Thursday, June 4, 2009

Salesian Bulletin Editors Meet in Rome

Salesian Bulletin Editors Meet in Rome

On Monday, May 18, we came at last to the primary reason for my trip to Rome. The editors (direttori in Italian) of 23 Salesian Bulletins from five of the six inhabited continents met at Salesian headquarters (“the Pisana,” from its address at 1111 via della Pisana) from the 18th to the 20th. The week before there had been a separate meeting in Munich just for editors of European editions of the SB.

Display of Salesian Bulletins from all over the world, at Salesian HQ in Rome. The signs say "131 Nations" [where the Salesians minister] and "29 Languages." Like Heinz, the Bulletin comes in 57 varieties (editions).
The meeting was prepared and presided over by Fr. Filiberto Gonzalez, member of the general council responsible for communications media, and Fr. Giancarlo Manieri, editor of the Italian SB. The key topics were self-evaluations since the last general meeting of SB editors (Rome, September 2005), the nature and essential components of the SB, and approaches for improving and expanding the SB in the next few years.

The editors met in three language groups (Italian, Spanish, English) on the first morning to critique their magazines: how have we improved them since 2005, and what do we still need to do? We met again on the last morning to discuss follow-up from this meeting.

One of the Latin American editors speaking at the first session of our meeting.

In Monday afternoon Fr. Vito Orlando, communications professor at the Salesian Pontifical University, and the Rector Major addressed us—all in Italian. But Fr. Orlando had a good PowerPoint outline that made him easy enuf to follow, and the RM’s Italian isn’t complicated. Plus, he stopped now and then to invite questions or comments.
Fr. Vito Orlando speaking to us, with the aid of a well-presented PowerPoint
Both Fr. Orlando and Fr. Chavez presented the SB as an instrument of the entire Salesian Congregation (not of the editor alone or even of a single province/country). Its job is to present the authentic face of Don Bosco and the Salesian Family to the world, and the world to the Salesian Family through a Salesian prism—to give a Salesian slant to events and issues of concern to Church and society. It is to link everyone who believes he or she is a part of the Salesian world. Both stressed that the SB editor represents Don Bosco himself to the magazine’s readers. The editor has to have a keen awareness of the present situation of the Church, of the modern world (issues like globalization, communication, education), of modern society (multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural). Everything in the world is in some sense Salesian. They also pointed to the need for a clear mission statement and editorial policy known to all who contribute to the SB.
The Rector Major, Fr. Chavez, didn't need a PowerPoint. He speaks with both authority and fatherly familiarity--and in a fairly simple Italian, which of course isn't his own first language.
It's pretty automatic at any gathering to pose with the Rector Major at the statue of Don Bosco in the Generalate's foyer. The photographer needed to take a step back to get us all in--and of course everyone wanted a shot of this sort. Fr. Filiberto is to DB's right. I'm third from the right. A lot of us also got small group or individual shots with the RM; I posted one such earlier.
In his presentation on Tuesday morning, Fr. Julian Fox, Fr. Gonzalez’s executive assistant in the communications department, used PowerPoint and a lot of Italian and English to describe the new media (e.g., the Internet in all its varieties: the Web, blogs, chat rooms, FaceBook YouTube, Twitter, and all such things) as a new social event using a new language with its own grammar and syntax. He made numerous suggestions on how to use it more effectively. He recommended getting the SB on-line in an active (note merely archival) edition, commending the Argentine provinces for their version that’s already up and running (
Fr. Fox fields a question on computer technology and its uses.

We had an afternoon field trip to the Vatican Polyglot Press, which prints the Holy See’s L’Osservatore Romano and various books and programs and which is directed by the Salesians.

In this room the plates are produced that will be set into the presses--no more "hot lead" to be set in this business.
In one of several very large press rooms, a press swallows a huge amount of paper in very little time and then spits out pages of books, pamphlets, or L'Osservatore Romano.

Some of our group admire the finished product: tonite's paper!

The small square (largo) between two of the Vatican Press buildings is named for St. John Bosco. Eight Salesians live in a community within the Vatican, seven of them involved with the publishing and printing. (The eighth works in the secretariat of state with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB.)

We also had some free time for sightseeing in or near the Vatican. Yours truly and Fr. Fox visited Castel Sant’Angelo, which used to be the papal fortress but is now a state museum (photo below).

The castle takes its name from the large statue of St. Michael the Archangel at its top.
From the roof of the castle you get some fine views of the city--not to compare with what you'd see from the dome of St. Peter, to be sure (I've never gone up there). This view focuses on another dome, that of the very large church of St. John Bosco in the Cinecitta' section of Rome.

Much closer at hand is the Tiber, which is a rather scuzzy-looking river. The closer bridge is the Victor Emmanuel Bridge. The hill at the right rear is the Janiculum, at the top of which is the North American College, the Roman seminary of the U.S. bishops where our new archbishop of New York was rector from 1994 to 2001.

At meeting’s end, Fr. Filiberto summed up by urging the SB editors to involve the entire Salesian Family in their magazines; continue to improve our design, e.g. by making it more graphic, more pictorial; remember the universal dimensions of its contents; prepare an editorial policy; develop working and evaluation teams; evaluate our product regularly; undertake what Benedict XVI has called “the journey of the ‘digital continent’” in small but steady steps to evangelize that continent where the young live; remember that the SB is the public face of the Congregation, and the editor is the image of Don Bosco.
Most of the English-language group on the last morning, with Fr. Giancarlo Manieri (standing). We were an eclectic group, for sure: Korean, Slovenian, Maltese, French, American, Thai, and Chinese!

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