“Less is more”: this truism applies even in the field of communication. It holds true if the gaze focusses on contemplation, discerning the keys to reality. This, in turn, elicits a deeper interpretation, recognizing and sharing the presence of God in the experience. The presence of the ocean in front of the St. Ignatius Retreat House in Rodízio, Portugal, was a sign and shared memory of a common challenge: to take to the sea together, facing the challenges and opportunities of digital culture, with competence and a spirit of service.
Keys to contemplating the everyday
“Less is more”: this truism applies even in the field of communication. It holds true if the gaze focusses on contemplation, discerning the keys to reality. This, in turn, elicits a deeper interpretation, recognizing and sharing the presence of God in the experience. Only such a new approach can dare to be present on the web as “outgoing church”, navigating the algorithms and social bubbles, without risk of losing authenticity, identity, and a spirit of service. It provides a freedom that is clear in its purpose, and not captive to numbers and statistics, used only to intercept the user, his life, passions and deep questions.
This approach responds to these questions soberly, creatively, and charitably, navigating the expected waves with patience and love, to offer questions and generate deep encounters.
These are some of the themes shared by the 20 communications officers from the European Provinces of the Society of Jesus. They came together from 9 to 12 May in Rodízio, Portugal. France-French speaking Belgium, England, the Netherlands and the Dutch speaking Belgium, Spain, Italy-Malta-Albania-Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria-Germany-Lithuania-Latvia-Switzerland, Hungary, the Near East and Maghreb, as well as Portugal sent representatives. Present, too, were members of the General Curia’s Communications Office.
Focus and themes
There were three main presentations. The first was “The Challenges of Digital Culture” by Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ. He emphasized that the Internet is not a virtual world but an environment and experience. He highlighted the spiritual significance of digital technology, and the related challenges: moving from response to demand, from content to people, from transmission to sharing, from bubbles filtered by search engines to diversity, combining interiority and interactivity.
Fernando Ilharco, an Associate Professor of the Faculty of Human Sciences at the Catholic University of Lisbon, spoke on “Digital Culture as a New Sensibility for Young People”. Referring to digital space, he highlighted the tension and impact that image and text have in the new media. Finally, Rita Fevereiro, an expert in digital marketing, provided updated data on the main social media platforms and, in the group activities she led, focused on how users may use communication tools appropriately.
A network for young adults
Fr. John Dardis SJ, the director of the Communications Office of the General Curia, presented a project of a global network dedicated to the young adults. This can be a tool at the service of one of the Universal Apostolic Preferences, which calls for accompanying young people: after all, young people enter this digital environment so pervasively (for more information on this, please contact Germán Muñoz at the General Curia).
Portuguese experiences: from the Brotéria cultural centre to Magis2023
Time was also given in the agenda of the meeting to learning about two initiatives of the Lisbon Jesuits. First, there is Brotéria, a cultural center in the heart of the capital that promotes conversations, exhibitions, performances, seminars and workshops with its related communication plan. Secondly, there is the exhibition on St. Ignatius set up at the church of São Roque, to promote the Ignatian Year.
The closing day of the conference was dedicated to a meeting with the Magis2023 team, the world gathering of young people from the Ignatian family. Young people between the ages of 18 and 30, are scheduled to gather from 22 to 31 July 2023 in Portugal, in the days leading up to World Youth Day with Pope Francis.