Guadalajara (Mexico). From 5 to 8 May 2024, the meeting of the Social Communications Team of the Americas – ECOSAM was held in Guadalajara, Mexico, at the Cruz del Apostolado Spirituality Center (CECAP) of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.

With Sister Maria Ausilia De Siena, General Councilor for Social Communications of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, there were 24 participants from 19 Provinces of the American continent, including, in addition to the FMA, a laywoman and a layman, Communication coordinators of Mother Mazzarello Provinces (BMM) of Brazil and Mother of the Church of Mexico (MMO).

The aim of the meeting was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ECOSAM and to strengthen the synergy, commitment, and communication strategy of the coordinators and provincial coordinators of communication, through reflection, exchange of experiences and knowledge, in order to strengthen the communicative action in the specific context of the Salesian realities of America.

The gathering began on May 5, after dinner, with the presentation of the participants and the opening prayer, around the theme of the joy of encounter. In the following days, the work began with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr. Rogelio Aguado González, Salesian of Don Bosco, who encouraged the group to seek holiness “today” to communicate with joy and consistency the good message of the Gospel.

ECOSAM, remembrance time

May 6 was the “Remembrance Day” for ECOSAM. Sister Maria Antonia Chinello, Professor at the Pontifical Faculty of Education Science “Auxilium”, in an online link from Rome, shared the path of Social Communication in the American continent from 1992 to 2002, during which she worked in the Communication Sector with Sister Graziella Curti, first General Councilor for Social Communication of the Institute.

The historical passages of the paths and projects of ECOSAM were then shared through video-interviews, starting with Sister Giuseppina Teruggi, General Councilor from 2002 to 2014; Sister Susana Li, of Costa Rica, coordinator of ECOSAM from 2011 to 2017; Sister Marcia Koffermann, of Brazil, coordinator from 2018 to 2023; and Sister María Baffundo, of Uruguay, member of the coordination team from 2014 to 2019.

Subsequently, Sister Marcia Koffermann, who received a PhD in Communication from the University of Huelva, Spain, spoke on the theme “Educommunication and disinformation: the structure in the face of the political and ideological manipulation of social networks”. In her speech, she deepened the history and context in which the concept of Educommunication was born, also analyzing the current scenario in relation to the media and raising several questions among the participants.

In the afternoon, the group experienced a special moment of thanksgiving for the life and mission of ECOSAM and also gathered for Inter-Specialty Conferences to reflect and share on the 5th meeting of the Salesian Schools of America (ESA V) – held in Guadalajara from 1 May to 5 May 2024 – from a communication perspective.

Among the various sharing, some points emerge:

inter-sector work, the implementation of joint, ethical, and Salesian actions that are a credible testimony of synodality (CINAB); the use of modern forms of communication with parents and young people to help them form themselves as good Christians and honest citizens regarding risks and a positive use of new technologies; formation in critical thinking, both for FMA and for young people in formation (NAC); Communication Education in the Perspective of Human Rights (CICSAL); Adequate Training in Communication, Quality Education (CIB); make communication education present in all dimensions and visible within the pastoral proposals of the Provinces, developing critical thinking, strengthening environmental education and institutional communication (CIMAC).

The working day ended with the evening prayer and a Marian moment prepared and animated by the FMA of the NAC Conference of the United States and Canada.

Prophecy of presence and presence in social networks

On the second day of the meeting, the team had the opportunity to deepen the theme “The prophecy of presence”, presented by the General Councilor, Sister Auxilia De Siena, starting from the Letter from Rome (1884) written by Don Bosco and the text “The educational charism of Mother Mazzarello” by Sister Piera Cavaglià, FMA.

The Councilor also presented some themes for reflection on the document, “Towards a full presence”, published by the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See in May 2023. She left the group some questions: How do we move in this changing world? How do we ensure the quality of our presence? Who is my neighbor on social media? How can we help heal a harmful digital environment? How can we reflect the “style” of God – which is a style of closeness, tenderness, and compassion – on social media?

Another significant formative moment was the intervention of Dr. Antonio Carrón de la Torre, Augustinian priest recollect, General Councilor for the areas of education, social apostolate, and communication. In an online link, he presented the theme “Developing meaningful relationships and lasting links in the digital age”. Fr. Antonio left some points for reflection: the importance of interiority, the importance of meeting and relating well with everyone.

In the afternoon, the participants were surprised by the presentation, “Digital strategies for evangelization – Visibility on social networks”, held by Father José Luis Gonzáles Santoscoy, better known as “Father Pollo”.

Providing concrete data of the digital world, Father Pollo talked about social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – X, TikTok, WhatsApp – Telegram, showing how they work and how to be present on these networks, with adequate strategies and intentionality, so that the mission of evangelization may be successful.

To conclude the meeting, the participants – divided into groups according to social networks (Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok) – reflected on the strategic planning of ECOSAM, indicating the steps taken so far, those to be taken from Guadalajara, and providing the coordination team with suggestions for the continuity of communication actions.

A sending celebration, prepared by the Brazilian Conference on the singing of the Magnificat of Mary, concluded the ECOSAM meeting, together with the verification of the days spent in Guadalajara and the blessing of sending the participants by the General Councilor. In turn, the coordinators sent Sister Auxilia, with a blessing from the book of Numbers (6:24-26), praying that all, strengthened, could return to their realities strengthened, and with the hope of a generative communication mission of ever greater synergy and synodality as ECOSAM.

Photos: Flickr ECOSAM FMA


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