A radio that has nourished people’ s hearts for 90 years

On 12 February, Vatican Radio celebrates its 90th anniversary. This work, set up by Guglielmo Marconi at the request of Pope Pius XI, had been entrusted to the Jesuits. Since 2015, with the creation of the Dicastery for Communications, Vatican Radio has been integrated into all of the Vatican's communication media.

Despite what might have been thought, the radio continues to play an important role all over the world. It is synonymous with proximity and reaches large audiences who do not always have access to other media. In this context, Vatican Radio pursues its fundamental objective of a public service that seeks to nourish hope and to make available the voice of the Pope while offering an interpretation of current events in the light of the Gospel. It has done so again, and despite the obstacles, throughout this long worldwide ordeal of the Covid-19 pandemic.

RV offers programmes in 41 languages and broadcasts on various platforms, including the internet. In Rome, some 20 Jesuits collaborate daily in the radio production of RV. We have asked three of them to tell us in a few words the meaning of their commitment to this service of the Church.

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Jozef Bartkovjak SJ - Chief of the Slovakian desk

My favourite adrenaline sport

For eight years I have been leading the Slovakian section of Vatican Radio, one of the small ones. We are a team of three. Besides being a source of news from the Vatican seven days a week, we offer people extensive translations of the Holy Father's recent words. We use several channels: Vatican News portal, Vatican Radio, Facebook, newsletter by email.

Vatican Radio is a family of nations, a “redeemed Babel.” It also shows clearly how in the Church we help each other with complementary roles: lay people, priests, nuns. We Jesuits, through our vows, can be free to sacrifice almost anything for the mission, and this thanks to the support in the community. A generational chain is also evident: I can say that I find inspiration to look for the “magis” in those great predecessors who worked in the Slovakian programme over the years and we, in turn, prepare and motivate young Jesuits for this mission.

The apostolate in the field of media is for me an “adrenaline sport.” There are all kinds of challenges in this mission. The first is to stay with God, otherwise all the effort is useless. Then the challenge of being able to listen and discern where the truth is, to understand the meaning in the midst of all the turmoil and deception going on in the world. Also the challenge of being a faithful interpreter of what the Pope says and does. Then the challenge of choosing the appropriate medium, both vocal and multimedia. that speak to the hearts of my Slovakian people. And not least the challenge of finding global balance, through sport and reading, so as not to lose my breath and be able to say “Laudato si’.”

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Sanjay Dilip Ekka SJ - Hindi desk

Reaching out even to Hindu and Muslims

Just as I finished my tertianship in 2015, I was missioned to Vatican Radio in Rome. It was unexpected and sudden. However, I feel delighted and grateful to God who invited me to embrace this mission.

In the beginning, meeting the everyday deadlines for the transmission was quite demanding. It was like a marathon. I had to be on my toes and “to burn the night oil” to be ready on time. I have been translating the speeches, homilies and catechetic teachings of the Pope along with Church documents, including Fratelli tutti, into Hindi. Our Hindi programmes are followed by many Hindu and Muslims in Asia.

I have been personally moved and touched by the translation work of the Pope’s messages: they are always accessible. So we constantly get feedback from our listeners. Many have expressed that our programme touches them in the heart; this confirms me in my mission. We can reach people with the Pope’s messages; we have to do even more in this line.

Communicating the message of the Holy Father, through Vatican Radio, to the Hindi listeners of the Universal Church has given me real joy and fulfillment: this mission has indeed brought about unique transformation in me.

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Nguyễn Văn Yên SJ - Vietnamese desk

Building a bridge with young Vietnamese

Vatican Radio celebrates her 90th anniversary. Simultaneously, the Vietnamese language programme celebrates its 40th year of presence within this broadcasting institution of the Church.

The Jesuits established the Vietnamese programme in 1980 and managed this initiative for 5 years. Then we were unexpectedly absent from Vatican Radio for 23 years. In 2008, for the first time, two Vietnamese Jesuit were sent to do their regency at the Vietnamese programme. At that time a Dominican priest was heading the section. Personally, I also did my regency In Vatican Radio in 2010... and I was brought back here in July 2019, when the Dominican retired so that I could replace him.

I envision my mission in the Vietnamese section as building a bridge between Radio Vatican - and more broadly Vatican News - and the Church in Vietnam. The Church in Vietnam is young in both her history and membership, with a large number of young adults. Therefore, we focus on the young adult audience with contents that are appropriate for them and in channeling what we do through social media.

I am thankful and appreciative for the support of my fellow Vietnamese Jesuits in Rome. With their companionship, I am not alone in my mission, my service to the Church.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles public relations.

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