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Paul CHERUTHOTTUPURAM, Kolkata says,
CRISIS MANAGEMENT: Enlighten Your Parishioners - Use Your Organizing Skills
By K.M. Selvaraj
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Kolkata, Sep. 8. The recent disturbances, communal tensions, merciless raping, group looting, brutal killings in various parts of our country especially in Orissa are topics of discussion in every media. The fear, pain, suffering, mental agony, loss of lives, the struggle and the turmoil of hundreds of displaced people need everyone`s care, concern and united action.

As a Priest, Religious Brother - Sister have you given a true picture to your faithful? Have you briefed about these developments and its cause? Have you discussed with your Pious Associations, Members of Parish Council, Women Groups, Kids and Youth - the ulterior motives of Hindutva forces? Have you shared your concerns with your ecumenical body in your area or convened a meeting to condole these incidents? Your answers may be Yes or No.

You may be in a village, town, city - Wherever you are, you are a Community Leader people look up to you for Spiritual Advice, Prayers, Counseling and Guidance, they simply admire and revere you because you are a Charismatic Church Leader. Your ever smiling face, willing to listen, courteous attitude attracts people to share their common joys and sorrows. So, it is the right time to put your organizing skills to test. . . .

The various avenues available for you to coordinate, cooperate, network and lead the people :
i) The Sunday Mass offers you a wonderful opportunity to communicate the authentic information with your parishioners, sensitize and activate them. During the Prayer of the Faithful you could specially pray for the Orissa victims, also for the people who suffer due to the floods in Bihar. The man made disasters and natural calamities elsewhere could also be brought to their attention and prayed over.

ii) Newspaper clippings with the pictures of the torched Church buildings, Christian Institutions, Homes, Convents, Vehicles and the Vandalizing Mobs could be displayed in the Notice Board. Record the gory incidents in CDs / DVDs when it is shown in the News channels, replay it for your group of people.

iii) Organize Talks, Seminars, Workshops, Group Discussions on ``Towards achieving Peace, Communal and Religious Harmony``. Invite Interfaith leaders, Secular political parties to address the gathering. It may be arranged in your Schools, Parish and Community Halls, Auditoriums.

iv) Motivate Youth to write Letters to the Editors to Newspapers, SMS, E mail to various News Channels.

v) Kids play a vital role - with their beautiful handwritten script, you can mail postcards to MLA, MP, Ministers, Judges, PM, President of India, CM of Orissa etc., it is economical, hundreds of postcards could be mailed.

vi) With their mere presence Women evoke a good response from the general public, they should be encouraged to participate in all the events.

vii) You could organize a HUMAN CHAIN / Road Dharna / Mass Signature Campaign addressed to National leaders and arrange to present them through the district collector.

viii) Use black ribbons, flags to express your empathy during silent processions and fasting agitations. During School assemblies you may ask the students to observe a minute`s silence to show their respect and solidarity.

ix) Inform the public about the ongoing incidents, by writing on the Cloth Banners, Flex Boards, Placards, appeal for their support, arrange to hang at vantage points. Conduct special prayer services, bhajans, in honour of the deceased souls, wounded persons for their speedy recovery, and the normalcy to return. Emphasize our Christian virtues of Love, Peace, Brotherhood, Forgiveness and underline the importance of `We are all Children of One God`.

x) It is important to highlight in the above programmes that we are all Citizens of this great country, we are guaranteed by the Indian Constitution the Fundamental Rights. It is our duty to protect, respect, the secular nation`s sovereignty and integrity.

Wherever it is necessary please seek the permission of Police, request for protection, strictly adhere to the guidance given by the authorities.

Organize Press Meets before and after the events, create a Scrap Book for published reports for future reference, relegate various works to your colleagues.

Contact email: kmselvaraj@dataone.in
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