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2023.02.07 01:17

Salesian Bulletin 2023

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ANS - Rome) - With the upcoming International meeting of the Editors and Directors of Salesian Bulletin (Turin, April 21-26, 2023), a series of publications are planned on ANS that will delve on the origins, charism, mission, meaning and relevance of Salesian Bulletin. The first article published today on ANS is that of Fr Bruno Ferrero, Director of the Italian Salesian Bulletin. 
“Leave, the road will appear”, as the saying goes, can also be applied to Don Bosco. He had the qualities of a captain (today we would speak of a great startupper) with vision, courage, decision and a great capacity for resilience.
First of all, the Salesian adventure is based on Don Bosco's instinct as a communicator. His “clever smile”. His deep perception of men: “Already when he was young, he could study the character of my companions. And looking at someone's face, he saw the desires of his heart. For this reason among my peers he was much loved and much feared”.
He was described thus when he was ten years old. So it happened all his life. So, it seems, it still happens. So, the clever smile, the eye that perceives.  
And then the power of his words: “What gathered them around me and enticed them to the point of madness were the stories I narrated to them”. There are the words that would become powerful and capable of practical effects before they were uttered: One day a Police man, seeing me to impose silence with the wave of my hand, to the four hundred young people jumping and shouting in the meadow, began to exclaim: if this priest were a general, he could fight against the mightiest army in the world”.
At the origin of this power of speech, so decisive in    Don Bosco the communicator, there is something more fundamental than the content of words. The message comes later: in the beginning there is the wonder of a word that the interlocutor immediately perceives as being addressed to himself. The testimonies to this charism of the personalized word, which follows the charm of the knowing gaze, are innumerable.
Pope Ratti, the Pontiff who canonized Don Bosco and who had been Don Bosco's guest in the Pinardi House in the autumn of 1883, remembers: “There he was, answering everyone: and he had the right word for everything, so apt as to amaze: first he surprised and then astounded”.
Some objects served already as a message at the start and Don Bosco turned them into life-enabling proposals: “The good theologian Guala and Don Cafasso willingly gave me pictures, leaflets, medals, small crosses to give as gifts. Sometimes they gave me some clothes for those who were in greater need, and to give bread to others for several weeks”.
He soon realized, however, that the “one-to-one encounter” was neither sufficient nor lasting. His vision (and of the Lady of his dreams) led him much further.
Meanwhile he wrote an average of one book a month. Don Bosco, the communicator never stopped. He did not theorize; he had no plan other than passionately evangelizing and instinctively communicating.
Perhaps only one rule was followed by Don Bosco in moving from the means of existence to the means of communication: “Abandon the language and the warping of the classics, speak in the vernacular where you can, or even in Italian, but using popular language”. And from that rule came newspapers and books “to be placed in the hands of the popular classes”. The 'posters' titled 'Memories for Catholics', the "little book" with the title "Information to Catholics", up to the 'Catholic Readings' that began in 1853 had the aim of producing 'books for the people', in a 'simple style and popular language'.
Even his opponents could recognize him as having the 'great gift' of 'making oneself understood and being read by the people'. Making oneself understood is also the way to make enemies....
Around him, the world was changing vibrantly. Something new was unfolding. For Fr. Franco Peradotto, the historic director of 'La Voce del Popolo' and for 12 years president of the Fisc, “Turin and Piedmontese holiness has a particular charisma: journalism. An instrument of evangelization, solidarity, witness and service to the community” with Saints like John Bosco and Leonardo Murialdo, Blesseds James Alberione and Edward Joseph Rosaz, the Venerables Paul Pius  Perazzo and Eugenio Reffo, and the Servant of God John Barra. All champions of the 'good press'.
Towards the end of the same year 1876, Don Bosco confidentially told his people: “I am pleased to tell you the old things about the Oratory. Sometimes they are facts about Don Bosco. But I do not tell them with vainglory: oh no! thank God this has nothing to do with it. My aim is only to narrate the magnificence of God's power; to show that when God wants something, he uses any means, even the weakest, the most incapable, and makes him overcome every obstacle!”
He allowed these confidential matters to be divulged and founded the Salesian Bulletin to make his works better known and to procure material and moral support for them, and to inspire his followers. "We are in times," he observed, "in which we must work; the world has become material, so we must work and make known the good that we do. To one who even performs miracles, praying day and night in his cell, the world does not care: the world needs to see and touch".
“Publicity," he said on other occasions, "is the only means to make good works known and to support them. The world wants to see the clergy working, instructing and educating the poor and abandoned youth, with hospices, schools of arts and crafts: and this is the only means to save the poor youth, instructing them in Religion”.
The first major newspapers were born on a national level: the Corriere della Sera founded in Milan in 1876 and Il Messaggero in Rome in 1878. Right in between was Don Bosco’s Salesian Bulletin.
For about two years, the Oratory's printing house had been publishing almost a monthly sheet, whose purpose was to promote Salesian editions and other publications useful especially to youth and clergy. It bore the title Catholic Bibliophile. When in August 1877, the good coadjutor Barale placed the freshly printed copy of the last issue in his hand, Don Bosco looked at it and, as he often did, immediately understood the future potential it held and he further revolutionized it. The following issue had eight large two-column pages containing mainly Salesian communications and news; an appendix carried lists of books; hence, the title was double: Catholic Bibliophile or Salesian Monthly Bulletin. The Salesian Bulletin was born.
Don Bosco's window
One evening in 1851, from a window on the first floor, Don Bosco threw a handful of sweets among the boys. A great joy broke out, and a boy seeing him smiling at the window shouted to him: “Don Bosco, if you could see all the parts of the world, and in each of them so many oratories!”.
Don Bosco fixed his serene gaze on the air and replied: “Who knows, the day may come when the children of the Oratory are not truly scattered throughout the world”.
The Bulletin was to be an open window on the Salesian network that was to extend throughout the world. At the General Chapter of 2 July 1886, Don Bosco declared: “The Bulletin is not only the principal means, but also a necessary one for the Congregation[...] If the Bulletin and the Society of Co-operators are promoted with order and regularity, our Congregation would never lack material means” (MB 18,146).
All the Rector Majors have reiterated this: ”It is good that, entering into those modern perspectives that Don Bosco had in fact anticipated, we come to see in the Salesian Bulletin that special kind of publication that large organizations put out, to create a positive image of themselves in public opinion. The fruits will be reaped” (Don Ricceri, ACS, n.287,1977).
The responsibility of the Salesian Bulletin is to be the 'visiting card' of the congregation that invests both in the content and in the stylistic and graphic aspects. It is about presenting dynamically active congregation, also through a marketing operation.
It would offer the image of a Salesian, educational and religious movement with a particular methodology.
“Space will be given to Salesian activity in the world, especially to works that present a service to young people in avant-garde structures and in rehabilitating activities. Moreover, being a missionary congregation, it will be necessary for missionaries themselves to become "correspondents": what is not made known "does not exist" (Don Viganò, AGC 336, 1991, cited in n. 2).
The Italian Salesian Bulletin retains some specific characteristics even today. On the whole, national Salesian communication is not concerned with information, which is largely satisfied by the digital media.
The Salesian Bulletin places itself primarily for 'affective' connection with all members of the Salesian Family and friends of Don Bosco and his works.
For the time being, it remains mainly a paper product distributed by postal subscription, which is unfortunately expensive and has many critical issues.
The editorial parameters are:
Passion for the Congregation's mission, esteem and admiration for what the Salesians are doing in Italy and around the world, trying to make people feel that it is a work desired by Divine Providence.
The globalization of the Salesian charism and works. A generous and supportive human network that knows no boundaries.
Innovation with an optimistic view of the future: Salesian works are at the forefront of pedagogical and educational experience.
The quality of the journalistic presentation and its articulation should be as varied as possible.
The narration of people, their stories and Salesian experiences. Today, storytelling is the secret to gaining attention and empathy.
Understand facts and events concerning the congregation through simple and clear narratives.
Insight into the ideas and educational needs of today's society.
Listening to readers through some interactive columns.
Encourage concrete collaboration, suggesting ways to support Salesian works, especially those in difficult areas.
Spreading the values that emphasize the Salesian and Christian vision of life.

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