RMG - Don Bosco communicated through a NETWORK

24 May 2023

(ANS - Rome) - On the 24th of the month, it has become customary to offer ANS readers one of the articles conceived and written by Fr. Gildasio Mendes, General Councilor for Social Communication, on the theme "Don Bosco and digital and virtual reality." After delving into various aspects of communication, in all its forms, this month Fr. Mendes tackles a new and interesting topic: Don Bosco communicated through a NETWORK.

Digital communication is essentially interactive and takes place on the Web.

I communicate because there is another, a group, a digital community in a network. This way of communicating is horizontal, without the hierarchical categories of the traditional communication style. Table tennis (some call it ping pong) is an image of this horizontal communication style. I need someone to play with me. We are on the same level of interactive relationship in the game.

Imagine a teenager who communicates digitally with parents and teachers. This teenager has all the means and digital devices to communicate, the language and symbols to express his or her feelings and vision of things. In interactivity, communication facilitates spontaneity, even improvisation. Imagine a son sending music videos to his father and asking him to send him videos of songs he likes. We imagine the interaction in sending photos of relatives and their comments, photos of nature and their comments

However, this does not mean that there is no hierarchy in digital communication. Yes, there is, and young people know what it means, especially when it comes to information they formally receive from school, such as safety instructions.

Interactive communication opens up a great opportunity for creative expression, such as creating personal videos and sharing them with friends online.

Interactivity facilitates communication within the network. The Internet and social networks are a great network. Everything, in a sense, is connected (the video I post on YouTube, the text I share on a social network, the comment I make on a blog), allowing everything to be done instantly and convergently.

Networking is part of human nature. Individuals are always looking for others, needing the group; to carry out a project and make it known they need a network of relationships. Consider, for example, an author who writes a book and wants to publish it. To do  this, there is a need for other people to collaborate in designing the cover, editing and printing the book, in the distribution, advertising, sale, etc. To communicate is to dwell in the universe of the network of human and cultural relationships.

Don Bosco, as an educator and communicator, created an immense communications network. A human network of relationship, trust, dissemination of the good things he did for the poorest young people.

From an idea, Don Bosco began to write a letter; from a letter, a  book was born. From a book, he thought of an entire series. From a series a publishing house was born; from a publishing house, he thought of the Salesian Bulletin. From a Bulletin, a network of contacts with many people was born.

His brilliant mind was quick and intense. He wrote, thinking of creating a network of readers. He educated, involving various people; he started with a small group and then founded the Salesian Congregation. He was a communicator who seemed to want to follow, with all his passion, the evangelical dynamics of the seed that falls on good soil.

Don Bosco learned a song but wanted a choir. From the choir, he wanted an orchestra; from the orchestra, he wanted to climb the mountains to play, sing, animate young people. The oratory, with theatre, music, liturgy and games, was a continuous network of action and involvement.

Don Bosco was a writer! Don Bosco was a journalist! Don Bosco was a great communicator of the Church!

Don Bosco himself was a great author. He wrote a variety of texts:  on hagiography, sacred history and the Church, education, religion, formation in general. There are 1,174 of his printed works. He was also a journalist. In 1877 he founded the Salesian Bulletin and collaborated with it until his death. 

In the 37 volumes of the collection of Opere Editepublished by LAS between 1977 and 1987 there are 219 titles, including biographies, history texts, prayer manuals, legal texts and regulations, hagiographies, catechisms, edifying stories. Most of these writings are still unknown to the spiritual family that originated from him. The list of published writings has developed continuously over the years that followed.

Don Bosco was a writer and publisher with a great vision of the network already in his time.

A network formed by a movement of people, Salesians, lay people, friends, to make and give visibility to what is good.

With a great ability to write, with great apostolic passion and a strategy to reach people, he established a network of very creative and interesting people.

He created a network to communicate, always starting from an inner reason, a dream, a passion, a purpose. His communication system was a real kaleidoscope. A real mosaic with different colours and designs. Everything was done to involve his young people, foster their role as active people, grow… all for the glory of God and his continuous purpose to do things because Mary Help of Christians wanted it that way.

To be a good communicator it is very important to create a personal and effective relationship with others, the ability to establish a bond. In addition, the good communicator must have a presence that conquers, convinces, remains loyal and consistent to their audience, and has something credible to communicate. Therefore, technical skill is not enough. Creativity, passion, human relationship, ability to create a communication network in which the main content is testimony, real life, experience.

So Don Bosco, in his own way, was a networking communicator. Don Bosco created a network of people to communicate what is good! This is the fundamental criterion for all of us who inhabit the digital sphere: to promote the good that is done. Promote the good things that come from the hearts and actions of many people.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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