Content and method
for the various formation stages
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 (#59 and #89) from the “Salesian Social Communications System” guidelines which reflect on formational aspects: where it says that social communication is developed within the framework of reference of youth pastoral ministry (# 59), and, where it speaks of formation references in social communication ( # 89).
Folllowing what the magisterium of the Church and the documents of the Congregation say, the “Salesian Social Communication System” in # 90 specifies what the three formation levels are.
The first level, basic, focuses on formation of the receivers. This deals with:
The second level focuses on the preparation of educational and pastoral workers. This deals with:
The third level concerns the preparation of specialists in social communication whose task is on behalf of the entire provincial community which needs to:
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 Fr Tarcísio Scaramussa
General Councillor for Formation General Councillor for Social Communication
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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 learnt at school into practice:
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 # 68 and # 92, which make 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”; educommunication 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:
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 attnetion 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:
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:
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 Churchs 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 initiatves 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: