- Letter from Fr Filiberto
Dear confreres, and friends of SC,
Hopefully my greetings find you in the best of circumstances in
community, in family, both you and those who work with you in the
I have two items of good news. The first is
that the Holy Father has chosen the theme for the 25th World
Communications Day, 2011: "Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life
in the digital era". This news predates the actual Message which will
be published on 24 January next, the Feast of St Francis of Sales,
Patron of journalists, and our Patron too. On the one hand truth
received or discovered carries within it a calling so to speak to be
proclaimed, and on the other hand demands authenticty of life of the
one who proclaims it. Witnesses to truth in the digital era are
required to be better persons, humanly speaking, be better prepared
intellectually, and to have profound spiritual experience, to a much
greater extent than was the case in the analogue era. This is all a
real challenge for our initial and ongoing formation.
The second good news is that the three General
Councillors for the mission - meaning Youth Ministry, Missions and
Communications - will be meeting together soon with the Regional and
Provincials of Interamerica to seek a model or models of teamwork and
common effort which will allow for greater coordination of these
sectors, in view of the Salesian mission at Congregational and
Provincial level, as no. 117 of GC26 asked. We then hope to
repeat this experience with the other Regions. I will let you
know the results in good time. Meanwhile, I ask you, as well as your
prayer, to keep an open mind, heart and action where this paradigm is
concerned; we are seeking to highlight the central place of the mission
in the Congregation's life, structures and organisation.
Fr Filiberto González Plasencia sdb
General Councillor for SC
Information: Church 2.0?
by Jesús Colinare (Zenit)
has changed radically over the last 6 years and maybe in the Catholic
Press we haven't noticed. Interactiviy, or better, content
produced directly by users, has generated services which have had
greatest success in this period: Wikipedia, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter.
Flicker, Google News... including Open Source as a form of
interactivity and community production. However if we take a look at
Catholic Church web pages, in general we see how the majority of them
look like they did in 2004: non-interactive! Or at least with marginal
interactivity. This all seems to indicate that communictors in the
Church ahve missed the Web 2.0 train.
1. Web 2.0 and relativism
So what has happened? There is, firstly, an
explanation which helps us understand one reasn why interactivity has
not penetrated Church communication. The content production model, be
they videos,photos or articles, are based on an implicit concept:
relativism. If there is no single truth, if what one or other person
says is indifferent, and everything is valid, then everything is at the
Applying this interactive, though relative
model, takes place via publishing objectives which are proper to each
publishing form. The majority of web 2.0 efforts have one aim: a
business plan which will repay the trust placed in them by investors.
It is a new Internet business model: on the one hand the users, and
volunteer effort as well, with content that might often be
contradictory, while on the other hand there are the publishers who
have now found the machinery to earn more.
It is easy to see how such a model has little
to do with the Catholic Church and partly explains why it has
2. An original sin
However this is not the only reason that
explains lack of interactivity in so many Catholic interactive
services. A number of studies have been carried out, in both the US and
France, on the reasons why frequently the web pages of Protestant
Denominations achieve greater impact. Those that I have read all come
to the same conclusion: Catholics "talk"; Protestants "listen". The
original sin of many Catholic communicators is aa widespread one: the
bishop, parish priest, Catholic journalist has an "idea", finds the
money (maybe a grant from the Church, or a donation) and launches a
publication, TV channel, web page... Is this communication? Do
Catholics pay any attention to what people are really looking for on
the Internet? Before, during and after the launch of an Internet
project it is not only essential to "listen to" the audience, but we
have to see that the audience can take part. In fact, when we think of
interactivity on Catholic websites, what usually comes to mind is a
space where the people can send along their ideas to a priest.
This is fine. But we have to ask ourselves as Catholics and people who
browse, is it just about questions to a priest? Is this their vocation
as Christians in the digital era?
3. Church as communion
If we have seen that the Web 2.0 model carries
a margin of risk for being "relative", how then can Catholic
communicators adopt the model for interactivity? The question comes
down simply to the question of the Church's presence on the Internet.
If we can't get over our "original sin", talking much and listening
little, evangelisation itself will be seriously circumscribed.
I believe that the interactive model that web
pages can follow should be characterised by the model of Church as
communion, something Benedict XVI is dedicating his pontificate to. A
diocese where the bishop alone has an Internet presence is not fully
Church as communion, since the rest of its ministers and charisms are
absent. In the daily life of a diocese today, there are also
catechists, parish priests, youth groups, deacons. Where are they on
the Internet? It would be falling into relativism or just a 'flat'
Church, without ministries or charisms, putting everyone on the same
level, seeing that everyone does the same thing in the same language.
This is not the Church. Internet should reflect the life of the
diocese, not be simply a tool of institutional communication from the
communications office or diocesan public relations. Authentic
interactivity takes place when real life is faithfully reflected in
I t is curious, but the Web 2.0 industry has
'stolen' its communication model from Christian language: community.
And community is communion. The Church created communities two thousand
years ago. Now, the success of marketing in the Web 2.0 depends on the
ability to create "communities" which are then reduced to common
interest groups which can sell advertising, specialty products, things
which pay best today.
If the Church, communicating by Internet, were
to do so as Chruch-as-communion, if its community life was reflected on
the web, then it would also be able to create 'community' on the Web.
The person browsing its services would become something more evident by
coming into contact with a much closer reality of the diocese, a
parish, Caritas, the diocesan choir ...
When a Church communicates on the Internet as
communion, in community, the reality ceases being virtual and becomes
more real, puts the user in touch with the real life of the diocese,
parish or community. This is when we achieve greater interactivity,
when virtual reality becomes "encounter", which is what, at the end of
the day, changes the lives of people.
Formation: Image-identity-style: Salesian corporative communication
Medellin Colombia Province (COM) has been questioning itself about its corporative image and identity along the following lines:
1. Institutional – Salesians sdb and lay people need to share the same spirit: it is the mission at the centre, not the works.
2. Marketing externally
through a coherent lifestyle, quality offerings which respond to young
peoples' needs and the needs of others around them (parents, teachers,
families, church, government and non-government groups).
3. Global reality
– Given many other organisations wih a similar mission, we need to show
how we are different, be competitive and find our place in the minds
and hearts of our public. We are not alone.
4. Unified criteria are we known in the cities? Are we known in the country? How?
5. Consistent message which communicates who we are as experts in dealing with the young.
Meanwhile in India:
On 24th September 2010, during the First ever national conference of
Don Bosco School Principals of India, under the aegis of All India Don
Bosco Educational Society, (AIDBES), Fr. Maria Arokia Kanagam announced
the good news that "Don Bosco is a Trade Mark from today".
During the annual meeting of the Provincial
Delegates for Education at Guwahati on 11-12th December 2009, it was
proposed that we patent "Don Bosco" as trade mark for Salesian
Fr. Charles Maria was entrusted with the
responsibility of doing the work. In fact he engaged Mr Hari
Subramaniam, Attorney at Law, Patent and Trademark Agent, to do
the patenting. He announed at the conference on 24th that he was doing
the work free of charge because he appreciates the work of the
Now every Salesian Institution in India can
put the letters (TM) after the name Don Bosco School, etc. to make
people aware that this is patented and should not be misused.
Those institutions that have already taken the
name of Don Bosco have to follow the educational philosophy and
methodology of Don Bosco. If they move away from that spirit and bring
ill repute to Don Bosco institutions, they can be ordered by a
duly consituted court to change their name.
Those Salesian Institutions that do not have
the name of Don Bosco, but that of some other saint, can always add the
suffix, (A Don Bosco Institition) in order to benefit from our Trade
Production: SB in Central America - the report
Example of how one might prepare a report on the Salesian Bulletin, thanks to Fr. Heriberto Herera sdb, (email@example.com).
Report on Salesian Bulletin CAM
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