Last week in Toronto's downtown Shearton Hotel at least 500 Catholic communicators in both the press and electronic media gathered to be reunited and rejuvenated.
The three day conference began with Archbishop Celli, the Vatican head of communications, reading a message to the group from Pope Benedict XVI.
Cardinal John Foley was in attendance all three days. For more than 25 years, Cardinal Foley was the Vatican's head of the communications commission. The group honored Cardinal Foley with various awards and a friendly "roasting" at the first evening's banquet.
I was charged with assigning people as readers for the Masses each evening, and for those who would participate somehow in the liturgies. I was very impressed at how willing people were to take part as readers, or to take up the gifts at the Offertory procession. One of the ladies whom I asked to take part in the first Mass' Offertory procession had never had that opportunity before.
People from different language groups participated too. We had petions at the Prayer of the Faithful in three languages: English, French and Spanish.
It was good to meet these leaders in Catholic communications in person. Many of them "wear several hats"--they juggle myriad responsibilities at one time with lots of grace and poise.
Our first speaker was Margaret Somerville, a petite, witty and articulate Australian born professor at McGill University in Montreal. She focused on the importance of being a "word warrior." It is extremely important for us in the media to choose words which are positive, honest and to the point. She also demonstrated how with much tact and effort, we can reach common ground with many persons or groups.
On the second day our main speaker was Father Frederico Lombardi, SJ. If you watched Pope Benedict's visit to the USA, you may have seen Father Lombardi. He is the spokesperson, or as we say in the USA, the Press Officer who takes the comments of the media and strives to answer them well.
The texts of most of these talks are available on line at www.zenit.org.
One of our friends from Toronto did an audio interview with Father Lombardi. To listen to Frank Ruffolo interviewing Father, please click onto to: www.italiani.ca.
I hope to give you a more exact link later.