Council Resources

Newsletter - May 2012

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Newsletter no. 33, May 2012

At a glance
In other news

Salesian appointed Executive Secretary of the CBCI Commission for Social Communications

George P

The 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 Training.
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


One 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 Recife.

     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 social communications.

 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 year ago.

Pierre Babin has left us


On 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 facilitating learning.

     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,
From 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 better.
     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

At 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 trilingual.
     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
Silence and word

The 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  Christians.
     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 several phases.
     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 pastoral communities.

Production: FSC Dictionary online
FSC dictionary

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.
      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 entries.
     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.”