San Paolo (Brazil). From 14 to 16 March 2023, in São Paulo at St. Ines School, the heads of Communication of the Schools, of the Social Works, and of the Hospital of Our Lady Aparecida Province (BAP), met again for the first time in person, to deepen mutual understanding and plan the activities for 2023.
“Where two or three are gathered…” (Mt 18:20) was the Gospel passage that inspired and accompanied the participants during the course of the days.
The first day was dedicated to going to O. L. of Carmel house of Guaratinguetá (SP), to visit the “Memorial of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Brazil” located in the House of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, a former orphanage.
The group was also able to visit in the same place, the centenary grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and drink from the water which is a source of blessings for pilgrims from all over Brazil. After lunch, everyone went to the School of Carmel, founded in 1892, to visit this first FMA presence in the country. In addition to being a historical point of reference, the School is also innovative in its projects and communicative action integrated with integral ecology. The day ended with a visit to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in North Aparecida (SP).
Sr. Maike Loes, Communications Coordinator of the BPA Province, highlighted the significance of this day, “It is no coincidence that we decided to start from the Memorial because by entering that place, we can walk through history and feel embraced by those missionaries who faced innumerable difficulties to bring the Charism of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello to the Brazilian territory.
It is impossible to be there and not feel part of this journey. Sr. Dulce Hirata, curator of the Memorial, underlined at various times the importance of Communication as evidenced by the care for the historical chronicles and the quality of the photographs of the time. This makes us reflect on our daily work, in which we multiply images often without realizing what they are communicating.
Even the visit to the Shrine had a purpose: being part of a Province named after O.L. Aparecida it was important to let everyone experience, especially those who live in the most distant realities from the provincial seat, the embrace, the tenderness, and the warmth of Mother Aparecida’s mantle.”
After immersion in the Salesian charism, the team met for a second day of information on the Communication Sector of the FMA Institute, as well as on the choices of the General Chapter, on the Horizon of the BAP Province, and on its action guidelines defined in the Provincial Assembly of 2022. Since then, the Coordination for Communication and for Social Works divided the teams to address the specific themes.
Formation of the School teams
The representatives of the schools participated in a formation session with the educational consultant Maria Leoneide Rodrigues, one of the persons in charge of developing the Curriculum of the Brazil Salesian Network, a document that is being implemented in the schools to further qualify the Salesian educational proposal. The consultant highlighted the chapters of the Curriculum that must be known by the communication teams. Sr. Maike then conducted reflections and practical activities on the needs of the Communication Sector and on the local practices of each professional.
Formation of the teams of the Social Works and the Hospital
The point of reference for the activities of this group was the International Congress of Salesian Works and Social Services held in Turin in September 2022 on the theme “The widow of Nain” (Lk 7:11-17). “This passage helped us reflect on the point of view of Communication and Social Action starting from three images. To bring it into our work, we drew a parallel between the practice of Jesus, that of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, and of our practice of Education to Communication in our different presences,” explained the coordinator of Social Action, Sr. Rose.
In the evening, the group met to watch the docu-film “The letter”, taken from the encyclical Laudato Si’, written by Pope Francis and which gives voice to the categories most affected by the ecological crisis that humanity is experiencing.
The last day focused on starting the planning of the actions that will guide the work in 2023.
Resonances on the meeting
A phrase that marked the meeting was present in the biblical text of the opening Holy Mass on the second day: “be careful not to forget what your eyes have seen, lest they escape your heart” (Dt 4:9). “What is expected from now on is precisely this: that nothing be lost, that everything that has been experienced here continues to enthuse the teams. Everyone brings with them a lot of new things. We hope they can be accepted in every reality, so that communicators can continue the process started here. I hope that everyone will remain in harmony, in synodality and synergy, growing more and more in the awareness that we are a single Province, which works in a network and supports each other,” commented Sr. Maike.
Rose underlined that everyone came out strengthened in their commitment to live the Charism and the educational mission with greater intentionality in the various forms of communication, both with internal collaborators and with the external public, such as families and people who participate in the actions developed, both with partners and benefactors, and with all those who need to know the importance of the work done by our Province. “Communicating hope, communicating trust in young people, the strength of our educational mission, this is what we want!” – she concluded.