Salesian appointed Executive Secretary of the CBCI Commission for Social Communications
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India Standing Committee which met in
Bangalore, April 25-27, appointed media trainer Fr. George Plathottam,
Secretary, CBCI Office for Social Communications, as the new Director
of the National Institute of Social Communications Research and
The appointment of Fr Plathottam as director comes in the wake of the
death of Jesuit Fr Srampickal SJ on April 14. Fr. Srampickal was
scheduled to take charge as director in June. Salesian Fr. Plathottam
who belongs to Guwahati province has been serving as the Secretary of
the CBCI-OSC since 2008. He will continue to hold the responsibility of
the national office as well as head NISCORT.
Fr Plathottam holds a PhD in Communications from North Eastern Hill
University, Shillong and has three Masters degrees in theology,
sociology, and journalism & mass communications. He has served as
Director of the Mass Media Department in St Anthony’s College,
Shillong, and president of Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA). A
long time member of the international committee of consulters on
communications of the Salesian Society, he has authored several books
and articles on media.
He is the third Director of NISCORT and will succeed Fr. Jude Botelho in June 2012.
NISCORT, situated in Vaishali in the National Capital Region of Delhi,
offers three Masters’ Degrees and several diploma and certificate
courses in communications. During the past fifteen years the
centre has trained several media professionals including priests,
religious and lay leaders in pastoral communication.
Lisbon: SC Delegates, Europe
year after their previous meeting, Social Communications Delegates from
Salesian Provinces in Europe met in Lisbon to take stock of the current
situation. They discussed developments in communication, especially of
a digital nature, and shared their recent initiatives, but there was
also a new topic: the spirituality of the Salesian communicator.
“We want to understand and discuss the spirituality of the
Salesian communicator not just as subject matter, but as the interior
experience of those involved in communication”, said Fr Filiberto
Gonzalez, General Councillor for Social Communications. “Salesians, and
in recent years more and more lay people, are making a commitment in
this field. As with every field of ministry it involves commitment and
sometimes mental strain. In our commitment to social communications it
is important to remind ourselves constantly of our two great passions:
God and the young.”
A good deal of time was given to presentations of the work going
on in the 23 provinces represented in Lisbon at the centre, run by the
Irmãs Franciscanas Hospitaleiras da Imaculada Conceição. Also present
as guests were a Salesian and a laywoman from the Brazilian province of
This is the third year that the Social Communications Department
has organised meetings of SC Delegates at a European level to provide a
continental vision and contribution.
What has emerged is a picture of varied approaches and
initiatives. They indicate strong commitment in some provinces and new
growth of interest in the field of communication in others. There is
also a wide variety in the level of collaboration in each province
between the areas of Salesian mission: youth ministry, missions and
There is a well developed presence on the web
from provinces (with sites run by institutions and individual works)
and youth ministry (web sites and multimedia magazines), but there is a
lack of significant developments in Salesian formation in the initial
and especially in the ongoing phases.
From the various reports it is apparent that several Provinces
have made great efforts to present and apply the Salesian System of
Social Communications which was updated and re-launched just over a
Pierre Babin has left us
May 9 2012 the death occurred at the age of 87 of Pierre Babin,
Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, a great expert in religious
communication. He was the founder of the Centre for Research and
Education in Communication (CREC), where hundreds of communicators were
trained, particularly from Africa and Asia. He was also the creator of
the “Symbolic Way” for the new evangelization.
He was born in Paray-le-Monial (France) in
1925. In 1942 he joined the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary
Immaculate (OMI); he was ordained priest in 1949. He completed
his theological studies in the Catholic University of Lyons,
specializing in the relationship between theology and psychology.
In 1955 he began his university teaching, first in Lyons, then in
Paris, Strasburg, Ottawa, Montreal, Bangkok. In the eighties and
nineties he was a visiting lecturer in the Salesian University, on the
occasion of various conventions and seminars.
In Lyons in, Pierre Babin founded thel CREC,
specializing in training for the media and communication at the service
ofChristian institutions. He published a large number of articles and
books demonstrating a constant commitment to reconciling media based
communication with gospel challenge. His point of departure was a
fruitful integration of the ideas of the catechetical expert, Joseph
Colomb with those of the mass-mediologist Marshall McLuhan, with whom
he was in contact and from whom he had derived some ideas which
he applied to the ecclesial and missionary setting.
In 2011, the 100th anniversary of the birth
of Marshall McLuhan, he received an award in memory of the
Canadian educator and communicator.
His proposal assigns a real supremacy to the
“image” in comparison with every form of “oral” communication, an image
understood in wide sense, so as to include symbol, intuition,
music, sound. In his eyes, audiovisual language is much more than a
simple pedagogical tool designed to transmit the message of
faith. Hence the proposal of a “symbolic way”, a term with which
Babin points to a spiritual attitude, a new way of coming into
contact with reality and culture, rather than just a didactic method of
The funeral was celebrated on May 12 in the Chapelle Saint François d'Assise in Lyons.
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Guadalajara-Mexico City: SC Delegates, the Americas. 4-7 August at Guadalajara, and 7-9 August in Mexico City
Animation - Letter from Fr Filiberto
My dear confreres and friends of SC,
midway through last month until midway through the current month, we
have held a number of very important meetings: Publishers, Presses and
Radio in Latin America; SC Delegates from Europe; Project Europe
reference persons; Euroclip Don Bosco; those in formation amongst SDB
and FMA in Italy, to celebrate World Social Communications Day:
Salesian Bulletin editors from around the world.
I want to pick out just two basic but complementary aspects running
through all these gatherings since it was worthwhile understanding them
The first: discovering the specific nature of the spirituality of the
Salesian communicator. We need to discover and incarnate certain
specific elements of Salesian spirituality that keep our vocation and
desire for the mission to needy youth alive and growing, especially in
a multimedia society which holds both opportunities and risks for
Salesian and lay alike, for educators and the young as well. It
is not about inventing a new spirituality, but discovering the elements
already there that support the vocation of the Salesian or lay person
who has given his or her life to God, to others, especially the young
by working in communications. If we are certain that people
cannot but communicate, then it is essential for us to become seekers
of God in order that, loving Him and being filled with Him, we
communicate Him to the young, since this is our mission. This way we
turn the phrase 'the medium is the message' into something real.
The second aspect is about introducing the Salesian charism into the
new digital culture. Here we are talking of a scenario that is
irreversible and rapid. To a greater or lesser extent, the fact is that
we all use the internet and are consumers of digital technology, one
way or another. So it is not a question of deciding whether or not to
enter into this field, but of knowing just how and why we are to be
there. We stand before one of the greatest Salesian opportunities
yet, by living in that 'continent' which youth mostly prefer to live
in, the digital continent. This is one of our greatest
opportunities for witness regarding God, Jesus and his Gospel for
millions of young people who have a thirst for Him and have a right to
know Him. This is why we need to change our way of thinking, multiply
the opportunities for encountering the young, learn to use new
technologies and new languages. Who will speak of God to these millions
of young people spread throughout the digital continent? Who will show
them His love? It is no longer a question of whether we like to or not;
it is a question of being faithful to who we are as Salesians.
Along with the SC Team here I wish you a very happy celebration of the
Feast of Mary Help of Christians.
Fraternally yours in Don Bosco
Fr Filiberto González, Councillor for SC
Information: Salesian Bulletin - some statistics
the continental level, the editions of the SB increase where the
Salesian presences are more recent or are still in a stage of expansion
(Africa, Asia and Oceania), while they remain stable in the countries
where the presence is historically rooted (America and Europe). In this
connection the publications in new languages make an entry, such as
Vietnamese, Tetum, Kannada…(in Asia), and French (spoken in many
African countries) is on the increase. Spanish counts the greatest
number of editions, followed by English. Some are bilingual or
About half the editions are bi-monthly,
about ten are monthly, while the remainder have a lower frequency
of 2-3 editions a year.
Also the circulation varies significantly,
from a few thousand, for the most recently founded editions, to over 4
million annually for the Italian SB, founded by Don Bosco himself. The
grand total of the circulation of the SB over the whole world is
estimated to be over 8,5 million copies a year.
The contents on offer are varied and balanced,
ranging from Salesian Spirituality to the young, from education to
missions, from international reflections to local situations… The
rainbow of readers is equally colourful, showing that, by and large,
The SBs succeeds in suiting the tastes of all age ranges.
At the same time the analysis reveals several
challenges and questions of general application. The distribution
of the SBs, for example, is carried out in most cases by the Salesians
themselves. In this connection it is imperative to motivate external
members of the Congregation – members of the ever increasing Salesian
Family – to become involved in the promotion of the SB. This is even
more necessary given that more and more often the SB is published
in digital, and in some cases only in digital.
Presence on the internet is certainly another
of the challenges. At present, the very great majority of the SBs
are on the internet, but the presence is almost always static. The aim
is to encourage a migration towards a more interactive presence,
through social networking, and secondly, towards the adoption of the
latest standards of the semantic web.
Other sensitive topics arising from the
analysis were: the manner of presenting the monthly letter which the
Rector Major writes expressly for the SB; the presence of
advertising; the need to move from the idea of a “factotum editor” to
that of an editorial team.
Formation: Silence and Word
training day held on May 12, at the Pontifical Salesian University, was
a true and proper celebration of communication. The protagonists were
young religious, Salesians and Daughters of Mary, Help of
It was organized by the social communication
departments of Salesians and FMA, the Pontifical Faculty of Sciences of
Education of the Auxilium and by the Faculty of Sciences of Social
Communication of the UPS (FSC). The main theme for the day was
that of the XLVI World Day of Social Communication: “Silence and
Word, a Path of Evengelization.”
About 120 young Salesians and Daughters of
Mary Help of Christians, accompanied by their formators: novices,
post-novices, juniors, and students of theology came together to
reflect, discuss, pray and experience the contents of the message of
Pope Benedict XVI .
Opened by the initial welcoming messages of
Sister Giuseppina Teruggi, Fr. Filiberto González and Fr.
Mauro Mantovani, the new Dean of the FSC, the meeting divided into
The first phase was academic and was led by
Fr. Franco Lever and by Sister Maria Antonia Chinello, who presented
and examined the binomial Silence and Word. This
presentation brought out the definitions, potentials
and problems involved in the terms as applied to human beings in the
process of communication. The following arguments and dialogue
between the young religious and the two lecturers consisted of
questions arising from Salesian pastoral and charismatic action,
personal formation and community life.
Silence and Word also centred in the prayer
which concluded the morning, a celebration enriched with gesture and
symbolism which offered an experience of spirituality based on
the languages of human communication.
In the afternoon the third and more
experiential phase took place. The young religious entered more deeply
into the second part of the Pope’s message: “a path of evangelization”.
The workshops of drama, diction, music, cinema, video, writing and
social networking and organization of events showed useful ways
and initiatives of making pastoral work more effective.
The two Councilors for Communication, Fr.
González and Sister Teruggi, concluded the day hoping that
this initiative might become a model for other experiences at
Provincial and local level, which will see Salesians and Daughters of
Mary, Help of Christians involved in the formation in
communication of young religious and in the animation of educative
Production: FSC Dictionary online
Ten years after its publication, the Dictionary of Communication Science and Technology from the Salesian University Faculty of Social Communications can now be consulted on the internet. www.lacomunicazione.it
What has been made available to all is far more than a
transcription of the printed text into digital form. By means of a
simple free registration its potential can be fully explored and it can
be turned into a personalised tool for work and research.
The project was developed at the Institute of Social Communications
Science (ISCOS) of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, which
was established in 1988, the centenary of the death of Don Bosco, and
became the Faculty of Social Communications Science (FSC) in 1998. The
Dictionary was intended, at least initially, to be a
private space for reflection and dialogue between the lecturers and
associates of the Faculty, in order to bring out important theoretical
concepts and promote cohesion and cultural foundations. At a later
stage, again thanks to collaboration with lecturers in other Italian
and foreign Universities, it became more widely available as a valuable
opportunity for dialogue with the scientific community.
Directing the work are three lecturers from the Faculty: Franco Lever,
Pier Cesare Rovoltella and Adrian Zanacchi. The printed version
(including the digital version on CD) was launched officially at the
Turin International Book Fair in May 2002. The new version, designed
specially for the internet and enriched with many new functions by
Paolo Sparaci, also a lecturer at FSC, has been available on line since
21st April this year.
It is aimed at university students interested in communications,
communications professionals (journalists, technicians, priests,
teachers, politicians, entrepreneurs…) and anyone interested in
understanding new technologies. It pays constant attention to
educational principles and to the need for an approach to
communications which can call itself Christian.
Free registration enables the user to personalise the Dictionary with
marginal notes, add contributions and set up preferences. Registered
users can send suggestions, point out any errors, contribute further
detail to the published texts and also help with the drafting of new
At present the Dictionary is available only in Italian, but, as Franco
Lever explains, “The work is conceived as a service to as many readers
as possible. The idea of translating entries into other languages is
not only accepted, but welcomed.”