In memoriam Fr Pierre Babin OMI
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In memoriam Fr Pierre Babin OMI

{wacc location=”Toronto, Canada”}{teaser}WACC notes with great sadness the death of Fr Pierre Babin, a pioneer in electronic and digital media.{/teaser}

Pierre Babin (1925-2012), who died in Lyons, France, 9 May, was a priest of the order of Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He dedicated his life to studying what he described as the new media culture and religious communication, whose convictions “express the hesitant approach of a man who is trying to understand these times, holding in his hands before him the little book of the gospels” – as he wrote in The New Era in Religious Communication (1991).

Babin did groundbreaking work on the use of audiovisual technology for catechetics, especially in his work at the ecumenical communication centre he founded in Lyons (CREC-AVEX). He also taught communications at universities and seminaries around the world. He had a great impact on catechetical communications in countries in Africa and in Asia, and a communication centre named after him continues his work today in Thailand, and CREC teachers lead communication workshops in seminaries throughout Africa.

Fr Paul Soukup, Professor of Communication at Santa Clara University, USA, said, “Pierre Babin provided both practical and intellectual leadership for Christian communication around the world. Grounding his work in media and group communication in sociology, philosophy, and theology, he combined the insights of Marshall McLuhan with a Catholic educational and sacramental approach. In his views, communication media served not simply as tools for Christianity but as environments and as revelations of God’s beauty. As a man of faith, he regarded communication as a means to faith; as a teacher and scholar, he embraced the obligation to understand communication.”

Babin collaborated with Marshall McLuhan on a prophetic book titled Autre homme, autre chrétien à l’âge électronique. Babin’s discussions with McLuhan also form the backbone of The Medium and the Light, a book on McLuhan’s religious views co‐authored by his son, Eric McLuhan.

From the 1980s, Pierre Babin worked with St John’s University, Bangkok. In 2002, the University awarded him an honorary doctorate. After retiring from CREC-AVEX in February 2008, Babin became professor and honorary research fellow at the Faculty of Communication Arts at St John’s University. In September 2008, the University opened the Babin Centre for Communications, which has the task of providing a programme of training and research based on his legacy and vision. His method and his research has increasingly been the subject of study within the International Group for Faith and Technology (GIFT). In August 2011, Babin received the McLuhan Prize.

In the early 1990s WACC sponsored the translation into English of Babin’s L’ère de la communication, which appeared as The New Era in Religious Communication (Fortress Press, 1991). WACC also supported Babin’s seminal work at CREC-AVEX, a research and training centre in Lyons, France, recognizing his position on the cutting edge of the relationship between media and religion.

Sheila George, President of WACC North America, commented, “I was one of the lucky ones who studied communications with this great communication master and spiritual father. It was at CREC-AVEC as a student that I first learned about WACC, which led ultimately to my current involvement today. He was a mentor that changed my vision of communications forever.”

Further biographical information can be found here.

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