“The Authentic Culture of Encounter”
“The Authentic Culture of Encounter”
Rome (Italy) – Two days of reflection and sharing on Social Communications for about 150 SDB and FMA formandees took place at the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) on May 2-3, on the theme, “Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter.” The theme was inspired by the message of Pope Francis for the XLVIII World Day of Social Communications on June 1.
The formation days were organized by the Social Communications Departments of the Salesians and the FMA, the Pontifical Faculty of the Science of Education Auxilium, and the Faculty of the Science of Communication (FSC). About 150 SDB and FMA Novices, post-Novices, theologians, and Junior Professed participated.
The encounter opened with a prayer and the greetings of the two General Councillors, Fr. Filiberto González (SDB), and Sr. Giuseppina Teruggi (FMA), Sr. Pina Del Core, Principal of the Auxilium, and the Dean of FSC, Fr. Mauro Mantovani. They spoke on the objectives and the theme of the encounter.
A round table followed, introduced by a video done by Professor Enrico Cassanelli (FSC) of an interview with some teenagers on the value and the required attitudes for living an authentic culture of encounter.
Fr. Donato Lacedonio, SDB, moderated the interventions of three presenters through whom various elements of authentic communication were shown, beginning with the moral and anthropological, educational and pastoral aspects in particularly problematic contexts with reference to the digital ambient and the ‘challenges of meaning’ that they pose, especially for the young people.
Sr. Maria Spólnik (Auxilium) emphasized that the culture of encounter is an anthropological need, flowing form the identity of the person and involves his/her vocation, including the totality of human experiences: awareness, freedom, the capacity to choose, affectivity, moral action, suffering, time, promises made (religious vows), community life, and mission.
“In order to meet, we must choose encounter. This requires availability and the disposition to go out of ourselves (it deals with an intellectual, affective, and moral exodus) and enter into relationship. We must choose to guard the relationship, take care of it, remain in the relationship, be faithful to it, and, cost what it may, be ready to pay a personal price so that the ties will not break, but rather be strengthened and made robust.”
Fr. Domenico Ricca (Federation SCS/CNOS) Chaplain of the Turin Juvenile Prison, basing himself on his experience with the imprisoned juveniles, recounted what it means to make oneself a neighbour and which communication strategies to use to reach the poorest and most abandoned young people. He said it is “the strategy of normalcy…look at the young without prejudices; have an oratorian heart, build educational relationships, respect their history and that of their family, not instrumentalized, not plagiarized, but free and liberating, that leaves them free to fly with their own wings; that knows how to remember and build the future, responding to the relational needs present in the young, for they too are carriers of God’s salvific plan.
Padre Paolo Benanti (Gregorian University) made an analysis of the digital society, tracing out the stages of its evolution and Christian efforts in digital relationships. “We are not on the Internet for a goal but in order to build meaning. The Internet is not a space to occupy, but a time to live,” he specified.
The reflections proposed by the presenters were then discussed by the participants, first with group sharing and then in an assembly debate.
On the evening of May 2, there was a joyful time of fraternity animated by the Novices of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. It concluded with the Good Night of the Rector of UPS, Fr. Carlo Nanni.
On Saturday, May 3, the second day had nine study workshops guided by experts: Song and Musical Communication; Film - Culture of Encounter; Story telling; Theatre; Intercultural Communication; the Web as a means of encounter and proximity; The Word of God and Communication for Proximity; Listening to Learn the Art of Dialogue; and When is Communication Authentic? In the afternoon at the general assembly moderated by Sr. Anna Rita Cristaino, there was a lively and productive presentation of the activity developed in each workshop
On Saturday, May 3, the community and groups of participants prepared and guided the time of prayer and the Eucharist, presided over by Fr. González.
The encounter ended with the final syntheses of Sr. Teruggi and Fr. Filiberto who emphasized the need to favour processes of growth, to tend to the community dimension of educational and pastoral action, to witness the joy and beauty of having encountered Jesus, to nourish ‘one on one’ interpersonal relationships, to believe in the positive resources of one’s interlocutors and to utilize these, to ‘live’ in the new digital spaces, knowing how to intercept and direct requests for meaning that are present in them, and at the same time to exercise, prudent, critical discernment. In this way, we can have an impact on communication at the service of a culture of encounter.