Rome (Italy).  On 28 and 29 April 2023, in Rome, at the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS), the XIII edition of the Salesian Communication Days, took place, two days of reflection and formation on issues related to communication.

Organized by the Dicastery for Social Communication of the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Communication Sector of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Faculty of Social Communication Sciences of the UPS, and the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences «Auxilium» of Rome, on the theme “Reading and interpreting to proclaim”, the Days saw the participation of about 120 young people in formation, with their men and women formators.

The FMA Novices of the International Novitiates Sister Teresa Valsè Pantellini of Rome – Via Appia, and Mary Help of Christians of Castelgandolfo (Rome), of the Roman Province of St. John Bosco (IRO), tell of the experience:

It was above all a family moment and a beautiful opportunity to see many young people in initial formation from SDB, FMA, and other religious Congregations gathered together to promote formation in communication. The first means available to us to communicate the joy of a life given to the Lord and to young people is precisely fraternity and the beauty of being together.

After the institutional greetings of the two General Councilors for Communication, Fr. Gildasio Dos Santos Mendez and Sr. Maria Ausilia De Siena; of the General Councilor for Formation, Sr. Nilza Fátima de Moraes; of Fr. Fabio Pasqualetti, Dean of the Faculty of Social Communication Sciences at UPS; and the organizers of the Conference, Dr. Vincenzo Corrado, Director of the Social Communications Office of the Italian Episcopal Conference and UPS alumnus, proposed a reflection starting from the Message of Pope Francis for World Social Communications Day 2023: Speaking from the heart.

In his discourse, Dr. Corrado took up the triptych of themes left by Pope Francis for the GMCS of the last three years, inviting us to “go and see” within the folds of the world, to listen to its weaknesses with the heart, and therefore to talk about it. “Communication, before using concrete communication tools, really needs to rediscover this vocation to place itself in a spiritual dimension with respect to humanity.” Following this path means administering the “therapy of hope” to the communicative organism in a world in which it is increasingly difficult to hope.

At the end of the presentation, after a few questions from those present, we gathered in smaller groups to share our methods of information and discuss a topical issue that ranged from the testimony of the Church of Pope Francis to the world of youth, from social networks to the division between Republicans and Democrats, up to the ‘hottest’ topic of wars. It was a time of great mutual enrichment, born from the intertwining of different visions, experiences, lives, cultures, as also emerged from the sharing in the assembly at the end of Saturday morning.

In the evening, the word was left to Caravaggio, a great communicator of beauty through his works present in the basilica of St. Augustine in Campo Marzio, and in the church of St. Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. Thanks to the guidance of Fr. Andrea Lonardo, Director of the Service for Culture and the University of the Diocese of Rome and Pastor of St. Thomas Moore parish, we were able to get to the heart of the meaning – artistic and human – of these canvases, which know how to communicate with great intensity still today, after more than four hundred years.

Saturday morning opened with the celebration of the Eucharist in the UPS chapel, on the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, patroness of Europe, presided over by Fr. Gildasio and concelebrated by all the priests present. In his homily the Councilor, taking up the testimony of St. Paul a great communicator, said, “Reading and interpreting to proclaim requires a clear option to communicate starting from our experience of the risen Christ. Our impulse to communicate does not come from ourselves, from our self-referentiality, but from the Kingdom of God.”

This was followed by the various Seminars proposed – at the choice of each – on the themes of media communication, information disorder and the search for truth, young people and educational emergencies, Artificial Intelligence and the Chat GPT case, contemporary art and narration, religions, human rights, conflicts and migration, development, economy and poverty. In the various groups, held by experts and enthusiasts of the sector, there was the opportunity not only to learn a lot, but also to ask questions, to share and reflect together.

Although brief, these days were very rich from many points of view. In the first place, the dimension of the encounter: many countries of origin, different ages and faces, but a single voice that continues to call within a charism, the Salesian one, so fruitful and dynamic, by which we cannot fail to be fascinated. Secondly, the opportunity to seriously question ourselves together, to ask ourselves big questions and to find a few more answers about this world of ours that we don’t fully understand, but that we can’t stop loving.

Finally, the desire to increasingly be what we are called to be in our daily lives, with the certainty that a simple, radically Christian life is the most effective form of communication and the answer to every cry for love in our world and of young people.

Photos: Flickr FMA


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