Rome (Italy). On 20 and 21 March 2023, in Rome at the headquarters of St. John Bosco Province (IRO), the Inter-sector meeting of the Italian Provinces (UNISIT) was held, prepared by the Communication Commission on the theme: “FMA Onlife – identity is mission”.
The inter-sector meeting is an annual event that the Italian Provinces have been experiencing for some time. Suspended for three years due to the pandemic, it was resumed this year. In turn, the national commissions of Youth Ministry, Formation, Economy, and Communication, take turns preparing the event on transversal themes of common interest. The recipients are the Provincials, the members of the four Commissions, the representatives of the national CIOFS Associations, who meet to reflect, share ideas, build a common cultural basis that allows us to journey together.
This year’s theme was born from the solicitations of the Acts of the XXIV General Chapter which, in the UNISIT triennial programming, were made concrete in the following guideline: “Assume a communicative culture that promotes current and engaging models of communication for a clear visibility of our identity and for a greater efficacy of the educational and evangelizing mission,” set out in the objectives:
- have a cultural, communicative, and psychological update of what is really happening on the net and have a common knowledge base;
- reflect on how, starting from the identity and mission of the FMA, we can be more effective by going to meet the young people, now mostly present outside the courtyard of the FMA houses, but who can and must also be intercepted in the digital world.
The two-day itinerary was accompanied by the presence of professionals who offered their skills and testimonials:
Rosa Giuffrè: Social Media Educator and Digital Strategist. Founder of LabOratorium APS, an association for social promotion at the service of young people who wish to have a voice in the digital world and believe in the transformative power of community and relationships.
Giovanni Fasoli: Priest of the Opera Famiglia of Nazareth, bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Theology, counselor, clinical and educational psychologist, teaches Adolescent Psychology, Pedagogy of virtual reality and Cyber-psychology, and new-media communication at the IUSVE University of Venice.
Carlo Presotto: University professor and formator, he deals with theatrical practice as a field of construction and reconstruction of personal and social identity. An expert in participatory processes, he is the scientific director of research and community projects in Italy and Europe.
On the first day, the participants were faced with the need to implement a paradigm shift. Guided by Rosa Giuffrè, they explored the socio-communicative aspects, asking themselves questions regarding the current digital scenario and culture and, in terms of communication, “How is ONLIFE communicating beyond our courtyard? What communication is possible?”
Led by Giovanni Fasoli, they then explored the psychological aspects, wondering how young people are living ONLIFE outside the Salesian courtyard and what communication is possible.
Guided by Carlo Presotto, through an immersive laboratory experience and group work, they experienced how through technology, the real and the virtual mix, until the boundaries are erased. The virtual dimension is as real as the dimension in which one physically lives, and affects one’s perception and knowledge, changing one’s way of grasping reality.
On the second day, the reflection went in depth, considering the relationship between the identity and the mission of the FMA. The topics addressed, always guided by the speakers, were: Web-reputation and professionalism/mission (the 5+ 1 W: Who-What-How-Where-When + Why) and the 4 Rs of the post-digital reflective educator: Recognition-Responsibility-Reflexivity-Re-capacitation.
In the afternoon, through other relational dynamics, the group tried to arrive at the definition of a document from which to draw the contents for elaborating the guidelines for the communication of the FMA institution in Italy.
During this journey, the participants had the joy of having among them Sr. Maria Ausilia De Siena, General Councilor for Communication, who recalled and commented on the words of Pope Francis in his message for the 57th World Day of Social Communications:
“We have an urgent need in the Church for communication that kindles hearts, that is balm on wounds, and sheds light on the journey of brothers and sisters. I dream of an ecclesial communication which knows how to let itself be guided by the Holy Spirit, gentle and at the same time prophetic; which knows how to find new forms and modalities for the marvelous announcement which it is called to bring into the third millennium. A communication that focuses on the relationship with God and with others, especially the neediest, and that knows how to light the fire of faith rather than preserve the ashes of a self-referential identity. A communication based on humility in listening and parrhesia in speaking, which never separates truth from charity.”
Sr. Maria Ausilia encouraged us to continue on the path undertaken and to network, for a communication that is ever more an expression of the identity of the FMA and is effective in the mission, with the conviction that the commitment to clarify the identity of each FMA is already a mission.