Twelve young Salesian Korean priests have met for a two day quinquennium session at the Salesian community and Youth Training Centre at Daejong, some 200 kms south of Seoul. The community is appropriately located between Seoul and Kwangju, two locations where most of the group are engaged in their apostolate. Two of the group were already at Daejong, where they are members of the community.
The first session for the two days (May 7) gave consideration to a Salesian evangelising and educating presence in the digital continent, especially in the social networking scene. Entitled ‘Pursuing the right presence’, the presentation by the secretary of the Social Communication Department in Rome drew on the release of the film ‘There be Dragons’ (released 6 May 2011, directed by Roland Joffé, director of The Mission and The Killing Fields), and ‘mapped’ the digital continent of social networking, suggesting that in the language of many in Salesian circles there is often a ‘There be Dragons’ warning; even GC26 spoke of ‘personal and convergent media’ in a tone that suggested peril as well as potential. He suggested an alternative and informed approach involving reflection and discernment which could determine the message, attitude and goal of self-publishing and content creation in view of both education and disseminating the Gospel.
The presentation was offered to encourage a dialogue, and the speaker had little choice but to admire a policy that has meant, over the years, that almost every young Korean Salesian has not only studied English but feels proficient enough to engage in debate in that language. Given that most present (except the speaker and the Vice Provincial, who is also the Rector of the Daejong community) were ‘digital natives’, it was an enlightening discussion!
The group will continue their reflections through Sunday before returning to their communities. As Sunday 8 May is also ‘parents day’ in Korea, they are looking forward to at least exchanging greetings with their families – with an iPhone or similar if nothing else is possible!