The many lessons learned when hosting the Pope

By Deb Christian

Fr. Manuel Dorantes sharing lessons learned from the Pope's U.S. visit.

Photo by George Conklin.

CHICAGO (April 1, 2017) — Fr. Manuel Dorantes (Fr. Manny) has been a student of philosophy, a seminarian, a journalist-in-training, a graduate student (MBA), and is now a Catholic priest serving the Archdiocese of Chicago. He speaks at least three languages fluently. In 2015 he was tapped to be liaison and translator to the Spanish-speaking media when Pope Francis visited the U.S.

Amid a communication and media storm, Fr. Dorantes accomplished his tasks and learned some lessons about how to be an effective faith communicator. He shared those with RCC members during a workshop at the 2017 RCC convention. Is there a formula to follow for efficient, effective communications? Faith + Action = Results.

The workshop was titled: Communication Lessons Learned from Hosting the Pope in the U.S. The seven lessons he cites are both media strategy and how to live. He also noted that he sees all these in Pope Francis and gave examples and anecdotes from his visit to explain each item.

Lessons: (to be an effective faith communicator)

  • Have a prayer life (allows you to know self, lead self, lead others)

  • Seek a balanced perspective

  • Have true self-confidence

  • Genuine humility

  • Clear mission (be a witness, not just a transmitter of facts)

  • Ability to pivot (flexibility is needed and an asset)

  • Take risks (perception trumps reality; to communicate mercy to intended audience means others may misunderstand)

Fr. Dorantes noted the interesting set of circumstances that led to him, an immigrant from Mexico who learned English in the United States, becoming a translator and spokesperson for a Latin Pope, (a native Spanish speaker), who spoke most often in Italian to Spanish- and English-speaking audiences. Translation requires care for political and cultural implications going from one language to another.

One comment he made about the experience and his observations of the Holy Father that is yet one more lesson: “Do right, don’t just be right.”

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