The Spirituality of Communication
CBC SOCOM Secretary and PGS Secretary for Social Communications
The COVID-19 pandemic has opened for us news ways of connection and communication, networking, and learning. Fr Gildàsio Mendes Councilor for Social Communications, Salesians of Don Bosco together with the Social Communications department has struck upon a novel idea of opening up the ‘School of Formation for Social Communications’. It is an online program and every province in the congregation is encouraged to be part of it. The sessions are focused on the ‘Spirituality of Communication’. Each session enables us to understand deeply the connection between spirituality and communication. It helps us ponder on the diverse areas of communication, be they interpersonal, intrapersonal, institutional, or organizational communication. It thus gives us a deeper understanding of the theory, practice, and the philosophy of communication. It reinforces the idea that communication is not using the instruments of technology, rather it is transmitting a message that emerges from the depths of one's being, a message that one is convinced of, that is lived out and that has stood the test of time. It is the lived message that is conveyed through our lives, and that is reinforced through our words and images, our publications, and our productions.
After several months of planning at the centre, discussion at the level of the Regions and in consultation with the local situation the program was rolled out in the different regions. This long-term school of formation will conclude in Valdocco in 2024. The first phase of 2021 had five sessions dealt with by eminent professors from the Department of Communications, Rome.
Each province had several persons who have committed themselves to the program. In Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (PGS) we had the following who attended the School of Formation. They will share the sessions within their Educational Pastoral community and with other groups.
1. Fr Ambrose Pereira, PGS, Social Communications delegate and CBC SOCOM.
2. Fr Robinson Parappilly, Tetere, Solomon Islands
3. Fr Shoji Mathew, Savio Haus and Formation Commission
4. Fr Môise Paluku, Vunabosco, Rabaul
5. Lucy Napatalai, DBTI, Boroko
6. Jessica Oata, CBC Waigani
7. Isabella Saleu, CBC Waigani
8. Abigail Seta, CBC Waigani
The sessions held for the EAO region were:
1. A Biblical view of Communications – Fr Gildàsio Mendes, Councilor for Social Communications - 15th September 2021
The session reinforced the fact that ‘God is the author of Life and love. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1-18). Reflecting on the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God and immersed in the diverse relationships we are invited to freely respond to God’s invitation of communication-communion between God and us, revealed in Jesus Christ. From the covenant of love between us and God comes our vocation to communicate and to dwell in the human-cultural communicative ecosystem.
2. Understanding the Synodal Dimension of Communication – Fr. Harris Pakkam, SDB, member of the Sector of Communication, Rome - 29th September 2021
The session emphasized what the Holy Father is encouraging not just the bishops, but all people to ‘Journey together’. Highlighting ‘Synodality’, Fr Harris proposed three approaches through verbal images. First, the need of sound decentralization in the church that would rebuild the relation of the center and the periphery; an inverted pyramid to depict a reversal of ways that the papal and episcopal hierarchy exercise authority in relation to people of God from diverse cultures and especially the poor; a polyhedron to reconceive the status of distinctive parts in relation to the unifying whole.
3. Salesian Dimension of Communication – Fr. Ricardo Cámpoli, SDB, member of the Sector of Communication, Rome - 13th October 2021
The session gave us an insight into our identity as Salesian Communicators. Using an interactive presentation, he highlighted that the Salesian style of communication is a daily exercise of relationships, in the sharing of life with young people. Fr. Pietro Stella's research on Don Bosco's understanding of social communication, the defining text for Salesian charism in Don Bosco's dream at nine, and the letters of the previous three Rectors Major - Vigano, Vecchi and Chavez were texts that were reflected upon during the session.
4. Institutional Dimension of Institutional Communication – Dr. Fabrizio Vignati, Lay person from North Italy – 3rd November 2021
Dr. Fabrizio discussed the history, theory, and model of communication such as information, dialogue, and relationship. He emphasizes that corporate or institutional communication is both a relationship and information and that there is no gap between interpersonal and corporate communication.
Fr. Gildasio reminded everyone to apply corporate communication in their own personal Salesian lives as Salesians and lay persons. He emphasized that as Salesians the values, educative system and our very lives must always reflect St. John Bosco that highlights education, the poor and the young. He also shared the strategy of marketing the Salesian life by valuing the aspect of listening and being in dialogue with persons.
5. Communication and the Youth Pastoral Dimension – Fr. Miguel Angel, SDB, General Councillor for Youth Pastoral – 3rdDecember 2021
Fr. Miguel Ángel, General Councilor for Youth Ministry presented the need for us as animators for us to understand the anthropological context, the digital dynamics and the need for a credible and dynamic witness as we engage and network with young people.
We move forward understanding the ‘grammar’ of symbols, sounds, images, and texts as we interact and dialogue keeping our biblical texts in the background and our digital natives into a digital pastoral communication. It is therefore necessary for us to go beyond technology to collaboration, networking, and mutual support.
May each of us as Salesians listen to the young, encounter them as Don Bosco would and enable them to reflect the presence of God as each of us radiates the presence of God in our lives.