigation platform for the Internet which offers a niche opportunity, tools and services, such as: language choice, search engine, Intranet, links, chat… and specialised information on education and evangelisation of the young.
200.The DSC manages the General Administration’s portal:
- facilitating interaction between the Centre and the Provinces, and maintains an updated list of Salesian websites;
- maintaining an adequate structure of people and technological means for this interactive function;
- forming people for this interaction;
- playing an animating role with other Salesian webmasters around the world.
201.The Delegate, at Province level, provides Salesian guidance and a professional orientation for the websites in the Province, in conformity with the Congregation’s general communication policy.
Documentation and archives:202.
- gather, preserve and make available documentation on the Salesian charism, experience and work.
Documentation and archives:
At a general level responsibility for the Salesian General Archives (ASC) belongs to the Secretary General; it functions in accordance with the “Central Archives Regulations”.
The Archives bring together historical records, i.e. material no longer in use or for current consultation, but available however when requested.
Another section is the photographic archives, which keeps photographs and film/video of a historical or current nature. The one in charge of this archives makes available materials for communication publication and for various other documentation purposes.
The Social Communication Department also manages the Department’s archives and archives of its various services (ANS, SB, Portal), as well as databases and documentation for current consultation purposes.
The Social Communication Department may offer specific competencies to the Secretary General or those in charge of the various sections of the ASC regarding preservation policies and strategies, especially those involving technical and digital aspects.
The Provincial Newsletter:208.
- sees to the circulation of current Salesian information amongst Salesian communities, Educative communities and the Salesian Family. This serves communion, shared experiences, growth in a sense of belonging, and creative renewal.
The Provincial Newsletter:209.
- produces information at the service of the Province Animation Plan for the various sectors in their educational and pastoral organisation.
- offers information, within the details of this plan at Province level, on:
- the Province’s history;
- history of the Salesian charism: offering a re-reading of the Salesian charism in the Province, without just being a chronology of - events past, present or to come;
- proposes collaboration and vocational commitment (in its broad sense) to lay people who share Don Bosco’s style.
- offers information on the vitality of the communities and works in the Province. It should not be just an historical collection, or a press review, nor just a list of Salesian or Church documents.
- offers the more relevant items of interest to the Salesian world.
- contribute to the Salesian mission by forming teachers, researchers, experts and other workers in the communications field, keeping a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical skills.
- have various profiles: universities (therefore academic) or informal education (with various kinds of programmes and timetables).
How each centre is to function is guided by a specific Salesian educative and pastoral plan and by action plans which respond to the concrete needs of all those involved, integrated into the Overall Province Plan (OPP).
The DSC fosters mutual collaboration between centres for formation to communication using the following guidelines, activities or strategies:
- works in tune with the Formation and Youth Ministry Departments;
- researches elements of understanding and cooperation amongst faculties of communication belonging to IUS and various formation centres;
- gives a formation response to the question of edu-communication and professional formation.
Content and method for the various formation stages
Rome, 24 May, 2006
Social communication has always been seen as an urgent and necessary field of formation in the Congregation. Given its importance for Salesian life and mission, from the 90’s onwards there have been efforts to offer a formation programme for the different stages, especially for those in initial formation. The impetus for these Guidelines results from a range of factors coming together: the promulgation of the new Ratio in 2000, GC25’s practical choice in 2002 to have a General Councillor exclusively for the Social Communications Department, indications in the Rector Major and Council’s Plan, that a formation curriculum for social communication be drawn up, the request by the World Advisory Council for Social Communication in 2004, the publication of the “Salesian Social Communication System” guidelines at the beginning of 2005, and finally the Rector Major’s Letter published in AGC 2005. The Guidelines which you now have in hand are the result of collaboration between the Departments of Social Communications and the fruit of a Congregation-wide consultation, especially amongst those with competence in social communications, and amongst formators. Their inspiration is based on Church documents relevant to social communication, on our Constitutions and Regulations, and on interventions in the shape of Letters of Rectors Major: Fr Viganò (AGC 289), Fr Vecchi (AGC 370 and 366), Fr Chavez (AGC 387 and 390). Finally, they take account of experiences which have matured in various Provinces and areas of the Congregation.
Those for whom it is intended
THE GUIDELINES FOR THE FORMATION OF SALESIANS IN SOCIAL COMMUNICATION are meant for the same people and groups who were given the RATIO, namely: All Salesians, but especially Provincials and their Councils, Delegates and members of Formation and Social Communication Commissions, formators and those being formed, all those responsible for initial and ongoing formation of Salesians.
The purpose of these “Guidelines” is the formation of the Salesian to becoming a “good communicator” (FSDB 252) with special reference to the area of social communication. To be a good communicator requires a capacity for critical reception and creative production of information and messages; at the same time it demands a capacity for animation and management of social communication in educational and pastoral processes; it demands a capacity for interaction and relationships in social communication within and beyond the Congregation. The area of social communication concerns the various mass and personal media, such as press, cinema, radio, television, internet, DVD, mobile phones, … ; it includes all interactions in society or in a cultural grouping, such as theatre, music, advertising, public relations; it extends to a consideration of culture and especially the anthropological model created and spread by the media.
It is to be noted that these Guidelines focus on formation and not mainly on “training”, because they are meant not only to achieve a degree of ability and technical understanding in the one being formed, but his transformation as a person, including his attitudes and critical sense.
It is appropriate also to recall two paragraphs here (no. 56 and no. 68) from the “Salesian Social Communications System” guidelines which reflect on aspects to do with formation: where it says that social communication is developed within the framework of the Salesian mission to youth, a dimension that runs across all educational and pastoral action (no. 56), and, where it speaks of formation references in social communication (no. 68).
Following what the Magisterium of the Church and the documents of the Congregation say, the “Salesian Social Communication System” in no. 69 specifies what the three formation levels are.
The first level, basic, focuses on formation of the receivers.
This deals with:
- educating the Salesian to a critical sense and forming his awareness so he can be freed from the subtle suggestions and manipulations of the media;
- equipping him to make free and responsible choices, using mass media not only for enjoyment, but especially for information and formation, for an harmonious cultural and social growth;
- teaching the technical details of individual media, necessary for a correct “reading” and an objective understanding of their communication;
- creating an awareness of the social, cultural, political and economic implications which lie behind the messages and values proposed by the media, giving special attention to the relationship between media and advertising, ideology and political power;
- seeing to the aesthetics of communication by taking up art, literature and music in a communicative key; this means developing an interest in cultural presentation in general; competence in and appreciation of fine arts; a study of the music of the young in order to understand their problems, their language, their dreams, and to be able to dialogue with them and search with them; reading at least some pages of modern literature.
The second level focuses on the preparation of educational and pastoral workers.
This deals with:
- equipping the Salesian for the correct use of the various social communication media in educational and pastoral activity;
- forming Salesians and laity in the use of social communication for teaching and in education, in catechesis and preaching, in the - fostering of peace and development and in giving a voice to the needs of the poor;
- sensitising and preparing the Salesian to integrate the Gospel with the “new culture” created by modern social communication.
The third level concerns the preparation of specialists in social communication whose task is on behalf of the entire provincial community which needs to:
- prepare some confreres who show a special inclination, so they can be experts in teaching this social communications;
- prepare some people for working in production in this media field and for exercising their competence in the management and animation of province enterprises in this field.
Initial formation is aimed at the first and second levels; these are brought up to date in ongoing formation and for some it includes achieving the third level.
Proposals for each formation stage
For each stage of initial or ongoing formation, these guidelines offer a brief summary of what the Ratio says concerning the nature and scope of that stage.
Then it highlights certain formation aspects in the stage, which are particularly relevant to social communication at this stage. It deals with the aims of formation to social communication, presented not in an abstract way but by way of directions to be taken up. This is followed by proposed study topics to encourage a theoretical reflection on the significance of the media, its social role, its languages and a critical use. The contents involved in the study can be better organised once one has taken into consideration what the RATIO STUDIORUM says about the different stages.
Finally, experiences to exercise and some competencies to acquire, to help the following up of aims indicated. Obviously these experiences are not to be restricted to just the stage under consideration, but are something to be continued and looked into more thoroughly in the stages that follow, as indeed are the competencies needing to be gradually acquired. This part - experiences and competencies – will need to be understood in greater depth and above all exercised. It requires, then, that support materials be offered; these will be offered in due course.
For each formation stage then, we find: a summary of the nature and scope of that stage, its aims concerning social communication, study and reflection topics, experiences and competencies.
Our thanks go to everyone who has helped in putting these Guidelines together. It is our hope that they can be of real help in forming Salesians, that they can be a common departure point for fruitful experience, and that they contribute to cooperation between the Province Delegates and Commissions for Formation and Social Communication.
Fr Francesco Cereda, General Councillor for Formation (2006)
Fr Tarcísio Scaramussa, General Councillor for Social Communication (2006)
1.1 The prenovitiate is that stage of formation in which the candidate to Salesian life deepens his vocational choice, maturing especially in his human and Christian aspects, so as to be suitable to begin the novitiate.
1.2 As part of this Christian and human growth, the candidate needs to:
- be open to the social and cultural reality in his setting and in the world of social communication;
- be especially sensitive to the problems of poor and marginalised youngsters, situations of poverty, injustice and exclusion;
- be mature concerning the reality of life, and grow in a sense of compassion and solidarity which shows itself through a simple lifestyle (cf. FSDB 338);
- begin to develop a serious critical capacity which makes him capable of respectful and objective judgments about people and events and which enables him to take a position on the cultural models offered by the media;
- (then he will) know how to critically read and responsibly use the social communication media (cf. FSDB 69);
- mature in a calm affectivity and exercise vigilance in his own life, practising custody of the senses and making discreet and prudent use of social communication media (cf. FSDB 65);
1.3. Certain study topics are recommended to the candidate as an introduction to social communication:
- what is communication;
- forms of communication;
- models of communication;
- language of sign and symbol;
- social communication;
- audio-visual culture;
- history of social communication.
1.4. The following experiences to be exercised and competencies to acquire, finally, are suggested for the candidate:
- developing proper attitudes and communicative competencies: listening, speaking, writing, reading in public, receiving feedback;
- acquiring according to each one’s capacity, artistic, dramatic, musical ability;
- learning to make good use of the computer and the internet, if not already able to do so;
- being interested in media such as press, magazines, newspapers;
- educating oneself to the appropriate use of free time and to responsible choice of television programmes and internet;
- knowing how to appreciate and to critically evaluate media and social communication products;
- accustoming oneself to making good use of newspapers, radio, tv, newsletters, bulletins;
- undertaking analysis and discussion of news, especially of matters concerning youth and ordinary people, and today’s cultural and multicultural challenges for the Church, especially in fields of peace, justice, solidarity, work, the family.
2.1. The novitiate is the beginning of the Salesian religious experience as a follower of Christ. The novice begins to live consecrated and apostolic life, interiorising Salesian values.
2.2. As part of this practical exercising of Salesian life, the novice:
- continues to cultivate self-control and temperance, and to strengthen the motivations for his choices (cf. FSDB 359);
- adopts such attitudes with regard to social communications media;
- develops a strong attachment to Don Bosco, to the Congregation, to the Salesian Family and to the Salesian Movement (cf. FSDB 362);
- discovers a meaningful field of action in social communication that forms part of the apostolic priorities of the Salesian mission;
- grows in a strong sensitivity towards the Salesian mission amongst poor young people, and keeps himself informed about this;
- nurtures an attentiveness to the world’s needs, a lively sense of Church;
- therefore nurtures a true missionary attitude in himself (cf. FSDB 366);
2.3. The development of some of the following study themes forms part of his education to social communication:
- Don Bosco teacher of communication;
- references in the Constitutions and Regulations to social communication;
- the Congregation’s developments in the field of social communication from the SGC to our own time.
2.4. The following experiences to be exercised and competencies to acquire are suggested for the novice:
- using the “space” for his freedom and responsibility provided in the novitiate in reference to to social communication media, for measuring himself, exercising his personal autonomy, making discreet and prudent use of the media with a critical attitude, reflecting on the choices he has made;
- developing appropriate attitudes for communication: photos, video, theatre, music, news sheets, internet, drawing;
- using the media for listening to and meditating on the Word of God, in the sharing of faith and prayer in the group and in liturgy, in novitiate apostolic experiences;
- taking active part in forums and other similar exercises for analysing, discussing and critically judging shows and messages, especially those with marked or controversial views about the mission of the Church and the Congregation towards the young;
- being in touch with social communication in the Congregation and the Salesian Family: The Salesian Bulletin, ANS, the www.sdb.org site in Rome, newsletters, etc.;
- developing the sense of belonging to the Congregation through a reading of Salesian news.
3.1. The postnovitiate is the stage where the newly professed Salesian strengthens his own vocational growth and gets ready for practical training, gradually integrating faith, culture and life through a deeper understanding of the experience of religious life and Don Bosco’s spirit, and an appropriate philosophical, pedagogical and catechetical preparation in dialogue with culture (cf. C 114).
3.2. A part of the postnovitiate formation, then, is the fact that he:
- gains a capacity for a serious relationship with culture, with the world of young people, with problems of education, with the Christian viewpoint (cf. FSDB 401);
- acquires a broad and at the same time critical understanding of social communication, knowing how to read, critically evaluate and interact with media, information and modern advertising, and is able to grasp its social and psychological effects in ordinary settings, and on the young;
- achieves a certain competence in the techniques of various kinds of social communication, with a view to knowing how to use these for educating and evangelising the young (cf. FSDB 410);
3.3. Since intellectual formation is the characteristic aspect of this stage, the postnovice takes on studies in the social communication field:
- theory of communication and social and psychological problems of social communication;
- kinds of communication, in particular, new technologies: press, radio, TV, internet;
- the culture produced by social communication;
- media education;
- applications of social communication to the different areas of catechesis, liturgy, pastoral activity in general, teaching and cultural animation.
3.4. These studies are accompanied by different experiences to be exercised and competencies to acquire which serve to put what is learned at school into practice:
- developing attitudes for social communication in regard to photographs, video, theatre, journalism, computer programmes, drawing, posters, noticeboards, music, audiovisuals;
- taking part in analysis and discussion groups which evaluate products offered by mass media with a Christian and critical sense, especially with regard to content and language of news, advertising, newspapers, film, video and internet and video games, and that reflect on the globalisation of information;
- knowing the language and jargon of the young; bringing to life amongst themselves the Salesian approaches to theatre, feasts, academies, courses, …;
- involvement in producing information services whether they be at local or province level.
4.1. Practical Training is the stage of vital and intense coming to grips with Salesian activity, brought about within pastoral and educative experience, which helps the confrere to mature in his Salesian vocation and to ascertain his vocational suitability for perpetual profession. (cf. FSDB 428-429);
4.2. Because of its nature, practical training has no real curriculum of studies. It is an experience, or better, the whole set of different experiences of Salesian life and activity, amongst which the responsible use of social communication and its employment for the formation, education and evangelisation of young people. In particular the practical trainee can take into consideration and check what the “Salesian Social Communication System” has to say in no. 51 with reference to those responsible for social communication and the animation of social communication in educational processes.
4.3. It calls for a reflection or practical trainees sharing their experiences and, when possible, some short programmes dealing with social communication within the framework of a pedagogical, methodological, educational or catechetical formation. FSDB 433). For example some reflection could be useful on aspects such as: presence amongst the young from the point of view that McLuhan offers in his “Medium as message”; edu-communication in pastoral and educative experience; globalisation of the media and its influence on the choices and the style of religious life.
5.1. Specific formation is the formation stage which completes the basic formation of the Salesian pastor and educator along the lines of his specific vocation as brother or priest.
5.2. It is, then, a part of this formation for the Salesian to:
- have a solid basis of convictions concerning the social communication field;
- be ready to be the educator, teacher and guide for others, teaching how to use critical tools for reading, understanding and evaluating texts and messages offered and often imposed by the mass media;
- be able to be a pastor in the social communication field, wisely and professionally employing the techniques and processes of modern communication at small and large group level, and integrating the Gospel with the culture of the media.
5.3. On the one hand, then, some studies are needed to offer a theoretical frame of reference:
- theology of communication;
- Church documents on social communication;
- social communication ministry with attention to ethics in communication and pastoral problems associated with youth cultures (cf. FSDB 468);
5.4. On the other hand, the one in formation is invited to avail himself of certain experiences to be exercised and competencies to acquire:
- involvement in the use of information technologies and the internet;
- using the techniques of social communication in homiletics, liturgical praxis, ministry, catechesis, and in general in the world of work and in ministerial service, and being involved in making “media education” programmes for the young;
- learning to speak to local radio and TV, to prepare a press conference, to give an interview or interview someone, to prepare a homepage or web site, to write articles and various other publications; it is not essential for the one being formed to have all these abilities; it is enough for him to command one or two of the techniques, to be able to better understand, from a particular point of view, the rules of audiovisual language, which are, in reality, the same techniques for all the media; it is enough to give serious attention to one or two of these techniques;
- using some of the instruments and languages of modern social communications media for proclaiming the Gospel, but also for passing on the Gospel message in the culture of modern media itself; this approach means that the Gospel becomes easier to understand for today’s young people and becomes part of their culture (cf. FSDB 466);
- choosing dialogue with media professionals, for example on the occasion of World Social Communication Day; this provides the opportunity to directly appreciate the difficulties which the professionals come up against, their ideals and limitations, ethical problems, and the questions they pose for people of the Church.
6.1. Continuing formation is the continuation, the completion and the updating of initial formation: it has as its scope the living of the Salesian apostolic project with an energy which is both joyful and creatively faithful.
6.2. This demands, amongst other things, that the confrere:
- experience his encounter with the reality of social communication with openness and intelligence;
- becomes capable in the new languages and in a more attentive listening to the world and to youth culture;
- possesses solid criteria of discernment which are consistent with a Christian viewpoint, with ecclesial and Salesian guidelines, and with the Salesian charism (cf. FSDB 528-529);
- even at an advanced age, seeks to keep up to date in the social communications field and with new technologies;
- is prepared and up-to-date in the social communication field to the level required for adequately facing up to his educational and pastoral service, and that he achieve this with a capacity for animation and guidance of people, projects, works (cf. FSDB 523, 528);
be able to form the laity and also to form himself together with them (cf. FSDB 529, 542);
- accepts his superiors’ request and specialises in social communication to render a competent service to the Province and to the Congregation (cf. FSDB 542, 556) in the case where he has the necessary gifts and where it also corresponds with the needs of the Province.
6.3. During this period (of continuing formation) there are no formal courses, except in the case of those asked to qualify themselves in social communication. Salesians may take part in study and reflection days together with the Salesian Family and lay helpers. These would be on the Universal or Local Church’s guidelines, or guidelines of the Congregation concerning social communication, and on important or emerging topics in this field; amongst these we indicate those regarding new educational technologies; forming public opinion; catechesis, evangelisation and new languages; psychology and sociology of social communication; institutional communication and public relations.
6.4. Apostolic initiatives in the social communication field are themselves formative experiences for the Salesian confrere, especially when they include reflection on activities already carried out. Here are some of the more important items:
- taking part, together with lay people in the EPC or the Salesian Family, in initiatives aimed at reflection and a deeper understanding of certain aspects of social communication, dealing with experiences;
- being engaged in the specific formation of leaders and animators, especially amongst the Salesian Family, in the field of social communication for school, free time and associations, by organising reflection groups, study days and specific activities for helping them to have a reading and critical appreciation of social communication media;
- being directly involved professionally, according to one’s own competence and the Provincial’s request, in the world of the mass media, by creating, enabling and animating our production and distribution centres for books and magazines, or by managing social communication media which belong to the Congregation: Radio stations, television channels, “video clubs” with special attention to families and to ministry.
Note: In the first edition of SSCS prepared by the then General Councillor for Social Communication, Fr Tarcisio Scaramussa, the section below formed part of the introduction. Its contents are of particular historical value. The numbering has altered (in the original it began with no. 13) because some items have been pulled out and relocated in the new SSCS text.
This comprehensive overview demonstrates that the Congregation has built up a true SYSTEM of Social Communication
The term Communication System gained its first use through Fr Antonio Martinelli in preparation for the World Gathering of Salesian Bulletin directors (1998).23 He defines it as an “integrated and unified communication project”.
The term system was used by Fr Vecchi (2000) to call attention to the pervasive aspect of Social Communication throughout Salesian presence: “Our communities, works and activities, to which we give rise like every institution, become part of a much wider system of communication, within which they are compared and interact. They seem silent, physical realities; but in fact they are sending out messages even before we have put pen to paper or taken a microphone to say who we are or talk about ourselves. It is indispensable, therefore, to attend not only to what is realised within the work; We must keep in mind the image it creates, the reflection our action produces outside the work. Building materials speak through their sober appearance and good taste; the kind of young person prevailing in the work is already saying something; so is the programme and educational style; the environment experienced directly or by other means, is already speaking. And as a result of our communication in and with the context, what we are doing can be expanded or be negatively conditioned”.24 He then adds: “It is absolutely essential to consider our presence, community and Salesian work as a network of inter-connected communication”.25
“Building a unified and integrated communication system” is a primary task indicated in the Delegate’s Handbook,26 which insists on the integration of Social Communication within the dynamics of provincial organisation.
Finally, ‘The Project of Animation and Government of the Rector Major and his Council for the Six year period 2002-2008’ outlines the general aim of “building and gradually setting up a system of communication of the Salesian Congregation that is professional, stable but flexible”:27
- to stimulate the creation of a “communications ecosystem”28 involving everyone (Salesians SDB, Salesian Family, teachers, students) in the Salesian spirit and mission, at Congregational, Provincial and community level;
to direct and guide the relationships of communication and sharing amongst those who make up the General Administration, and between them and the Provinces;
- to stimulate charismatic communion within – with a sense of belonging primarily to the Congregation, beyond one’s own province – and with the Salesian Family, by means of accurate information;
- to ready Salesians and lay partners to be cultural workers, with a positive and accepting approach to and a familiarity with the use of instruments and techniques of communication ordered to the carrying out of the educative and pastoral mission;
- to offer a response to the demand for communication and the preparation of the young in this field;
- to develop in the Congregation a sense of Social Communication as a mission field and a space where young people gather (GC25, 47), sustaining the belief that mass communication and the development of information technology are vehicles for innovative models and new mentalities (GC25, 3) – cultural models;
- to see to specialised services of communication and information tied to the Salesian mission, giving impetus to a strong mobilisation of society;
- to present the Congregation to public opinion more effectively.
The Salesian Social Communication System of the Congregation aims to respond to the complexity as well as the energy of Social Communication in its many expressions and meanings. The simple creation of a communications sector does not serve such a vision. The communication system is placed at the service of the institution’s entire project, with the objective of involving everyone in a shared vision of values and mission.
The Salesian Social Communication System is conceived of as a unified and integrated project, with a shared vision of values and mission which is distinctly Salesian, with planned policies and actions in the areas of animation, formation, information and production, and with a management of organisational structures and communication processes networked with the various sectors within the Congregation and the Salesian Family, and externally, with Church organisations and those locally and in society, taken broadly.
The functions of animation and formation in the System are aimed at enabling and forming communicative competence in people, and at managing Social Communication in educational processes as well as in the internal and external relations of the Congregation, using the criteria of Don Bosco’s Preventive System; awareness of the value of Social Communication as something that begets culture, and leads us to the priority of choosing to form personnel. The personnel policy considers the need to form cultural educators and communicators, and is also concerned with preparing people professionally, Salesians and laity, for the Social Communication task. For those being educated, the project foresees the development of interpersonal and group communicative competence starting from their needs; formation for a critical understanding of the media; communication and expression in the various ‘languages’ of theatre, music, dance, printed material, art, cinema and TV, Internet; competence in the use of language, and of the resources and instruments of Social Communication. The Congregation develops formation programmes, but also sets out ad hoc structures, such as specific courses in Salesian University Institutions (IUS), in Technical Schools and in Social Communication Centres.
The information function of the System is directed to the production of Salesian information which promotes communion and a sense of belonging; education and evangelisation of the young; developing a mentality and mobilising for Don Bosco’s mission, forming Salesian opinion on youth and educational questions. It is also directed to presenting an adequate image of the Congregation. To achieve these purposes certain regular operational channels have been developed, amongst which:
- The Salesian International Information Agency (ANS), with its network of correspondents and many information products for world, provincial and local communities;
- the press offices;
- The Salesian Bulletin is a magazine full of vitality still, more than a century after it was created.
- Province Newsletters, portals, web sites now seen everywhere, consolidating the network and making Salesian information available.
The production function of the System sees to production and support of programmes, resources, archives and Social Communication enterprises at the service of the educative and pastoral mission to the young. Promoting mutual collaboration and networking between business enterprises forms part of this function. This is a much developed field in the Congregation, which can count more than 300 such enterprises (between bookshops, publishers, theatre and cinema halls, print-works, radio and TV broadcasting, audiovisual centres), as well as production centres for local media programmes.
A new call has come from the Rector Major Fr Pascual Chávez: “Dear confreres, we must undergo a ‘pastoral conversion’. In these past ten years we have worked much, but now the Church and history are asking us for an even greater impulse in understanding of our times and for an even wiser and more courageous vision of our apostolate. May Don Bosco give us light and courage to be able to be competent and credible educators, evangelisers and communicators, as required by the mission today.”29
06 – “We are educators of the faith for the working classes, particularly by means of social communication” 43 – “We work in the Social Communication sector. This is a significant field of activity which constitutes one of the apostolic priorities of the Salesian mission. Our Founder had an instinctive grasp of the value of this means of mass education, which creates culture and spreads patterns of life; he showed great originality in the apostolic undertakings which he initiated to defend and sustain the faith of the people. Following his example we utilise as God’s gift the great possibilities which social communication offers us for education and evangelisation.”
84 – (Chastity) discreet and prudent use of the means of Social Communication.
59 - …communication and exchange of information about the work of the confreres, all increase this communion, deepen the sense of belonging and dispose us to give our service to the world community.
137 – the General Councillor for social communication has the duty of animating the Congregation in this sector. He promotes Salesian activity in the Social Communication sector and in particular coordinates at world level the structures and centres for which the Congregation has responsibility in this field.
06 – Communication in our pastoral service.
31 – Role and duty of the Provincial with his Council.
32 – Educating the young to Social Communication
33 – Enabling information channels in the Congregation and the Salesian Family.
34 – Ecclesiastical revision of publications.
44 – In communities, vigilance with Social Communication media
66 – Prudence in use of media as regards chastity.
82 - Social Communication in integral formation of the Salesian
142 – Tasks of the Provincial Conference in preparing Salesians in Social Communication.
Observation: besides numbers indicated there are others listed in the alphabetical indexes of the documents
GC20 – 1971/72 (Doc. 6: nos. 442 a 462) Cultural and educational realities of primary importance: Basis for art. 43 of the Constitutions.
GC21 – 1978 (nos. 148-153) Signalling: need for a leap forward! Social Communication: a way to evangelise.
GC22 – 1984 (nos. 73-75) Strengthening of identity and of practical orientation: the renewed Constitutions of SGC in their final version and approval from the Holy See, The Department for Social Communication with its own Councillor is born.
GC23 – 1990 (nos. 254-260) The journey of faith of the young requires of the community a new form of communication. The provincial appoints the province person responsible (Delegate).
GC24 – 1996 (nos. 128-137) One of the areas of Salesian commitment for the future: Re-reading the Salesian commitment in the light of communication; maturing and adequate cultural and spiritual attitudes for those who wish to communicate; at province level and local level animation to be re-enforced through the Delegate’s service; evaluation of quality of communications.
GC25 – 2002 - new and vital gathering space for the young (n. 47). Putting in place the Councillor for Social Communication (n. 133). A reading of the Chapter from the point of view of communication helps us see many aspects: the authentic image of the community: witness of fraternal life which is a response to the deep need for communication on the part of the young (7) Interpersonal relations in the community (nos. 13-15) communicative presence amongst the young in the local area (nos. 37-48) communication in society – new demands of the mission: acting in defence and for promotion of youth (nos. 103, 140) Communication in institutional relations at province and world level (nos. 111, 159)
GC26 - 2008 - We also feel questioned by the new technologies of social communication and the educational challenges they pose. Today’s communication opportunities have become an habitual way for young people to meet, exchange ideas, and get involved quickly and with great mobility, but also in an impersonal and virtual way. The culture of personal media can compromise one’s ability to mature in personal relationships and exposes young people especially to the danger of very negative encounters and dependencies; this is the “playground” where we need to be present in order to listen, enlighten, guide. (no. 99); Sensitivity to and involvement on the part of the Congregation in Social Communications has grown. Signs of this are, for example, the setting up of the Faculty of Communication Sciences at the UPS, the putting into place of various projects of education to critical use of media, the growing presence of our websites on the internet, the greater familiarity we have with computer networks whether for personal exchanges or for distance education, and the new arrangements for the Department of Social Communication. We are nevertheless aware that there are very many virtual worlds inhabited by the young and that we are not always capable of sharing and animating them because of our lack of formation, time and sensitivity. (no. 102); moving from: a timid attitude and sporadic presence in media, to one of responsible use and a more incisive educative and evangelising animation;(no. 104); Let the community: plan educative projects to help young people to a critical and responsible use of various kinds of media (mass, folk, personal, convergent etc.) and encourage their active involvement in the social communication field and in youthful and popular forms of expression; use the technologies of social communication to give greater visibility to their presence in order to spread the charism. (no. 109); Let the province: lay down a realistic strategy which favours a more incisive presence in the media world, as well as youthful and popular artistic expression, and prepare qualified personnel in this area; Let the Rector Major with his Council: reflect, through the Departments for Social Communication, Formation and Youth Ministry, on the new challenges of the culture of personal media for formation of Salesians, the preparation of the laity, and to help the young; (no. 109).
Acts of the General Council – 1977-2006
Letters of the Rector Major:
1977, AGC 287 (p. 3-33): Fr Luigi Ricceri: “Family news” – on Salesian information, commemorating the centenary of the Salesian Bulletin.
1981, - AGC 302 (p. 3-30): Fr Egidio Viganò: “Social Communication challenges us". SC in the mission, as a novel presence. Formation to SC. Promoting information.
2000, AGC 370 (p. 3-44): Fr Juan Vecchi: “Communication in the Salesian mission”.
2005, AGC 390 (p. 3-46): Fr Pascual Chávez: “With the courage of Don Bosco on the new frontiers of social communication”. Guidelines and Directives:
1981, AGC 302 (p. 31-50): Fr Giovanni Raineri: “Don Bosco’s thinking as a programme for Salesian Publishing”.
1985, - AGC 315 (p. 50-59): Fr Sergio Cuevas: “The Salesian Bulletin”.
1989, - AGC 329 (p. 28-38): Fr Sergio Cuevas: “Salesians: communication and education.
1991 - AGC 338 (p. 55-64): Fr Antonio Martinelli: "Social Communication: deliberation n. 6 of GC23”. “The journey of faith of the young demands from the community a new form of communication” (254). “The Provincial appoints the province person responsible for Social Communication” (259).
1993, - AGC 346 (P. Fr Antonio Martinelli: “The province’s commitment to organising the Social Communication sector”.
1996 – AGC 358 – special number (p.. 29-32): Planning for the six year period.
1997 - AGC 361 (p. 50-59): Fr Antonio Martinelli: "An eloquent Salesian presence: The Salesian Bulletin”.
1999 - AGC 366 (p. 100-118): Fr Juan Vecchi: Planning intervention for directors of the Salesian Bulletin (Rome)
2000 - AGC 370 Fr Antonio Martinelli: “Discovering the urgency of Communication” (SC in General Chapters – from GC 19 to GC 24).
2002 – AGC 380 – special number (p. 46-51) – Planning for the six year period
2004 – AGC 387 – Fr Pascual Chávez, Message to members of the Salesian World Advisory Body for Social Communications Rome, 25 July 2004
2005 - AGC 390 (p. 47-56): Fr Tarcisio Scaramussa: "Guidelines for Salesian Publishing”. Documents and notices.
2005 - AGC 390 (p. 3-56): Fr Pascual Chávez: “With the Courage of Don Bosco on the New Frontiers of Social Communication”.
RATIO – 2000
Delegate’s handbook, now known as “The Salesian, Communicator” but under revision.
"New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship."
[Sunday, 24 May 2009 ]
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
In anticipation of the forthcoming World Communications Day, I would like to address to you some reflections on the theme chosen for this year - New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship. The new digital technologies are, indeed, bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships. These changes are particularly evident among those young people who have grown up with the new technologies and are at home in a digital world that often seems quite foreign to those of us who, as adults, have had to learn to understand and appreciate the opportunities it has to offer for communications. In this year’s message, I am conscious of those who constitute the so-called digital generation and I would like to share with them, in particular, some ideas concerning the extraordinary potential of the new technologies, if they are used to promote human understanding and solidarity. These technologies are truly a gift to humanity and we must endeavour to ensure that the benefits they offer are put at the service of all human individuals and communities, especially those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
The accessibility of mobile telephones and computers, combined with the global reach and penetration of the internet, has opened up a range of means of communication that permit the almost instantaneous communication of words and images across enormous distances and to some of the most isolated corners of the world; something that would have been unthinkable for previous generations. Young people, in particular, have grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster connectedness, communication and understanding between individuals and communities, and they are turning to them as means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, of forming communities and networks, of seeking information and news, and of sharing their ideas and opinions. Many benefits flow from this new culture of communication: families are able to maintain contact across great distances; students and researchers have more immediate and easier access to documents, sources and scientific discoveries, hence they can work collaboratively from different locations; moreover, the interactive nature of many of the new media facilitates more dynamic forms of learning and communication, thereby contributing to social progress.
While the speed with which the new technologies have evolved in terms of their efficiency and reliability is rightly a source of wonder, their popularity with users should not surprise us, as they respond to a fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other. This desire for communication and friendship is rooted in our very nature as human beings and cannot be adequately understood as a response to technical innovations. In the light of the biblical message, it should be seen primarily as a reflection of our participation in the communicative and unifying Love of God, who desires to make of all humanity one family. When we find ourselves drawn towards other people, when we want to know more about them and make ourselves known to them, we are responding to God’s call - a call that is imprinted in our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of God, the God of communication and communion.
The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator. Naturally, I am not talking about fleeting, shallow relationships, I am talking about the real love that is at the very heart of Jesus’ moral teaching: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" and "You must love your neighbour as yourself" (cf. Mk 12:30-31). In this light, reflecting on the significance of the new technologies, it is important to focus not just on their undoubted capacity to foster contact between people, but on the quality of the content that is put into circulation using these means. I would encourage all people of good will who are active in the emerging environment of digital communication to commit themselves to promoting a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship. Those who are active in the production and dissemination of new media content, therefore, should strive to respect the dignity and worth of the human person. If the new technologies are to serve the good of individuals and of society, all users will avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable.
The new technologies have also opened the way for dialogue between people from different countries, cultures and religions. The new digital arena, the so-called cyberspace, allows them to encounter and to know each other’s traditions and values. Such encounters, if they are to be fruitful, require honest and appropriate forms of expression together with attentive and respectful listening. The dialogue must be rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth if it is to realize its potential to promote growth in understanding and tolerance. Life is not just a succession of events or experiences: it is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.
The concept of friendship has enjoyed a renewed prominence in the vocabulary of the new digital social networks that have emerged in the last few years. The concept is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. It is in and through our friendships that we grow and develop as humans. For this reason, true friendship has always been seen as one of the greatest goods any human person can experience. We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship. It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbours and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation. If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.
Friendship is a great human good, but it would be emptied of its ultimate value if it were to be understood as an end in itself. Friends should support and encourage each other in developing their gifts and talents and in putting them at the service of the human community. In this context, it is gratifying to note the emergence of new digital networks that seek to promote human solidarity, peace and justice, human rights and respect for human life and the good of creation. These networks can facilitate forms of co-operation between people from different geographical and cultural contexts that enable them to deepen their common humanity and their sense of shared responsibility for the good of all. We must, therefore, strive to ensure that the digital world, where such networks can be established, is a world that is truly open to all. It would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication, which permit the sharing of knowledge and information in a more rapid and effective manner, were not made accessible to those who are already economically and socially marginalized, or if it should contribute only to increasing the gap separating the poor from the new networks that are developing at the service of human socialization and information.
I would like to conclude this message by addressing myself, in particular, to young Catholic believers: to encourage them to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this "digital continent". Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the "Good News" of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing.
From the Vatican,
24 January 2009,
Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.