My online dating experience

More than three hundred nuns from various congregations around the world took part in the Pentecost Project online courses initiated by the dicastery in charge of women’s consecrated life in conjunction with the UISG – International Union of Superiors General. This large number of participants represented the many languages spoken in the world, and like the crowds at Pentecost, we understood the messages transmitted thanks to the simultaneous translation provided by our valiant translators: it was a real experience of meeting online, through multiple languages where everyone heard their own!

The courses focused on communication in the digital age. Why and how should we communicate? How to be a “good shepherd” online? The Church has been hard at work since the advent of the media (radio, television and now Artificial. Intelligence). trainers from around the world and from the dicastery shared their technological and communication know-how in the digital field. As soon as the sessions were introduced, the Prefect of the dicastery reminded us that our communication should be a communion following the example of the Holy Trinity, in which each member is unique and brings his or her own difference to the other members.
The various speakers constantly emphasised the fact that online communication must not prevent us from having face-to-face relationships, marked by charity and real presence with our neighbours. For example, the need to talk to someone on the phone or to look at a flower should not prevent us, whenever possible, from going out to see that person or to the garden to admire that flower…
Online communication should strengthen rather than reduce our sense of community. The Good Samaritan is the one who goes out into the field to meet others with all their richness and poverty – he does not delegate. Pope Francis speaks of “Samaritanisation” to evoke the urgency of going out in search of the lost sheep, even on social networks. However, whenever possible, it’s better to encourage face-to-face encounters: listening, seeing each other’s reactions, touching and feeling each other…
The new media open up new horizons for evangelising, reaching out to those on the periphery, seeking out the lost sheep, but we need to be better informed about the dangers of their use, and have a better grasp of their parameters and contours. For example, we were advised to analyse the scope of a message or video we received before forwarding it to our correspondents, to take care to measure the risks involved, and to ensure respect for minors – not to publish photos of children without their parents’ permission, or poor people without their permission, etc.

At the end of our courses, a practical training session in journalistic writing gave us the opportunity to practise writing an article on a topical subject in our own environment. These various courses raised questions in us that our trainers will pass on to the dicastery for the organisation of other online sessions: our presence in the media, intergenerational communication in our living and working communities, the transmission of the charism online, the protection of data online, the experience of leadership in the digital age, ethics in the use of the media, etc.

I’d like to express my gratitude to my vice-provincial and my superior general for giving me the opportunity to take part in these online courses alongside other dedicated people: I was really edified by the sharing of experiences! The courses, which lasted six months, were a real learning experience, as I had to adapt to the time difference and the lack of technical resources – the computer and the difficulty of connecting to it, the often rapid translation, etc. However, thanks to my mobile phone, I have been able to reach so many people around the world and to open myself up to the new challenges of communication close to me and in a world where we are so hyper-connected but so alone. 

Sister NOUFE Lydie, FSE from Burkina Faso. Published on 19 December 2023

La 2ème photo:
Embrace the call to reflection that “Towards Full Presence” has offered:
– Be an online missionary!
– Be a true digital neighbour!
– Be Fully Present online!