Certainly, one of the best parts of the team meeting in Peru was the opportunity to get to know the members of the General Council in a more personal way. We already got to know Fr. Ángel and Fr. Hugo during their visit in November, and then Fr. Hugo was in SUE again in February for the consultation of the next provincial. In Peru, we were able to interact with Fr. Stefano Martoglio (Vicar of the Rector Major), Br. Jean Paul Muller (Economer General), Fr. Miguel Angel Garcia (youth ministry), Fr. Ivo Coelho (formation), Fr. Alfred Maravilla (missions), and Fr. Gildásio Mendes dos Santos (communications). The atmosphere was very fraternal.
In a good night, Fr. Gildásio summarized six major projects that the communications department has given attention to in the past three years. In varying degrees of commitment, our province has been in sync with the Congregation. The projects are:
An extensive updating of the Congregation’s official document on communication. It has been two years in the works. When the final draft is published, we will be able to improve our own experiences, at the provincial and local level, in the area of communications, to be more in line with the Congregation.
Salesian Media Schools. The Congregation animated 12 "schools" throughout the Congregation with about 600 participants. These schools were conducted virtually, usually meeting monthly for one year. I thank Julia St. Clair and a small team for helping to organize the media school in English for our region.
Communication plan for each province, following the guidelines and methodologies of the Congregation. Although we have an annual action plan for our province communications office, we have not really developed a comprehensive communications plan for the province. From my visits to our Salesian presences, I feel the same is true of the local works. We do things in the area of communications, but we don’t have a comprehensive plan that really guides our projects.
World Congress on Communications, to be held in Rome, August 1-7, 2024. Our province was represented by Julia St. Clair and Rosina Di Felice at the International Meeting on the Salesian Bulletin in April. We expect to have two representatives at the international congress in 2024. Leading up to this meeting, each EPC can consider how the Salesian identity is incorporated into its communication, and how the local work uses communication to respond to the educational and pastoral challenges and opportunities of this new world.
Don Bosco Film Festival. The first Don Bosco Global Film Festival, which concluded in June 2022, was a platform to showcase the creative filmmaking talents of young people from Salesian presences. The second film festival will be in October this year. The theme is "Love builds peace and solidarity."
Collaboration of the communications department with other departments of the Congregation. An example was the theme of the Salesian Mission Day 2022, "Communicating Christ Today: Missionaries Online." We have improved our interdepartmental communication in the province offices, although there is still room to grow. At the local level, we experience varying degrees of cooperation between departments along with a persistent "silo" mentality.
Fr. Gildásio connected his presentation on communication to the “Salesian sacrament of presence.” We need a clear vision of our charismatic identity, that is, to know who we are, if we want to communicate the shared mission effectively. We are reminded that human relationships remain the paradigm in communication, even as we employ diverse methods of communication for education and evangelization, like digital media. Don Bosco’s educational experience with the young people of Valdocco is a model for us—personal interaction like a word in the ear, a kind gaze, a little note of encouragement along with modern means of communication to further the mission.
Throughout the province, we bring together graduations, anniversary celebrations, sacraments of initiation, ordinations, and preparations for transitions, and place them all in the motherly care of Mary Help of Christians, knowing she will intercede for us in our need.
Fr. Tim Zak