SPEAKING FROM THE HEART, “According to the truth, in charity”.
This is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 57th World Day of Social Communications on 21 May 2023. (cf. Ephesians 4:15).
It was a special week for the nursery and primary pupils at Maryland Catholic School in Oyo State, Nigeria. 29 Year 6 students specially represented the school at a two-day children’s seminar.
The first day was dedicated to raising awareness of the Catholic Church’s call to celebrate Communication Day, clearly explained through Pope Francis’ message. Guided by Sister Elizabeth Adeyemi and myself, Sister Patience Effiong, Daughters of the Holy Spirit, the children happily displayed posters with texts describing the celebration.
On the second day, the children took part in group work which I led, introducing the pupils to the origin of World Communications Day, founded by Pope Paul VI in 1967, with the aim of “encouraging Christians, Catholics in particular, to reflect on the opportunities and challenges that modern means of social communication offer the Church for communicating the Gospel message”. The children were very enthusiastic as they listened to the message from the Holy Father, Pope Francis, which essentially encourages a spirit of listening, waiting and patience when communicating. Their attention was also drawn to this mode of communication both in the classroom and at home. The children really appreciated the prayer specially composed and used daily throughout the communication week:
“Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Help us to recognise the latent evil in communication
that does not build communion.
Help us to remove the venom of our judgements.
Help us to speak of others as brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy,
may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:
Where there is shouting, let us listen.
Where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony.
Where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity.
Where there is exclusion, let’s offer solidarity.
Where there is sensationalism, let’s be sober.
Where there is superficiality, let’s ask real questions.
Where there is prejudice, let’s build trust.
Where there is hostility, let’s show respect.
Where there is falsehood, let us bring truth. Amen.”
After reciting this prayer together, they also used it as part of their group discussion: they were able to identify certain words in the prayer as virtues necessary for effective and useful communication; they also identified words as vices which could jeopardise effective communication and which they should avoid. After these discussions, the representatives of each group shared their reflections with the group as a whole.
It was an interesting and very enriching exercise that the children appreciated as a way of shaping their communication wherever they were.
Sister Patience EFFIONG, DHS. Published on 4 June 2023