CRI News and Events

CRI News and Events

Being a Religious Superior Today: The Essentials

Feb 16

The National CRI offers five one-week seminars on this theme this year—one each in Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mangalore and two in Delhi.
Much planning and careful preparation go into a seminar—choice of relevant topics, selection of competent resource persons, a clean and welcoming venue with the facilities required.
We are also keen that the atmosphere in the seminar be joyful and loving, for people learn best in settings which are warm and open. Another aspect we take care of is to have meaningful prayer services so that community prayer becomes a deep and joyful meeting with the Lord, not just dull routine. Apart from the sessions, each day has also a movie related to the theme of the day. Movies, when used well, are a great source of learning.
Each seminar is followed by an anonymous written evaluation, to help us get the real feelings of every participant about all aspects of the seminar, what each one found useful or less so.
Here are quotes from a few participants. The first quote is from a young superior of a large community of thirty-one sisters and several activities. She writes:
“It was a great learning experience…
“The main topics dealt by Fr Joe Mannath SDB, the CRI National Secretary, were: key functions of a leader, self-care, levels of animation, psycho-sexual integration and celibacy, healthy friendships, counselling and spiritual direction, and tips for superiors. A leader needs to treat everyone as a human being and to see problems as opportunities.
“The important aspects of finance, maintenance of accounts and tax laws were explained by Sr Regis SMI, a former provincial and a lawyer very knowledgeable about administrative matters.
“Fr Anton Paul SDB, professor of Canon Law and director of Viswa Deep Institute, Bangalore, explained clearly a number of points under “Canon Law for Superiors.”
“Sr Shanthi Priya De Mello BS, of the General team of Bethany Sisters, effectively explained the role of a superior, especially in women’s communities. She stressed that the superior’s primary task is to animate communities and to accompany the members with love and care. Superiors should lead by example.
“Feelings and emotions are normal in life, and one should know how to handle them. This practical topic was ably covered by Fr Dionysius Vas SJ, rector of St Aloysius College, Mangalore. He illustrated how accumulated anger leads to sadness; and prolonged sadness leads to depression. His various tips for handling emotions were very helpful.
“Personally, I was very much satisfied with this seminar, which was inspiring and enriching for me. The input sessions from various resource persons, the meaningful liturgy and prayers, the value-based movies after supper—all these activities made us reflect and recognize our inner potentiality to grow. I sincerely thank Fr Joe Mannath SDB and the CRI team for organising this seminar.” (Sr Lydia BS, Maryvale Convent, Kinnigoli, Mangalore)
“Learnt a lot from this program. Basically the role I have to play as an animator, not to mention topics like canon law, administrative matters and the like. Also had a lovely time there getting to know sisters from other congregations and their spiritualities.” (Sr Anifa Gomes SCCG)
“It has really been a vivifying experience where I have gained a lot from the sessions as well as the interactions. I am trying to implement what I have learnt…beginning with a caring and compassionate attitude towards my sisters and collaborators. Your prayer services have made a great impact and still linger in my mind and heart. Thank you once again!” (Sr Loretta Rozario SCCG)
A suggestion given my several participants was to make the seminar longer, and to make it available to many more religious.

An item in the evaluation form, “The one thing I remember most vividly about my experience here,” yielded these responses:
“The prayerful and good atmosphere.”
“Different congregations coming together.”
“The organization.”
“The persons and the life-style.”
“Love for one another.”
“Conducive atmosphere and cordiality.”
“Family spirit. Feeling at home.”


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CRI News and Events

SEMINARS: ONE WEEK MAKES A WONDERFUL DIFFERENCE!

Dec 12

Apart from the “normal” work going on in our National Office (e.g., MAGNET), the National CRI has been running seminars in different parts of India—five seven-day seminars for local superiors, three seven-day seminars and three shorter ones for formators and 23 one-day seminars on self-care.

Every seminar is evaluated in writing, anonymously, so that we get to know exactly what participants think of these programmes. The one-week seminars are assessed under all aspects: group prayer, atmosphere and relationships, sessions, handouts, movies, duration, time-table, food, accommodation.

After evaluating all these aspects and the inputs of each of the resource persons, each one gives his/her overall assessment of the whole programmes. The rating can be 5 (Excellent: One of the best programmes I have attended), a 4 (Good: Came up to my expectations), a 3 (Fair: Mostly satisfied), a 2 (So-so: Partly satisfied), or a 1 (Not really satisfied).

I am glad to report that ALL OUR PROGRAMMES ARE RATED EITHER 5 OR 4. Participants found the programme one of the best they have ever attended, or as a programme that came up to their expectations.

Apart from the contents, people say they are gripped by the atmosphere created in the group, the loving attention given to each one and the open sharing in the group. They are glad to get to know members of other congregations and their traditions and charisms.

One-week seminars completed so far:

Mid-Life (Bangalore, September 9-15), Local Superiors (Hyderabad, October 1-7; New Delhi, November 1-7); Formators (Hyderabad, Nov. 8-9; New Delhi, October 20-26; Pune, November 11-17).

Coming up: Local Superiors (Proggaloy, Kolkata, December 2-8; Rishyvana, Mangalore, December 29-January 4; New Delhi, March 10-16). Applications still open for these seminars.

Please note that these are National Seminars, open to religious from any part of India. The venue does not mean that it is meant only for religious of that region.

Here are photos of the recent seminars. As you can see, the participation has been good.

We look forward to seeing more of you at one or more of these training programmes. We are offering only short seminars (usually lasting seven days) because people holding responsible posts (superiors and formators) cannot absent themselves for long, and because there are centres offering longer courses for those interested.

The anonymous written evaluation shows that these one-week programmes do make a difference. We have not read even one negative feedback, or anyone who gave a programme a less than enthusiastic rating.

For all National Programmes, please register with our National Office.


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CRI News and Events

Mid-Life Seminar

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One of the forty-nine programmes planned by National CRI for the period January 2018 to May 2019 was a seminar on mid-life. Aimed at the 35-55 year age group, it strove to provide participants with current practical input on the physical, mental, emotional, medical and spiritual aspects of mid-life. This year’s mid-life seminar was held at Vidyadeep College, Bangalore, from September 9th to 15th. Thirty-eight women religious from five religious congregations took part. The resource persons were: Fr Jose Parappully SDB (who covered the psychological, psycho-sexual and spiritual aspects of the mid-life transition), Fr Joe Mannath SDB (who dealt with self-care in five areas, friendships, celibacy, negative emotions and learning from every decade), Dr Annamma Thomas from St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore (who spoke about the medical and emotional issues of mid-life, especially those connected to menopause). There were also two enthusiastic personal sharings on growth by a religious sister and brother—Sr Inacinha Fernandes SAC and Brother Jesudas Amirthan SSP. Another honest personal witness was done by a couple— George Timothy and his wife Shibani. The anonymous written evaluation covered all the aspects of the seminar— accommodation, food, time-table, common prayer, sessions, movies. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The participants gave glowing tributes to the resource persons—for the relevant and practical contents, the touching personal accounts of the journey through life which moved several participants to tears and the good atmosphere in the group. One suggestion made by several was that the seminar should have been longer. The CRI Brochure containing details about the National programmes of 201819 were sent months ago to all the major superiors—in both soft copy and print. We appeal to you to make these programmes known to your members. We hear that a good number of religious have not even heard of these opportunities!


 

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CRI MEGA EVENT: ASSEMBLY 2018

JULY 09

The largest national gathering of major superiors in the world is the triennial Assembly of Major Superiors, organized by the Conference of Religious, India. The 2018 Assembly took place in May.

Venue: SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Kattankulathur, Tamilnadu. Dates: May 27-30, 2018.

STRIKING STATISTICS: Major superiors registered: 578 (468 Sisters, 24 Brothers and 86 Priests). Plus: 12 regional secretaries and four others. The superiors included 64 generals, 19 delegates for their congregations, 365 provincials, 28 regional superiors and 102 delegates of provincials, from all over India. Age distribution: from the 30’s and to the 70’s.

Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, our Nuncio, presided over the Inaugural Eucharist and gave the inaugural address. He was with us all the four days, finding time to meet all those who had asked for that.

The main celebrants at the other three Masses were: Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas (CBCI Secretary General), Bishop Neethinathan of Chengalpat and Archbishop George Antony Samy of Madras-Mylapore. The written evaluation shows that the group really appreciated their homilies.

Topics and Speakers:

The twin theme of the Conference was, in line with Pope Francis’s guidelines and challenge to religious: “Understanding our Setting” and “Reaching Out to the Peripheries.”

In his opening address, Fr V. M. Thomas Vattathara SDB, the out-going CRI National President, spoke of “The Challenges Facing the Religious Today.”

Next, Fr Selvaraj Arulnathan SJ (Director, Indian Social Institute, Bangalore), looked at “The Current Social Situation and the Role of Minorities.” His talk was supplemented by a short intervention by Bishop Sarat Nayak (Chairman, CBCI SC-BC Commission) and an appeal by the Dalit Viduthalai Payanam.

Fr Jegat Gaspar Raj made a passionate appeal on matters of ecology.

Fr Paul Moonjely, the new director of Caritas-India, presented ways in which Caritas and CRI can collaborate.

“The Use and Abuse of Social Media” was the topic addressed by Mr Leslie of Madras Christian College.

Padma Shree Sunitha Krishnan, founder-director of Prajwala, gave a stirring address, “From Pain to Power: Rescue and Rehabilitation of Victims of Human Trafficking.”

Medical information on organ donation was provided by Dr J. Amalorpavanathan.

Fr Paul Parathazham, Director, St. John’s Academy of Medical Sciences, Bangalore, gave a clear presentation about St. John’s, with special emphasis on opportunities available to women religious.

The CBCI Secretary for prison ministry, Fr Sebastian Vadakumpadan, spoke of the wonderful service done by religious in this ministry and how we can do more.

The CBCI document on avoid sexual harassment at work was presented by Supreme Court Advocate Jose Abraham, who had helped the CBCI Women’s Desk to prepare the document.

A very inspiring talk on the vision and practices of Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, was given by Dr M. C. Mathew, who had been President of the CMC Council.

Fr Xavier Arul Raj, a senior advocate, presented a comprehensive legal framework for religious mission, and answered questions.

The plight of inter-state migrant workers was highlighted by social activist Ms. Geetha Ramakrishnan.

Further:

The Assembly also took time for the reports of the regional CRI units, with statistics on the number of members and institutions in the various regions and a quick look at the main activities of the past three years. We also filled up a form on Follow-Up after the Assembly.

In the Sectional Meetings—separate meetings of Sisters, Brothers and Fathers—the new sectional executives were elected. The new National President is Brother T. Amalan FSC. The two vice-presidents are Sr Rose Celine Fernandes BS and Fr. George Panthanmackel MSFS.

Two dance programmes bought beauty and relaxation to our proceedings.

The material which each participant received included, among other things, a visiting card pendrive, which also served as a photo ID, with hundreds of useful documents loaded on it. This selection was collected and checked by Fr Cleophas Braganza SDB.

There was warm and very evident appreciation for the wonderful hospitality extended to us by the SRM University authorities. They really went out of their way to offer us excellent accommodation, their huge and beautiful auditorium for our sessions and well-prepared meals, always on time and graciously served. SRM also provided buses for pick up at the airport and railway stations, as well as transport on the campus.

We are also grateful to Fr Don Bosco Lourdusamy SDB, who contacted SRM on our behalf, and really did more than we asked for every step of the way. While we honoured the SRM founder-chancellor, Mr Parivendar, the vice-chancellor, Dr Sandeep Sancheti, and the registrar, Dr. Sethu Raman, on the dais, we also thanked and honoured others who looked after us at SRM. As a mark of their affection, the founder-chancellor gifted all the participants with a specially designed mug (which includes a photo of Pope Francis).

The organization and success of the Assembly owes much to many persons. We have thanked them on the stage and in person in Chennai. I will do that again in detail in my next letter to the Major Superiors.  Thank you, participants, for your presence. Thank you, team-mates at the National, Regional and Local CRI units, for your wonderful support. Thank you, SRM family! Thank you, lay volunteers! Thank you, wise and committed resource persons, who really threw light on our path and enthused us with your passion creating a better world.

 

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Seminars in Varanasi

April 18

Fr Joe Mannath SDB, National CRI Secretary, conducted three programmes in Varanasi in February.

The first was a one-day programme for formators (February 20), which was part of the three-day seminar on media organized by NISCORT for formators. Fr Joe covered these topics: Ten Principles of Formation; The Three Stakeholders of Formation; Qualities of a Good Formator; Tips for Formators.

After this, he was the resource person for the Seminar for Formators organized by Nav Sadhana, Varanasi. In four days (February 21-24), more topics could be covered. In addition to the topics given above, these areas were also dealt with: Lessons from Experience; Meaningful Celibacy; Healthy Friendships; Assessment; Counselling and Spiritual Direction; Confidentiality; Questions from the Audience.

On Sunday, February 25, he conducted a CRI Seminar on “Self-Care for Care-Givers.” Practical tips were given, through talks, Powerpoint, videos and group sharing, on caring for five aspects of our person: Body, Mind, Emotions, Relationships, Journey with God. While our religious orders provide us food and accommodation, books and libraries, it is up to each of us to be physically fit, develop our mind, have emotional balance, relate in positive ways and cultivate our spiritual life. Ninety-two religious and novices took part in this seminar.

Fr Joe Mannath will be offering this short programme on Self-Care in one-day or half-day sessions in various regions this year. May we take responsibility to be physically fit, mentally alert, emotionally balanced, friendly and helpful towards people and spiritually focussed. After all, our main “job” is to be inspiring persons others can look up to.

Assembly of Major Superiors

As communicated in two emails to all major superiors and regional CRI secretaries, the 2018 Assembly of Major Superiors will be held at SRM University, Chennai, from 9 am on May 27 until 1 pm on May 30. Details (topics, speakers, registration, accommodation, pick-up, etc.) will be communicated to all Major Superiors by email and ordinary post.

In addition to relevant sessions by qualitied and experienced resource persons, three bonus items add to the flavour of this Assembly:

The Nuncio, H.E. Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, will be present with us all the four days. He will make himself available to meet any major superior who wants to see him. More information on this will be communicated to major superiors by email.

Secondly, especially with a view to helping participants from far away, we shall arrange a trip to Vailanganni for those interested. After finding out the numbers, we shall arrange buses to and from Vailanganni. Leaving from Chennai on May 30th (night), you reach Vailanganni in the morning. After spending the day (May 31) in Vailanganni, the group can return to Chennai  that night, reaching Chennai on June 1st, in the morning. Those interested need to keep an extra day free for this pilgrimage.

Thirdly, we plan to arrange a half-day outing to Chennai city immediately after the Assembly, that is, after lunch on May 30. We can visit especially the places associated with St. Thomas: St Thomas Mount, Little Mount, Santhome Cathedral Basilica (which is on Marina Beach).

To see the venue of the Assembly is very easy: Simply check the Net for SRM University Campus and SRM University Auditorium. SRM has several branches in various cities, and a few campuses in Chennai itself. We will stay on the main campus, which is located in Kattankulathur. The nearest electric train station is Potheri.


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CRI Seminar: Vijayawada (Jan. 20, 2018)

March 04

Self-Care in Five Areas

While being care-givers, we (religious and priests) are responsible for our own integral development. This means taking steps to grow up and stay balanced in five areas, namely:

Body, Mind, Emotions, Relationships, Inner journey.

Using current data, real life examples, drawings, Powerpoints and short videos, the resource person, Fr Joe Mannath SDB, explained how we can (and must) take responsibility for growth in these five areas. A good life is an integrated life of maturity in these five aspects, leading to happiness and inner strength.

Over 200 religious and novices attended the programme, which was held at Andhra Loyola College, Vijayawada. Fr Ravi Sekhar SJ, the outgoing CRI President, Fr Thota Mariadas SDB, the new President, and Sr Lucita SAL, the Local Secretary, took the lead in organizing this mini-seminar. The Jesuit Community of Loyola College hosted the large gathering.

The seminar concluded with the Holy Eucharist.

Some photos of the event are seen here. (The group was too large to fit into any one picture completely.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

CRI NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 2018

The Triennial CRI Assembly of Major Superiors will take place on the SRM University Campus in Chennai, from May 27th (9.00 am) until May 30th (1.00 pm).

It will look at two important issues: the present situation facing the Church and religious in India today, and the call to move to the peripheries, which Pope Francis has been repeatedly extending to Religious.

Experienced and competent speakers will present different aspects of these two themes.

More details will be sent to Major Superiors by email and by ordinary post.

Major Superiors are expected to come in large numbers (and with great enthusiasm), as they have done in the previous Assemblies.

The photos show the auditorium of SRM University where the Assembly will be held, and a partial view of the campus—a 200-acre beautifully maintained campus with excellent facilities. Apart from the ease of reaching Chennai from anywhere in India, we think that an exposure to a well-run private university is itself a learning experience for us, since most of us work in the educational field.

Major Superiors, please mark your diaries: Chennai, May 27-30, 2018!


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Young Women Theologians Meet

18

Have you heard of WWA—Women of Wisdom and Action?

It is an initiative from which the whole Church in India can benefit, especially in the way we learn and teach theological subjects.

It was the title of a new and creative program held at Navjivan Renewal Centre, Delhi, on November 18-21, 2017.

It was jointly organized by Vidyajyoti College of Theology, the CRI Women’s Section and the Jesuit School of Theology, California.

An invitation was sent to women religious who had completed their doctorate or Master’s or Licentiate in a theological discipline in the last ten years.

The objective was to bring together young women theologians—for mutual knowledge and support, for increasing competence in their field and particularly their writing skills. Most of the theological writing in the Catholic Church is done by men. Women are poorly represented. This needs to change. So, too, we need more women to teach in theological colleges.

Thirty-one young women theologians attended the programme. Fr Michael Raj SJ, Rector of Vidyajyoti Theologate, gave the opening talk, and invited women theologians to teach at Vidyajyoti.

The resource persons present all through the programme were: Fr Valan SJ (Dean of Vidyajyoti), Sr. Julia Prinz (Professor at the Jesuit School of Theology, California), Fr John Endres SJ (who teaches both at JST and at the Gregorianum, Rome), Fr Joe Mannath SDB and Sr Jacinta D’Souza DHM (Vice-President of the CRI-Women’s Section).

Every participant was given the chance to make a presentation of their work, and also invited to share with the group their main concerns and interests, their dreams and intellectual passion.

Time was provided for planning some writing, together with access to library resources.

A ten-day follow-up seminar is planned for June 2018 in Bangalore. It aims at helping young women theologians to publish their work.


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CRI Events & Initiatives

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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGIOUS IN INDIA

In its meeting held in Bangalore in September 2016, the National CRI Executive took this important decision: To bring out an Encyclopedia of Religious in India. Some attempts were made earlier to get church historians to write a history of religious life in India, but these efforts have not born tangible results. It seemed to the National CRI that an encyclopedia can rope in many more experts and thus provide a far more comprehensive presentation of the life and contributions of religious orders working in India. A much wider range of topics can be covered, and the viewpoints of many more scholars can find a place in an encyclopedia, while a history book would present largely the vision and expertise of one or a few authors.

To head this venture, the National CRI has appointed Fr. George Panthanmackel MSFS, Provincial of Northeast India Province and National Vice President of CRI (Priests Section), as Editor-in-Chief, entrusting him with the task of organizing the project and constituting an Editorial Board. The National Executive selected Fr George, since he (together with other scholars), has already brought out a scholarly encyclopedia—the two-volume ACPI (Association of Christian Philosophers of India) Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

The editorial board includes: Fr George Panthanmackel MSFS (Editor-in-Chief), Fr. V. M. Thomas SDB (Managing Editor), Sr. Tessy Joseph MSMHC (Treasurer), Fr. Jose Karipadathu MSFS (Secretary), Fr. Joy Kachappilly SDB, Fr. Maria Arul Anthuvan SDB and Fr. Melvil Pereira SJ.  The project is expected to be completed by October 2018.

MINI-SEMINARS FOR RELIGIOUS

The Visagapatnam CRI Unit organized two one-day seminars for religious, both of which were very well attended.

The first seminar, attended by 130 junior sisters, novices and candidates, covered the topic: “Five Areas of Growth: Body, Mind, Emotions, Relationships and Spirituality.” An integral development is a must, both for our own happiness and for effectiveness in our ministry. Each aspect was explained with examples, and the relative importance of each area shown in a chart.

The second day’s programme was attended by 170 religious and priests. It covered these themes: Building a Happy Religious and Priestly Life (something Pope Francis insists on), Facing Disillusionment and Developing Our Huge Mental Potential.

The anonymous written feedback from participants showed a very high level of satisfaction with the seminar.

The careful organization of the seminars was done by the Vizag CRI Unit, especially its President, Fr Bhasker MSFS and  the secretary, Fr Ratna Neelam SDB. Participants and organizers were in high praise of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy, in whose school and college campus the seminars were held.  Their hospitality made a real difference. The resource person for both the seminars was Fr Joe Mannath SDB, National CRI Secretary.

Several such mini-seminars on “Five Areas of Growth” (called the Magic Seven—Five Areas plus Responsibility and Integration) are planned this year, to be offered in various parts of India.


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CRI-Bandalore Reaches For The Stars!

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Bangalore is known for its large number of religious houses and the variety of religious congregations. There are over four hundred (!) religious houses in the territory of Bangalore Archdiocese, with probably 7000 religious. Their annual gathering, called Sanyasa Sangamam, tends to be a huge affair. This year the attendees numbered 1200. They met in Christ University Auditorium.

Two initiatives of CRI-Bangalore show a vision we can all learn from:

1. Inter-Congregational Effort for Development (ICED): This is a platform where religious congregations can come together and share resources—land, personnel, training, talent, money—for the development of people. Some congregations—Salesians of Don Bosco, the Holy Spirit Sisters, the Daughters of Wisdom, the JMJ Sisters, the SMI Sisters and the CSST sisters—are already into it, and have people working full time in this line. Other congregations partner with them, or will do so in future.

May such collaboration increase! By coming together, we learn from one another, avoid unnecessarily multiplication of activities, and give better witness to the people.

2. “Colour the Fallen Stars”: This catchy title refers to the destitute people who live and die on our streets. To quote Bangalore CRI’s lovely statement, they are “not the last, nor the least, but they are lost.” Behind this slogan there seems to be a serious stock-taking of what happens to the many poor people who flock to our cities, namely:

  • Thousands are on the streets waiting for a support system.
  • ‘These people do not want to remain in the rehabilitaion centres.’ This is a myth.  If good support systems are provided and people are treated well, they  would opt for rehabilitaion and support.
  • Experience shows that globalization and rapid economic growth will push some people to the periphery due to defects in the policy framework.
  • It is the responsibility of the government and the civil society to monitor the situation of the most disadvantaged in our cities and help them to have a dignified life.
  • Various ministries have isolated programs, but an integrated program to accompany the most disadvantaged in cities is not in place.
  • An integrated program should be developed which will coordinate all the efforts already done, yet to be done, fill the gaps and bring in best possibilities to deal with the situation.

To respond to this urgent need, the Bangalore CRI has come up with this scheme: TO COLOUR THE FALLEN STARS.  Efforts will be made to raise funds to help them, and to get more religiosu to work among and for the children and adults whose home is the street.

May more of us show a similar concern, and come up with practical steps to help the neediest and the most forgotten. We do not become, as one ex-religiosu put it, to make the lives of those who already have much more comfortable, but to bring hope to those who have no one to turn to.(JTM)

 

 

 

 

 


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