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Shepherds with 'Smell of the Sheep'

By Joseph Dennis
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Guwahati, Oct. 14.   A group of religious has made a short film to mark the golden jubilee of the Conference of Religious India (CRI), the national association of Catholic religious in the country.

The celebrations are scheduled to be held at two venues at Don Bosco Guwahati (Kharguli and Pan Banzar) with three-day program starting November 7. It will coincide with national meeting of the CRI where some 450 religious heads will participate.
The 'curtain raiser' film which lasts just 5 minutes contains rare footages from remote areas of the country hitherto unseen on screen depicting ''shepherds with the smell of the sheep,'' to use a metaphor of Pope Francis, showing activities of religious men and women who do not shy away from people.

''It is our homage to thousands of ''Unsung Heroes'' among 125,000 strong association of religious men and women of India,'' says coordinator of the project Fr. C. M. Paul, head of the Mass Communication Department at Assam Don Bosco University Guwahati.

Some, 40,000 religious are directly involved in the social sector with a strong option for the poor, while some 76, 000 continue their ministry in structured sector.

The director and producer of the film Jiji Kalavanl of Don Bosco Image Kochi says, ''I hope the Catholic religious of India will realize their strength as social and spiritual transformers... and feel proud of what they do.''

He adds, ''I hope this video, at least in a small way, helps them become aware that they are a fraternity than isolated groups.''

National Catholic activist John Dayal writing in the FaceBook asks the rhetorical question, ''Where will the Church in India be without its men and women religious,'' and himself gives the answer, ''We all hail them, I am sure.''

He quickly adds another comment saying, ''They are not unsung... they are the life of the Church in India'' to which Fr C.M. Paul comments, ''Some of them are sung as heroes yes... but the vast majority 98 percent NO! They just live the humdrum routine of their ministry with great dedication and no fan fare....''

Lowe Glenford from Mumbai adds a comment in the social network, ''Well done... a real tribute to these unsung heroes...''

Commenting on the inspirational quality of the film the CRI National president and host of the celebrations Salesian Fr VM Thomas says, ''It [film) looks and sounds good. We can play it over and over again at the venues, till they [audience] are soaked into it... the smell of the sheep!''

Speaking on the concept of the film Fr C.M. Paul says, ''We tried to keep the mystical and religious dimension of the life of these men and women in the film by depicting the ordinariness of the service the band of dedicated men and women perform day in and day out in its multifarious mundane forms with much love and service.''

He adds, ''it is precisely this aspect of daily grind in spirituality that makes the biggest network of social workers in India stand apart more than any NGO, and social workers.''

To view the film please click the link:
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