This article aims at improving our knowledge of how to make good use of the new means of communication in the framework of our Society and our Mission. I will share my experience on using them especially in my ministry in Initial and Ongoing formation.
To be engaged in new means of communication is about surfing websites, journaling through blogging, engaging in social media applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram… through our laptops, tablets, and cell or smart phones.
These new means of communication have a vast impact on our lives as candidates and confreres. We are definitely talking of a ‘new culture’ emerging from modern technology. This is affecting the way we think, feel and behave; even more, the way we make sense of reality. Our Society and Mission are not immune to these influences.
It is important to identify the opportunities and risks for our mission unfolding with the advent of new means of communication. The opportunities are obvious such as the transmission of information to many people around the world simultaneously and instantaneously; we are more than ever interconnected. The risks are also evident; for instance, the easy access to information through the Internet bombards us with millions of bits of information with limited means to process them meaningfully. We can become superficial and, oddly enough, disconnected from one another. So, we could say that some sort of spirituality is needed when engaging with the new means of communication.
Relevant Ignatian spiritual attitudes
Now, I would like to focus on our Ignatian Spirituality. I want to highlight three key characteristics that are helping me to deepen the opportunities presented by the new means of communication and in becoming more alert to the risks:
- The first Ignatian attitude is being contemplatives in action: we are called to be reflective missionaries with a rich inner life who are deeply engaged in God’s work in the world. It is about seeing God in all things and journaling about it.
- The second attitude is about cultivating freedom, the need for discernment, and responsible action.
- The third attitude is an invitation to combine harmoniously our imagination, our emotional life, and our intellect.
These three Ignatian spiritual attitudes are the foundation for several initiatives. Up until now, I am endeavouring to use the new means of communication in Initial and Ongoing Formation Programs. I now want to present work I have undertaken in the area of designing and administering several blogs, as well as the use of modern media as a facilitation tool in workshops.
Blogging in initial formation
The first example is the blog of our Lavigerie Formation House in Jinja. This blog welcomes, entertains, and reflects on the positive energy driving our community. It aims at interconnecting different dimensions of our formation as it unveils a common generative spirit. The blog is a real training for missionary life; it is about journaling mindfully our community life, becoming a bridge to the world as we proclaim the good news of our living together to our families, friends, Christian communities, and benefactors at large. This blog also trains us to use the new means of communication in a mature, creative, and responsible way.
Another relevant example is the blog created as a platform for the animation of the meeting of temporary professed MSOLA in Burkina Faso last year. The blog became an online site where all the sisters agreed to share their experiences as they looked at their past in MSOLA with gratitude, their present with passion, and their future with hope. They also shared online, the appreciative interviews done with their senior sisters. It also tracked the flow of our workshop with an active participation from them. The blog has become a resource site where the larger family of MSOLA from all around the world can witness the liveliness of this new generation.
Blogging in Ongoing Formation
In the area of Ongoing Formation, I designed and administered three other blogs. The first one was created when I was doing my studies on Conflict Transformation. I decided to initiate a blog in order to contribute to the 125th Anniversary of the Anti-Slavery Campaign. The main strategy of this blog was to interview peace-builder activists from all around the world exploring new provocative and creative approaches to looking at slavery. It also became a place to make Lavigerie’s campaign better known and appreciated in relevant environments in the peace-building field.
A second blog on Ongoing Formation was designed as a resource site on Appreciative Discernment for the delegates to the Pre-Capitular Assembly of EAP, and eventually for all confreres in the Province. The delegates agreed to make daily reports on the activities of the assembly.
Finally, I created a blog last year to inform people about the new consortium on Ongoing Formation with MSOLA, the Spiritans, and SMA. The initiative is called the ICOF program. The blog gives information about the Joy-filled Gospel Service Renewal Program. Each participant agreed to write at least one article during the program and to post it online. A team of three animated the process. The blog is now a reference document for further programs and a way of publicizing the consortium in the African Missionary Environment.
Group self-awareness through audiovisuals
Similarly, over the last few years, I have been engaged in the use of video editing software applications like iMovie. This records and reflects back to candidates and workshop participants their engagement in the proposed different processes. We do this by turning workshop photos, video clips, and audios, into stunning movies for the animation of Initial and Ongoing Formation Programs. The groups concerned grow in self-awareness as they follow the flow of their activities through journaling using different media. All this is done following clear ethical standards, as all people concerned agree and consciously participate in the process.
The beneficial use of new means of communication requires a formation that goes beyond training in the critical use of media or media skills. Rather, it focuses on the emerging new language and new culture shaping the lives of our candidates and confreres. We need to construct together new means of communicating life by being, first of all, people of integrity, where creativity, honesty, openness and vulnerability are foundational values in our endeavour.
Yago Abeledo, M.Afr.
Reference Blog addresses :
- Initial Formation:
Lavigerie Formation House, Jinja: http://mafr-jinja.blogspot.ug
Crossing the Threshold, MSOLA Temporary Vows: http://msolatemporaryvows.blogspot.ug
- Ongoing Formation:
Conflict Transformation in the Here and Now:
ICOF program: http://icofprogram.blogspot.ug
Appreciative Discernment: http://appreciativediscernment.blogspot.ug