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Marist Bulletin - Number 257

 

Interview with Brother Joadir Foresti from Brazil
27/07/2006

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Joadir is a young brother from the Province of Rio Grande do Sul who has studied religious sciences and journalism. He is currently working in this passionate world of communications. He is responsible for the webpage of his Province of 200 brothers. He is a member of the Communications Group that has as its mission to prepare and distribute the document on Marist Spirituality which is to be approved by the Institute. His work as a journalist is not a usual task of a Marist Brother. That is why we have approached him with a great deal of curiosity to know how a Marist Brother works in the field of communications.

Why have you chosen to work as a Marist Brother in the domain of communications?
In 1996, I started my work in communications after having done a course in religious sciences at our Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul. I then did a course in journalism, wondering what my work in the Province would be. I wanted to do something that would be in relation to the human sciences and education. I thought I would be able to help the Institute by applying pedagogy to communications and journalism. I was attracted by journalism in order to make what we do better known. I saw that there was a lot of good work being done in the Province, but that people were unaware of what was being done in our centres; only people very close to us were informed, but the others knew nothing.

What is the structure of you work?
In reality, it is quite a small structure. I form a base team with a student who has a grant from the University for communications. We look after two large Provincial sectors: communication and publicity, at the interior of which there are the web, publicity, journalism and events. In each of these sectors, there are people who help me, all laypeople and professionals in their domains. Then a consultation group formed by four brothers help me to reflect on the communication and the fundamental orientations of the Congregation.

Is all this infrastructure a part of a service of your Province?
The Province looks after needs defined by the Provincial Council. For example, there are some Provincial organisms responsible for education or formation; we are, in some way, an extra organism in the Province.

Do you work for all these organisms?
Our methodology of communication is integrated and offered to all of the work sectors together. There is not one person who works for himself for the web, or writes news in order to send them then to the means of communication, but all is co-ordinated by us. For example, we send the news of the Province through the means of communication that are in the capital and those that are in the interior and we are in liaison with other organisms, such as that of evangelisation, that of formation, etc. When they have needs, they come to us. Other times we go to them.

Where are your offices situated, where are your instruments of work?
The entire infrastructure is found at the Provincial headquarters at Porto Alegre near to Rosario College. We have a room divided in two, a section for production and the other for the webpage and publicity. There is also the reception where the works arrive and a meeting room that we use regularly to co-ordinate the different work groups. We have three meetings every week.

Are you in direct relation with the production centres of the university or the department of the university responsible for the formation of journalists?
I am in relation with them because I was trained there and because the professors are my colleagues. I have also worked at the university for two and a half years where I have given courses in the faculty of education, mainly on the theory of communication and information and on learning. At present, I am finishing my doctorate in communication and so I must go there frequently. Another type of relation is the link that we have with the researchers of the University who work with us. As I have already said, a student who has a grant works with me. Some students also come to practise with us. But the University work is enormous and what we essentially do together are activities of integration. Last year we organised a meeting on communications with the University and its co-ordinator. We participate in a seminar which ahs been held for ten years now and where we study communications. All those in positions of responsibility examine together affairs of common responsibility that affect the Institute, the Province or the University. We want to carry out concrete actions with the university and the other works of the brothers.

Digital communication is very important nowadays. You also look after the website of your Province. How are you organised in the Province from the point of view of digital communication?
We can say that we are at the third, fourth or fifth phase in relation to our collaboration with the schools. Before working for the Province, I started my work at Rosario College and we created a site for the school. The same year we created the one for the Province. But they contained only general information on the structure of the school or the structure of the Province. Then we created sites for all the schools, because we had schools with information technology where these programme were being developed and updated. But we put many images on them, with the activities of the students, etc. without looking after the communication too much. At the present moment, all the schools have their own webpage, but we need to give them some unity of format for all the Province. I would say that is the second phase.
The third phase was the creation of a unified infrastructure for all the schools such that the people who search for what is Marist on the web in the state of Rio Grande do Sul find all the Marist schools, and see that it is the same organisation.
For the fourth phase, we have established obligatory criteria for all the schools. We are at our second version of the page for schools. All have the same visual presentation, the same conception, but the schools are responsible for the contents and images. Our responsibility is to keep them updated by helping the schools to place information correctly, with images of an adequate size and good information texts. The team includes competent professionals to help in this work.

How many colleges or schools participate in this unified project?
The Province has twenty-one colleges and two colleges belong to former students who also use the same model. That makes twenty-three works in all.

The Institute has its official page, as do many other Marist works. How do you see the Institute’s site?
The Institute’s webpage has as its aim to give the news of the activities of the General Council and its ideas. But it needs to also consider that Marist work is not only done at the General House but everywhere in the Marist world. The missions and the responsibilities are very diverse: work with children, management, university teaching, formation, etc. The challenge for the webpage is to highlight all of this Marist work.

You work as a journalist and animator of communications with laypeople. No doubt, you have great satisfaction at the personal level and with your collaboration with the brothers.
It is a bit difficult to know and very difficult to speak of my great satisfactions in that which concerns my work. But, I can say that I am satisfied. When I come to Rome, everything functions very well in the Province. The brother who replaces me during this time has sent me a message to say that everything is going well.
This is a great satisfaction; a very normal thing for us. We have a lot of work but all is going well. All the people who work with me know that we continually have challenges in our work.

Champagnat made work a characteristic of his brothers
For us, it is a matter of very new work and everyone does not understand this way of doing things. The greatest challenge of our task and the most gratifying part is when, by dint of perseverance, we see that people understand and approve our work.

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