225 - february 1999

Announcing theGood News
in the Information Society
Alfred A. HubenigO.M.I.


Table of Contents

Editor’s foreword
Introduction
A Universal Phenomenon
The Information Revolution Impacts on the Good News
The Oblate Charism within the Informational Revolution
Communicating the Good News in a New Language
Initial Formation
Communication – not just for Experts
And Still Another Factor in the Equation – the Internet
What Can We Do Specifically?

1. A Theology of Communications
2. A Pastoral Communications Plan and OBCOM
3. Make Friends in the Media
4. Become Active on the Internet
5. In the Third WorldMore Radio

2000 – a Year of Jubilee
Notes


 

Editor’s foreword

 

"CyberspaceE-mailInternetwebsitehome page...."These are but a few words that point to a communication explosion anda new communication culture before which "we may feel helplessoverwhelmedand inadequate." Fr Alfred Hubenigin this paper prepared for thecapitulars of the 1998 General Chaptercomes back to an oft-repeatedtheme of our Oblate documents"Oblates and communication."He presents an update of the challenges todayand offers some specificproposals for meeting the challengeeven for those who are not or willnever become experts.

Fr. Hubenig (St. Mary’s Province) is the CanadianRegion’s representative on the Oblate Communication (OBCOM) NetworkAnimation Committee.

We make use of this occasion to remind our readers thatOMI Documentation and OMI Information are available on theInternet in EnglishFrench and Spanish at <http://www.omiobcom.org>.

 

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Introduction

 

In 1816 Eugene de Mazenod looked about his native Provenceand saw a situation that called for "apostolic men deeply consciousof the need to reform themselvesmen who would labour with all the resourcesat their command to convert others." And he observed"How vastthe field that lies before them! How worthy and holy the undertaking!"(Preface)

Todaythe successors of those first few apostolic menfind themselves in fields even more vast and dauntingand in an undertakingno less worthy and holy than in 1816. The 1986 general chapter of theCongregation observed:

We are engaged in our mission at a specific momentof timea moment characterized by special needs that challenge ourwork of evangelization¼(MTW 3) We live in a world that is secularizedor quickly becoming so¼ (Technology) touches every aspect oflife and shapes a new person¼ (MTW 31). It is useless to complainabout the world or to seek to flee from it. For usOblatescooperatorswith Christ in the work of salvation (CC 1 & 2) this world cannotbe alien territory. We are part of it and we are constantly influencedby itfor better or worse. (MTW 37)

When announcing the Good News in today’s secularizedworldone of the major challenges the missionary Oblate faces is theinformation and communication explosion. Never before in the history ofhumankind have such vast amounts of information intruded upon our livesso pervasively and with such instantaneousness. Indeedthe phenomenongoes far beyond merely transmitting information. The computer is creatinga new communication culturea technological and cultural revolution farsurpassing anything the industrial revolution of the 19th centurybrought about. The European Ecumenical Commission for Church and Societystated in a 1996 report:

Todaycomputer technology touches every area of ourlives and is in the process of changing the way we workdo businessmake moneymanagethink and communicate. No one knows where it istaking usbut it has set us on our way! Politicians tell us that wemust not miss the boat and lose power to those who will dominate throughtheir command of these technologies.1

    Before such an onslaught we frequently feel helplessoverwhelmed and inadequate to the task. And yet our charism and our callingas apostolic men sends us out to preach the Good News to the poor andthe abandoned in this daunting new world.

    A Universal Phenomenon
    This new information revolution is not just reserved to the UnitedStatesJapan and Canadawhere information technology was first promotedand areas of applications first opened. Western Europetoois preparingand creating cyber-markets of the futurewhile in the former EasternBloc they are frantically catching upafter years of pervasive censorship.2

    All over the industrial world the digitalized languageof ones and zeros that make up computer data is cross-pollinating thecommunication media and changing the way households function. Televisionby the year 2000 will integrate the telephonea personal computer withWorld Wide Web accessinteractive programmingand even a video gamesystem. Prototypes for much of this technology are already in place. 2.2million tiny mirrorsfor exampleare already on a postage-stamp-sizedchipmoving in unison to produce stunning TV imagesand hologram transmissioninto homes is on the planning boards. The set-top boxlong in use throughoutmuch of western Europe to connect consumers to services such as pay-forview televisionon-line shoppingticket purchases and bankingis nowpreparing to launch into computer-generated ITV (interactive television)with video-on-demandthe World Wide Web and the fabled "500 channels."At the same timemany life-skills are already being learned through virtualreality.

    But a radically changing world is not reserved to theindustrial nations. In the Third Worldthere is not a jungle or an outbacknot a desert or a mountaintopnot an isolated cabin in the bush or asteamy favela in a megalopolis that does not at least have itstransistor radios; and even nowa growing crop of television antennaeis sprouting in many of these placespulling in the signals of metropolitanor small rural transmitters. Not only is this new revolution bringingthe global village ever closer to realityit is making the global universityboth an increasing possibility and a double-edged sword that could makethe gap between the well and poorly educated even greater. Federico MayorDirector General of UNESCOcommented:

    New information and communication technologiesespeciallythe Internetare offering researcherseducatorsartists and administratorsall over the world an opportunity to form the most cultivatedspecializedversatile and active intellectual community the world has ever known.3

    The InformationRevolution Impacts on the Good News
    Almost imperceptiblythis new information revolution is quickly changingthe patterns and style of our life. It is a force with tremendous potentialfor goodyet often the deep changes it brings about are negative andmaterialistic. Indeedin less than a generation the influence of orchestratedicons and manipulatively hyped mega-products has all but supplanted thewisdom and experience of family elders. Even in remote regions consumerismsupplants traditional values. In his InstructionAt the Dawn of aNew Era (Ætatis Novæ)Pope John Paul II observes:

    Today’s revolution in social communications involvesa fundamental reshaping of the elements by which people comprehend theworld about themand verify and express what they comprehend. The constantavailability of images and ideasand their rapid transmission evenfrom continent to continenthave profound consequencesboth positiveand negativefor the psychologicalmoral and social development ofpersonsthe structures and functioning of societiesinterculturalcommunicationsand the perception and transmission of valuesworldviewsideologies and religious beliefs. The communication revolutioneven affects perceptions of the Churchand has a significant impacton the Church’s own structures and mode of functioning.

    All this has striking pastoral implications¼As media become ever more intertwined with people’s daily livesthey influence how people understand the meaning of life itself. Indeedthe power of the media extends to defining not only what people willthinkbut even what they will think about. Realityfor manyis whatthe media recognize as real. What media do not acknowledge seems oflittle importance.

      The Oblate Charismwithin the Informational Revolution
      So what does all this mean to the Oblate missionary today? To seekan answer to thatI believe we must again go back to our Founder andhis founding charism. What did Eugene de Mazenod do when faced with thesituation of southern France in 1816? He gathered a group of apostolicmen ( priests in that case ( and togetherthey went throughout Provencetirelessly announcing the Good News to the most abandoned. Their messagewas highly visual and dramaticand it really was good newsfar differentfrom the bad news of the Jansenists. Moreover de Mazenod insisted vigorouslythat his missionaries proclaim that Good News in Provençalthelanguage of the poor and the unattended. Laterwhen the Oblates wentinto overseas missionshe insisted just as vigorously that they learnand work in the language of the people they were sent to evangelize. Someof those early missionary Oblates became linguistic experts and even wrotegrammars and dictionariesbut all the missionaries spoke the local languageand idiom. It was part of the Oblate charism of being close to the poor.Perhaps this should tell us something in our present situation about theway we are to proclaim the Good News in our world. Today we are priestsbrothers and lay associates all sharing the charism of Saint Eugene deMazenod. We are missionaries to a new world wherein we remain inspiredby the same "call of Jesus Christheard within the Church throughthe people’s need for salvation." (C.1) And just as in the Founder’sdayour mission continues to place us with"those people whosecondition cries our for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christcan fully bring ... the poor with their many faces." (C.5) The charismis the same; the call is the same. But the situation has changed. Thepoor have many more faces. And today’s poor frequently speak a newlanguage.
      Living in a largely nihilist and secularist world that often sees no Godno past and no futurea rootless and depressed generation – GenerationX – is frequently unclear in its direction. It is a generation withten times the suicide rate of previous generations; a generation thatwants to belong to somethingyet feels abandoned; a generation that hungersfor the transcendentalyet shows little loyalty to church institutionand often considers church pronouncements as inconsequential. To fillthe emptiness of not belongingthis generation frequently resorts togangsdrugs and superficial sex. To explore the transcendental it readsThe Celestine Prophecy rather than John of the Cross and listensto the lyrics of hard rock rather than the psalms. Thic Nhat HahntheVietnamese Buddhist monkbest known for his work in the peace movementinsists that the greatest problem in our world is the large number ofyounger people roaming the earth without any familyeither biologicalor spiritual. They hunger for familyfor their historyfor their lineageand see themselves as an abandoned generation.5 Our charismcalls us to the most abandoned.

      Communicating theGood News in a New Language
      The need for the written word remainsand Oblates have a historyof communicating the Good News effectively through magazinesnewspapersand books. But new avenues to communicate in the language of the cyberworldpeopled by Generation X must also be explored. Oblate Father Pierre Babinstates

      Gutenberg’s genius was to teach and explain¼Nowthe mediawith their enormous power to influence the massesaregradually imposing another language¼ They speak in images andstories; they replace coordinating conjunctions with gesticulationsand oral soundsdramatizing everything. In a wordwe are falling intoa language of modulation wherein vibrating together is more importantthan thinking rationally....

      Being a schoolmanI have long thought the message was conveyed by wordswords all the more valid because they are written. Now the light andsound vibrations of technical instruments are shaking up the importancegiven to the abstract concepts and signs that are words. Henceforthwhat comes first in the message is vibrationorin technical jargon"modulation."

      The messageconsequentlyis not contained in the ideas transmittedbut in the effects they produce. An example: Pope John Paul II is saidto be "mediatic" or media-minded. It is not his encyclicalsor the intellectual content of his speeches that evangelizebut histravels and gestures. In Thailand I heard that a number of people wereconverted to Christianity during the pope’s visit to their country."For this man to do everything that he succeeds in doing"they said"God must be with him." Kissing a child afflictedwith AIDSdialoguing with his would-be assassinthis evangelizes!Not that his encyclicals and speeches (generally read) are unimportantand unnecessary: the Church could hardly do without the discipline (attimes authoritarian) of wordsnor without the intellectualism (occasionallyideological) of its teachings. The primary language of evangelizingis similar to that of the media. It is the warmth of gesturesbodylanguageinterior convictions – in summarythe language of theheart’s vibrations. This experience relates to both the individualand social or communitarian body.

        Are we familiarizing ourselves with this new sensateand intuitive language of the media culture to effectively "bearwitness to God’s holiness and justiceannouncing the liberatingpresence of Jesus Christ in a new world born in his resurrection?"(C.9) Are we equipped to incarnate that same Jesus Christ into the image-retainingconsciousness of today’s most abandoned so that the agora of massmedia becomes the areopagus of the Good News of the Unknown God?

        Initial Formation
        A question must be asked: is our initial formation gearing to thenew media culture?

        In 1992 the Oblate General Chapter observed that themedia have a determining influence on the contemporary person and areincreasinglythereforean integral part of evangelization. Accordinglyin their closing statement the chapter members incorporated the following:

        The 1992 General Chapter requests that initial formationinclude an adequate preparation in Medianot only as a technologybut also as a culture (WAC 3).

        Has anything concrete been undertaken in this regard?

        Pope John Paul II has also made an urgent appeal:

        Education and training in communications should bean integral part of the formation of pastoral workers and priests. Thereare several distinct elements and aspects to the education and trainingthat are required. For examplein today’s worldso strongly influencedby the mediaChurch personnel require at least a grasp of the impactthat new information technologies and mass media are having upon individualsand society. They must likewise be prepared to minister both to the"information-rich" and the "information-poor." Theyneed to know how to invite others into dialogueavoiding a style ofcommunicating that suggests dominationmanipulationor personal gain.As for those who will be actively engaged in media work for the Churchthey need to acquire professional skills in media along with doctrinaland spiritual formation.

          The Pope wants it.

          The Congregation needs it.

          We have the expertise.

          Do we have the will to do it?

          At this point overworked Oblate formators and harried scholastics areprobably thinking"Oh nonot more courses!" But the timesdo indeed call for communication to enter into Oblate formationnot asa mere appendixbut as an intrinsic part of the curriculum. The samecould also be said in regard to ongoing formation. Yetthis is not somuch a call to add still more media courses or technical workshops toan already heaped plate of formation studiesas it is an appeal to formatorsfirst and foremost. If they are going to teach young Oblates to announcethe Good News in the new millenniumthey will have to familiarize themselveswith the new non-linear language of the media culture – to "vibratewith its modulations" – so that they can take its terms andmanner of expression into the aula and the classroom. Moreoverwe desperatelyneed a theology of communication that sees the implications for ecclesiologyin the new revolution and examines the anthropologicalsociologicalphilosophical and ethical realities of life in the cyberworld. CardinalEtchegarythe former archbishop of Marseillesurged"We must gobeyond the ethics of communication to a communication of ethics. Thismeans we must be bearers of values so that men and women can discovera glimmer of God."

          In their thirty-fourth General Congregationheld in 1995the Jesuitsstressed the importance of justice in communication and the communicationof ethics.

          Communication is a powerful tool that must be usedin the promotion of justice in the world. But we must also look at theauthoritarian methods and unjust structures of communication and informationorganizations themselves. The promotion of justice within communicationcalls for the coordinated action of Christians and other people of goodwillin several areas. Freedom of the press and information must be promotedin countries where they are non-existent or threatened by state controlor ideological manipulation. An equitable flow of communication betweenindustrialized and developing countries needs to be established. Atpresentthe rich countries dominate the world with informationfilmsand television programs. The voices and images of less powerful nationsand cultures are largely absent from the global village. All Jesuitsespecially philosopherstheologianssocial scientiststhose directlyinvolved in the promotion of justiceas well as those involved in theproduction of creative worksshould be conversant with communicationethics.

            The document says "all Jesuits" but we couldjust as well substitute "all Oblates." Our Constitutions andRules remind us that as Oblates "We are members of the propheticChurch¼ We announce the liberating presence of Jesus Christ andthe new world born in his resurrection. We will hear and make heard theclamour of the voiceless." (C. 9) In the present contextthis wouldcertainly seem to imply a renewed approach in the struggle for justiceand at least a grounding in communication ethics.


             

             

             

            Communication –not just for Experts
            It is too easy to say that formation in media culture is for the experts(let those so inclined pursue the proper studies at a post-graduate leve).Indeedsome Oblates will be directly engaged in media and will requirespecialized trainingbut learning the language of the new media cultureis not a field reserved to experts. It is a necessity for every personwho would effectively share his or her faith in the new Information Society.Of coursejust as in our early Oblate history we had men talented inlinguistics who expertly wrote grammars and dictionariesso today wehave Oblates and Oblate associates who are experts in media. But the questiongoes beyond experts. All Oblates must learn to cope with the new languageof media culturejust as missionaries in the past – and today –have had to learn the language of the people they were sent to serve.We do so to better communicate the Good News – to evangelize –and also to help people discern the messages that bombard them daily.Communication must not be seen simply as a specialized apostolate; ratherwe must come to realize that it is a dimension that increasinglycovers every aspect of all our apostolic efforts.

            Learning a new language is not easy. Any missionarywho has had to do so has felt the initial frustration of listening tothe ease with which children express themselves while we try breakingthrough the barriers of alien thought patterns and twisting our protestingtongues around unaccustomed sounds. But once we were able to communicatein the language of the peoplewhat a difference it made to our credibilityand to the credibility of our message! It is no different in today’scomputerized cyberworld. We stumble and stammer into a world where evenchildren play with ease. It can be uncomfortable; it can be frustrating– even embarrassing at times. The alternative is to remain snuglyon the outsidedoing what we have always done in the same way we havealways done it – and dooming ourselves to technological illiteracywherein we announce a message of Good News that will go largely unheard.But such an alternative is not of our Oblate charism. Saint Eugene continuesto call Oblates today to be "apostolic men deeply conscious of theneed to reform themselvesmen who would labour with all the resourcesat their command to convert others." (Prefacep. 8)

            And Still AnotherFactor in the Equation – the Internet
            We cannot speak of evangelizing in the cyberworld or of the new informationrevolution without including its most recent and perhaps most impactingphenomenonthe globalized system of computerized connections called theInternet. In 1961 a journalist with The New Yorker wrote"Freedomof the press belongs to the man who owns one." Todaybecause ofthe Internetit might be more accurate to say that freedom of the pressbelongs to anyone who can type into a computer. We may view the Internetwith trepidation or enthusiasmbut we cannot deny that it is one of themost revolutionary and vast sources of instant information and interpersonalcommunication in our world today. Nor can we deny that although its impactmay still be minimal in some parts of the Third Worldit is changingpatterns and life-styles all around us. In two recent surveys taken sixmonths apart in the United States and Canadause of the Internet wasseen to have jumped fifty per cent among those sixteen years and olderin the sampling!11 It is estimated that at least fifty millionpeople are already surfing the Internetand the number is increasinggeometrically. By the year 2000 an incredible 1500000000 persons willbe on the Internet!

            While the United StatesJapan and Canada remain inthe forefrontthe number of connections to the Internet in other countriesis far from insignificant. In FranceGermany and Britainthe Internethas now surpassed connections to other new media (notably cable and satelliteconnections).12 Throughout Asiamoreoverit is proliferatingat astounding speedand one of Mainland China’s preoccupations inthe takeover of Hong Kong on July 11997is precisely the Territory’swidespread use of the Net.13 To the southbecause a news agencypublished an item about Bolivian miners on the InternetOblates in Boliviareceived Spanish e-mail via the Internet from all over the world. We aredealing with a worldwide phenomenon that can only grow.

            The Internet’s great drawing card is its interactivity(being able to communicate on a computer monitor with people around theworld). Through itmuch of today’s interpersonal communication andlively discussion are taking place. An incredible number of open forumsand "chat rooms" provide an opportunity for users to join indebates and garner information of all kinds. That is what could make ita privileged areopagus on which to announce the Good News. St Eugene admonishedus wherever new needs arisenew means should be found. There is a newneed in evangelizationand the Internet appears to be a new means tocarry it out.

            What Can We DoSpecifically?
            It is fine to talk in theoretical terms about announcing the GoodNews in an Information Societybut specificallywhat are some practicalaspects the Congregation can address between now and the Jubilee Year2000at the level of the general administrationregionsprovincescommunities and individual Oblates and associates? I see five of them:

            1. A Theologyof Communications
            Just as the Congregation has brought experts together to producesuch worthwhile works as an Oblate encyclopediawe must bring togetherour best theologians and media persons (Oblates and associates) on a moredaring project – to reflect on and lay the groundwork for a soundtheological approach to the realities of life and their ecclesiologicalimplications in the cyberworld.

            2. A PastoralCommunications Plan and OBCOM
            Pope John Paul II has stated under the heading"Urgencyof a Pastoral Plan for Social Communications":

            We strongly recommend that dioceses and episcopalconferences or assemblies include a communications component in everypastoral plan. We further recommend they develop specific pastoral plansfor social communications itself¼ In doing sobishops shouldseek the collaboration of professionals in secular media and of theChurch’s own media-related organizations (Ætatis Novæ21).

            Should Oblates not be doing the same thing at the generalregional and provincial levels of the Congregation? A plan for socialcommunications in a region or in a province would go a long way to dispelfeelings of helplessness and inadequacy experienced by so many communitiesand individual Oblates facing the problems of evangelizing in today’sInformation Society. An appendix to Ætatis Novæ spellsout some of the elements that such a plan should include: 1) A statementof vision that addresses contemporary issues and conditionsand identifiesstrategies for all ministries. 2) An inventory describing the media environmentof the regionincluding audiencespublic and commercial media producersresourcesdelivery systemsetc. 3) A proposed structure for Church-relatedcommunications in support of evangelization. 4) Media education with specialemphasis on the relationship of media and values. 5) Pastoral outreachto and dialogue with media professionals. 6) A financial plan to makethis ministry viable (Ætatis Novæ24).

            OBCOM – the Congregation’s media network – could becomethe force to tie all this togetherforging connections and providingvitality and information at all levels. OBCOM was set up to connectcatalyzeand enable initiatives between Oblate communicators and their co-workersaround the world. Perhaps now is the time for it to take on a wider roleby promoting and facilitating an in-depth and competent analysis of theCongregation’s overall global communication capacities. Such a studywould have to take into account not only the possibilities that technologypresents but also the multitude of cultural realities with which the Congregationdeals. Done comprehensivelyit could go far toward creating effectiveconnections to more fully realize the Oblate charism in the new millennium.

            3. Make Friendsin the Media
            Are there negative forces at work in the communications media?Unfortunatelyyes. So many that we often feel helpless before the constantattacks on Judeo-Christian values. So many that the Pope has sounded analarm on several occasions:

            In some parts of the world voices are being raisedagainst what is seen as domination of the media by so-called Westernculture. Media products are seen as in some way representing valuesthat the West holds dear andby implicationthey supposedly presentChristian values. The truth of the matter may well be that the foremostvalue they genuinely represent is commercial profit¼

            There is an ever-growing choice of sources in themedia. The greater the choicethe harder it may be to choose responsibly.It is increasingly difficult to protect one’s eyes and ears fromimages and sounds which arrive through the media unexpectedly and uninvited...and public opinion has been shocked at how easily the advanced communicationtechnologies can be exploited by those whose intentions are evil. Atthe same timecan we not observe a relative slowness on the part ofthose who wish to do good to use the same opportunities?

              The Holy Father throws us a challenge in that last sentence.It does little good to complain of bias in reporting and programming ifwe are not prepared to do something about it. Of their naturemedia peopleare not necessarily hostile to the Church or to the Good News. Frequentlythey look for sensation and operate more out of preconceived notions ofthe faith and out of ignorance than out of malice. That makes it importantfor usas a first stepto have friends among themto bein a sensechaplains of the Media ( persons whom they trust to be straightforwardpersons upon whom they can call when questions arise. In some ways maintainingfriends in the Media can be a strong complement to religious radio andtelevision which by and large reach out mostly to the converted and elderly.15Ideallywe would do well to have contacts in all three arms of the Media:pressradio and television. The concept of such a chaplaincy has far-reachingmerits.

              4. Become Activeon the Internet
              Too often we still view the computer as a glorified typewriter.The World Wide Web of the Internetwith its myriad Web sitesquicklyshows us it is far more. Therethe computer becomes a new means of relatingto others and a Web site (or Web page) on the Internet can be the electronicareopagus where we proclaim the Good News of the risen Lord to an entiresegment of the population which hardly knows him. Every province can benefitfrom a Web site ( an attractive and appealing electronic home page thattakes interactivity to its maximum with a whole gamut of informationalchoices. Almost anyone can put a Web page togetherbut to do it wellit may be necessary initially to hire a professional. Once set uphoweveranyone can operate it and frequently keep updating and amplifying theinformation it provides. Besides telling surfers who the Oblates are andwhat we doa province’s Web site can be a privileged forum for seekingout vocations. Religious vocations are out therewe must invite themto "come and see."

              But the great attraction of a well-put-together Webpage will be the interactivity of its "chat room" where interestedor curious searchers can engage with Oblates in computerized discussionselectronically dialoguing and asking questions on any matters they chose.And the beauty of such discussions is that from the computer in his officeor rectory an Oblateanywhere in the province (or anywhere in the worldfor that matter) can at any time "enter" and join in the dialogue.This takes dialogue to another level – dialogue with mostly youngerpeople all over the worldmany of whom seldom if ever enter a churchor take part in traditional religious practices. In such chat rooms wehave the opportunity to truly introduce people who are among the mostabandoned in today’s world to the Unknown God – people who arerarely if ever touched by the Church. One of St. Eugene’s prime concernsas a young priest was the unattended youth of Aix. I believe he wouldhave loved the Internet because today it can put us in touch with abandonedand alienated young people in the entire world.

              The Oblate General Administration is to be congratulatedon opening its very attractive Web-site on the Internet (<http://www.omiobcom.org>).Hopefully this will be kept updated and even expanded with chat room interactivity.It would also be a masterful site for the Information Service to providethe Congregationand especially the various Oblate magazines and reviewswith instantaneous news as it happens. The bulletins are informativebut by the time they reach a magazine editor’s desk they are historyrather than news. The Internet could change all this.

              5. In the ThirdWorldMore Radio
              Radio is a powerful force in the Third World and Oblates are amongits involved leaders. In the Congregation we have at least two approachesto radio ministryvery different from one anotheryet both are highlyeffective in their particular spheres. One model is in the southern Philippinesthe other in the tin-mining Andean mountain region of Bolivia; both involveOblates working in the local language with competent and dedicated younglay persons native to the region. It is urgent that this way of reachingthe poor and most abandoned be ably expanded into other regionsnotablyAfrica and the former Soviet Union. In doing soboth of these modelsshould be studied to see which might best apply in a particular area withits own particular conditions. Thisagainis where OBCOM can be of assistance.

              In additionthe Oblates working with First Nations people in the isolatednorthern interior of British ColumbiaCanadaare launching into ruraltelevision with a small station and transmitter. This will be an interestingand important pilot endeavour to follow.

              2000 — a Yearof Jubilee
              We are preparing for the Year 2000 – the Year of Jubileea time"to bring the good news to the oppressedto bind up the brokenheartedto proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners¼"In 1816after the French RevolutionEugene de Mazenodin a wayrefoundedthe proclamation of the Good News to the most abandoned in his worldand by doing so broke their chains. Todayin the spirit and charism ofSt. Eugenewe are called upon to bring the Good News to the oppressedin our Information Societyto bind up the brokenheartedto proclaimliberty. It is not only part of our apostolic Oblate charismit is alsothe wish of the Holy Father for the Jubilee Year:

              Perhaps one of the finest gifts which we could offerto Jesus Christ on the two thousandth anniversary of his birth wouldbe that the Good News will at last be made known to every person inthe world – first of all through the living witness of Christianexamplebut also through the media: "Communicating Jesus Christ:the Waythe Truth and the Life". May this be the aim and commitmentof all who profess the uniqueness of Jesus Christthe source of lifeand truth (Jn 5:26; 10:1028).16

                May this also be our aim. A new moment of grace is athand. Let us embrace it with a hunger.

                Notes:
                1. European Ecumenical Commission for Church and Society documentJanuary 91997.

                2. UNDA Newsno.4-51996. Andrzej Koprowskiof Polish Television reported that while much of the privatised mediain Poland have been cornered by the old guard nomenklaturasomeoutlets have gone to opposition groups. Moreover PolandHungarytheCzech RepublicSlovakiaSlovenia and Croatia now have satellite direct-to-homeservices available.

                3. Federico Mayorin The UNESCO CourierDecember1996pp.38-39.

                4. Pope John Paul II: Ætatis NovæIno. 4.

                5. BauschWilliam J.: The Parish of the Next MillenniumTwenty-Third PublicationsMysticCTUSAp.234.

                6. Pierre BabinOMI: Evangelization and Mediapp.84-5; OMI DocumentationRomeno. 181May 1991.

                7. Pope John Paul II: Ætatis Novæno. 21.

                8. CREC/AVEX in Ecully (Lyon) and Local AVEX in variousregions; the Communications Institute at St. Paul University in Ottawathe Centre St-Pierre Apôtre and SAVO in Montreal.

                9. Cardinal Etchegaray’s message to journalistsduring the Pontifical Council for Social CommunicationsMarch 4-81996.

                10. Documents of the Thirty-Fourth Congregation ofthe Society of Jesus; Decree Fifteenno. 389Curia of the SuperiorGeneralRome1995.

                11. Nielsen Demographics Recontact Studyp.4. Internetaddress: http://www.commerce.net/nielsen/exec.html.

                12. UNESCOOctober 1996.

                13. TripodNo. 94July-August1996pp.51-52Hong Kong. On June 211996a year before the takeoverCardinal JohnBaptist Wu Chen-chung hosted a private dinner in Hong Kong. Invited werethe head of Mainland China’s Religious Affairs BureauYe Xiaowenand some sixty leaders of the Territory’s six main religious bodies:BuddhistsCatholicsConfucianistsMuslimsProtestants and Taoists.Ye Xiaowen asked only two questions of the Catholic representatives: 1)Where does the Church get financing for its seminaries and schools? 2)Are church bodies in Hong Kong linked with the Vatican through the Internet?

                14. Pope John Paul II: Communicating Jesus: the Waythe Truth and the Life; Message for the 31st World CommunicationsDayJanuary 241997.

                15. George GallupJr.and Jim Castelli: The AmericanCatholic People: Their BeliefsPractices and ValuesDoubleday &Co.Inc.New York1987.

                16. John Paul IIibid.

                 

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