Sean-Patrick Lovett has written a book with Mother Teresa and served four popes during 35 years with Vatican Radio, but the people who have made the greatest impression on him are not household names.
“They’re the people I met in Africa who spent their days burying babies who died of HIV/AIDS in unmarked, hand-dug graves,” he said quietly upon receiving the Daniel J. Kane Religious Communications Award from the University of Dayton Jan. 31. “They’re the mothers and fathers who get up every morning of their lives to wash and dress and feed their mentally or physically disabled children. They’re the people who communicate consolation and comfort by just sitting in silence and holding your hand when you need it.
“The world doesn’t know them. I do.”
Lovett, director of Vatican Radio English Section and professor of communication at Pontifical Gregorian University, received the international award for outstanding lifetime dedication to Gospel values using mass media. His remarks came during the University of Dayton’s annual Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation conference sponsored by the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives.
Lovett began working at Vatican Radio under Pope Paul VI in 1977 and later served as a correspondent in the 1980s in Lebanon, South Africa and Northern Ireland. He accompanied Pope John Paul II on numerous international pilgrimages.
What lessons can Lovett impart after decades as a church communicator?
“One, do not take yourself seriously. No one else will. Two, stop asking yourself why you do it and do it — with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength. Three, believe in technology, but don’t sell your soul to it. It will change.
“No amount of technology,” he said, “will ever be worth one ounce of that divine spark of human creativity.”