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On Communication in the Church

Interview With Dean of Salesian Communications Faculty

ROME, FEB. 21, 2007 (Zenit) - The new dean of the Salesian Faculty of Communications says that genuine communication is not measured by one's influence on others, but rather by the richness of the encounter.

In this interview with us, Father Franco Lever assessed the challenges of educating communicators in the Church.

Q: You are again in the office of dean. What priorities do you have as you begin this new assignment?

Father Lever: The didactic plan of the faculty of social communication is well defined and the experience of these years has confirmed the ideal nature of the options undertaken. I do not feel, therefore, the bearer of special novelties.

I am determined to make the faculty a place where students feel they are in an environment that stimulates them and supports them in carrying out their heartfelt projects, projects that have often been entrusted to them by their dioceses, or the religious or civil community to which they belong.

It must be an atmosphere of study, research and life for almost 200 young people from 35 different countries. Quite an undertaking!

Q: The Salesian University is well known for the attention it gives to multimedia formation. In your opinion, what is the strength of the communications studies it offers?

Father Lever: Our option -- our strong point but also our challenge -- is to study the means [of communication] using their same language. We believe that they cannot be understood without a direct experience of them and after having learned their language.

We also believe that, with the new means, processes of apprenticeship must be adopted similar to those adopted for centuries by writers: One is always taught to read and write, not just to read.

This is not only important for those who tomorrow will be media professionals. It is valid for researchers, educators, priests, and for anyone who wishes to communicate and to be understood by his contemporaries.

It is a more important option today because more and more technology is transforming what we thought were irremediably means of the masses into personal means. The individual is no longer a simple "reader."

Q: Is there a Salesian way of communicating?

Father Lever: We have asked ourselves that, but we are not sure we found the answer. For now, the effort is totally concentrated on understanding what it means to have genuine communication, measured not by the efficacy with which one interlocutor can influence another but by the richness of the encounter.

The objective is to know how to communicate as educators, proclaimers and servants of the Word, using in a professional way these wonderful means that technical development and God have put at our disposal.

As a Salesian, above all, there is in all of this the reason that stimulates us to pay special attention to the world in which young people live and breathe. Perhaps there is a certain style that comes from being with them.

I do not hide the fact that we would like the faculty to have the atmosphere of Don Bosco's oratory, an atmosphere at once spontaneous and full of determination.

Q: How do you assess communication in the Church?

Father Lever: I would not like us to think that our communication is good only because we speak of the Good.

So I would like us to follow Mother Teresa's strategy: to be such a surprise and novelty -- such a miracle -- that we would compel the media to speak about us -- a most effective and completely free system.

Q: Apart from your involvement in the field of communication, you are also a scholar of Jesus' cross.

Father Lever: Yes, I am passionate about the history of the sign of the cross and of the crucifix.

It is wonderful to review the history of these symbols, from the point of view of art, music, poetry, literature, theology and popular piety.

It is a passion that I want to transmit to students, so that they will be interested in understanding where we come from, to invite them to study the way in which our parents expressed the faith.


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Communication, Church, Salesian, Lever

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