The Don Bosco Communications South Asia (DBCSA) Seminar and General Assembly was held by the SDB Mumbai Province at Don Bosco Provincial House Matunga from 15-18 October, 2013 with the theme: ‘SOCIAL MEDIA AND SALESIAN YOUTH MINISTRY’. 50 SDB delegates representing 11 Salesian provinces, 4 FMAs, Jesuit(1) and diocesan(1) took part in this event.
The FMAs who participated were Sr. Phyllis Fernandes, Sr. Shanti Fernandes, Sr. Hilda Braganza from our Province and Sr. Ann Andrews (INC).
The special dignitaries include Fr. Filiberto Gonzalez sdb, General Councilor for Social Communications, Br. Ephrem Santos sdb, Secretary – General Councilor for Social Communications, Fr. Thomas Ellicherail sdb SPCSA, Provincial in-charge of Social Communications and Fr. Godfrey D’Souza sdb, Provincial of the Mumbai Province.
The inaugural Holy Eucharist was presided over by His Lordship Dominic Savio Fernandes, Auxiliary Bishop of Mumbai. At the Inaugural Ceremony, Fr. Anthony Earathra, SPCSA Communications Delegate welcomed all the participants. Fr. Michael Fernandes sdb, former provincial of Mumbai, welcomed the delegates to the city of Mumbai.
The hymn ‘This little guiding light of mine’ was sung and a lamp was lit by his Lordship Bp. Dominic Savio Fernandes, Fr. Filiberto Gonzalez, Br. Ephrem Santos, Fr. Thomas Ellicherail, and Fr. Godfrey D’Souza Provincial Mumbai.
Following the prayer moment, bouquets were handed to the distinguished guests, and Fr. Filiberto presented a memento to Bp. Dominic Savio Fernandes, Fr. Godfrey D’souza, and Fr. Michael Fernandes the ex-provincial of the province of Mumbai.
This was followed by brief addresses given by Frs. Michael Fernandes, Filiberto Gonzales, and Thomas Ellicherail respectively. Fr. Michael humorously briefed on the specialty of Mumbai City, and through the incident in the life of Mother Theresa where a sick woman experienced her heart lit up on her encounter with Mother, drove home the message that today more than media technology, we need to emphasize the content of media and this content is best communicated by our very persons.
Fr. Filiberto communicated the warm greetings and prayers from the Rector Major, and thanked Fr. Godfrey D’souza the Provincial, Fr. Joaquim Fernandes and Fr. Anthony Earathara the convenors of this assembly, and welcomed the distinguished speakers who would share their insights right through the seminar. He expressed the prayer that we profit from this gathering hopeful that it may help us in the service of Youth.
Fr. Thomas Ellicherail brought to the participants the greetings of Fr. Maria Arockiam Kanaga President of Social Communication SPCSA and Fr. Noel Madichetty Secretary of SC SPCSA. He expressed his eagerness to participate in this programme with the purpose of seeing how we could arrest our tendencies of being fragmented in our own areas, and strengthen our networking and pooling of resources across provinces at the SPCSA level.
The Keynote address was delivered by Mr. Conrad Saldanha, Principal Advisor to Don Bosco Centre for Learning, Kurla, Mumbai, he spoke on the theme: ‘Social Media and Salesian Youth Ministry’. Mr. Saldanha highlighted the cultural shifts undergone by the media of Social Communications, and the key trends in Social Media with its positive and negative impacts on the young. He challenged all to use Social Media to Promote the Gospel and as Pope Francis says, “give the Church a digital presence”
Mr. Yogesh Sahu – General Manager, NE Mobile elaborated on ‘Social Media: Challenges and Opportunities in Digital Publishing’. He explained how one can publish their books virally, and informed the assembly on the Publishing Platforms available in the digital world, Digital Rights Management, and how Social Media helps in promoting Book Content through engines like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Linkedin and the like.
Mr. Nishad Ramachandran, Vice President, Hansa Cequity spoke passionately on the theme ‘Viral Marketing and Advertising: Strategies for Social Networks for Youth’. He elaborated how Social Media has created a socially connecting world which is driving change and creating new opportunities. Through enthralling videos he explained the positive effects of Facebook, What’s App, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and other social networking engines that have not only kept people connected, but have brought about social change, helped in creating, learning, discovering ideas, loaning, and making a creative and positive impact on humanity.
Sr. Phyllis Fernandes, FMA, Ex-President of Signis Western Region gave a presentation on ‘Educating through Media ’. She explained how education has evolved and how the Edu-communication initiative in her province helped generate Media Education Texts for classes 1 – 12. Edu-Communication helps to think differently, looking through new glasses. It is creating an Educational Space where communication takes place among individuals, groups, and communities. She explained that media education should touch the integrality of the human person.
Fr. George Plathottam, sdb, Secretary CBCI, and Director NISCORT, presented ‘New Initiatives in Social Communication by the Church in India’. He spoke of the CBCI project handed to BOSCOM for preparing Course Materials for Seminary Formation in India on Communication for Pastoral Leadership, and expressed his concern that Salesians aren’t capitalizing on the use of these Salesian Productions. He mentioned that some Organizations like: Indian Christian Artists’ Forum; Christian Publishers Network; Media Faculties Network; Media Research Group; National Forum for Tribal and Folk Media; and Catholic Broadcasters Network have been started through CBCI Office of Social Communications. The CBCI Website, as also a Website Policy has been developed. We as Salesians need to collaborate with other Social Communication Bodies in our Country like SIGNIS, and ICPA (Indian Catholic Press Association). An important initiative in the pipe-line is to join forces through an ecumenical body called Indian Christian Media Association (ICMA) with the aim of policy intervention with Government. We need to be relevant and connect with the world today.
Fr. Ralin De Souza sdb, Director BOSKON Communications- Goa, presented a relevant talk on ‘Social Media Secrets in Catholic Youth Ministry – 21st Century Catholicism’. Beginning with quotes from the Rector Major where we are called to take cognizance of the Crisis of Credibility, Fr. Ralin expressed concern over the fact that in the Digital world, while on the one hand we are able to reach out to millions, on the other we are losing on the personal human touch. He challenged the assembly with questions like: How do we redeem the Human touch in communicating the faith? How many youth have really come to know Christ because of me as a Salesian? How many have been touched by me and have changed their lives? He said, the secret of human communication lies within us. Our challenge is to get the person of Christ to as many youngsters as possible and help them find meaning in life. To achieve this we need to have a Presence on Social Media, it must be a Catholic Presence with faith oriented interactions. We must promote Catholic Media Initiatives with the youth, explore new frontiers, and foster youth collaborations.
The interactive session with Youth on Social Media at Don Bosco Centrte for Learning, Kurla, made us realize that youth by virtue of the new platforms of interaction and communication find themselves in constant connect with the world, without which they find difficult to survive. As media practitioners and youth ministers we realize that our presence in this digital world is so very important. In the face-to-face interaction with the young we were challenged to plunge and accompany them in their virtual world as ‘Shepherds’.
This is possible when we focus on the richness of ourselves and be rooted in CHRIST, deepened in the Silent moments of prayer and reflection on the Word of God, like Mary our guide. Though we are from diverse states, cultures, habits and attitudes, we are ONE body with a common mission. This inspires us to pool our resources in synergy and embark on a journey into the digital world accompanying the young. We share the anxieties and hopes of the young and being prophets in their midst, like DON BOSCO, a catalyst in the use of media, we build relationships, appreciate and acquire their skills, making them conscious of social issues, helping them to participate and connect them to the real world.
The Social Communications Reports of the SDB Provinces and the FMA INDIA were enriching and thought provoking. Sr. Hilda Braganza, FMA INDIA National Coordinator for Social Communications, shared the initiatives in the FMA Social Communications field carried on among the Sisters. She presented a consolidated report of six FMA provinces. Among the many appreciable elements it is nice to see that the FMAs have created Media Education Syllabus for both Formal and Non-formal sectors. Sr. Hilda was handed a memento by Fr. Filiberto Gonzales in appreciation for the initiatives carried out by FMA INDIA in Social Communications.
Fr. Filiberto in his concluding message said, “Bring your life to your people. Bring the Gospel of hope to people, through Social Communication. Don’t worry about media but worry about giving your life for them. That’s the best communication. Never forget our virgin mother.” He then blessed the assembly.
Highlights of the Meet:
Inauguration of the New theatre at Don Bosco Kurla
Launching of the Don Bosco Communications South Asia You tube Site by Fr. Filiberto Gonzalez
Encounter with the Cardinal and the Bishops of Archdiocese of Mumbai
A visit to the Pagoda