Lyon, May 9, 2012 (SIGNIS) – Pierre Babin is no longer with us. The Founder of CREC and pioneer of the “Symbolic Way” died on 9th May 2012. He goes to the Christ that he strived to bring to all. We remember him as a man of faith, open, convivial and above all a communicator. To be in his company was to experience “the good life” not only for good wine but above all for his warmth…
His funeral will be held Saturday, May 12th at 9:30 in the chapel of St. Francis of Assisi retirement homes in Lyon (18 r ue Raymond 69001 Lyon) where he had retired for several years.
A pioneer of group media, an expert in educational psychology, writer and essayist, Pierre Babin was born in 1925 at Paray-le-Monial, France. He entered the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in 1942 and was ordained a priest seven years later. He studied theology at the Catholic University of Lyon. Among his teachers there was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He specialized in the relationship between theology and psychology. From 1955, Babin became a professor at the Catholic University of Lyon and then at Paris, Strasbourg, Ottawa and Montreal.
In 1971 he founded the Centre for Research and Education in Communication (CREC, http://www.crecinternational.org) in Lyon, specializing in media training and communication, mainly serving Christian institutions. He published many articles and books that incorporated diverse influences, such as those of Joseph Columb and Marshall McLuhan. In his book L’Ere de la communication (1985) (translated as The New Era in Religious Communication, 1991) Babin showed how to combine media communication and religious calling. He opted for the supremacy of the image (in the broadest sense, incorporating symbol, intuition, music and sound) above any form of “oral” communication. For him, audiovisual language was more than just a simple educational tool used to convey the message of faith. The result was the “Symbolic Way” which, more than a learning method, referred to a state of mind, a new way of understanding realities and cultures.
From the 1980s, Pierre Babin worked with St. John’s University, Bangkok. In 2002, the University awarded him the title of Doctor Honoris Causa. 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 the legacy and vision of Babin. 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 for, named after one of his mentors.
From the 1970s, Babin had close links with OCIC and Unda and with their merger in 2001, with SIGNIS and participated in meetings and projects. Over more than 30 years, Pierre and his “Symbolic Way” taught through CREC, influenced, formed and mentored hundreds of Catholic communicators many of whom are currently very active in the SIGNIS network. His death was met with great sadness in SIGNIS where his legacy as a pioneer in Catholic communications lives on.
Here are some immediate reactions received in the Secretariat from the President Augustine Loorthusamy and from Vice president Peter Thomas:
Augustine Loorthusamy: “(Pierre) was a giant in his field and more than that was a prophet. He was directly responsible for my getting into the world of Media. For more than 30 years he has been a great influence in my life. He was a mentor and a friend.”
Peter Thomas: “There is no doubt in my mind that Babin has been the Marshal McLuhan of Catholic media. I can still feel the media ‘vibrations’ as I sit here in an edit suite watching ten large screens. He was a great pioneer in the use of audio visuals for catechetical purposes and a profound influence on my thinking in the decade of the 1980’s”.
You can publish your own condolences and testimonies on the CREC website at http://www.crecinternational.org. At the end of the obituary, there is a link to write comments.
You can also download from the CREC site a document (in French) presenting Pierre Babin’s journey: http://www.crecinternational.org/new/index.php/babinvoie
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