Short Film on Alumnus Fetches Accolades

Short Film on Alumnus Fetches Accolades

Pedong, Kalimpong
A short film on an alumnus of early 1930s entitled “Missionary of the Balasun Valley” screened at the celebration of Extraordinary Missionary Month of Darjeeling-Sikkim-Bhutan Diocese held on 31 October 2019 at St. George School, Pedong, northeast of Kalimpong town in North Bengal won overwhelming accolades.
The 6 minutes long docufilm features outstanding Italian Salesian missionary Fr Luigi Jellici who worked in the Balasun Valley from 1963 till his death in 2009 from Sonada and Mirik in Darjeeling district.
Click the link to watch the film:
Luigi Jellici born in Tesero near Trentino in northeastern Italy came to India with 7 Salesian companions on 5th December 1932 and was a student of Salesian College in Shillong.
After 17 years in Calcutta, Fr Luigi was transferred to Sonada where he stayed for 29 years after which he moved to Mirik in 1992 where he worked for 17 years.
Catechist Mr Cleophas Giri of Sonada who preached and taught catechism with Fr Luigi from 1975 to 1990 lists at least 18 places where the duo worked: Marma, Gopaldhara, Sangma, Tarzum, Margaret’s Hope, Nehru Balasun, Singer, Rungmukh, Dhajea, Nagari, Malat, Shantirani, Dilaram, Sonada, Gorabari, Chatakpur, Dhotria and Chaibagan.
“Fr. Jellicii never denied educational help to a student of his mission. At one time Fr Jellici had over 1,500 children in his scholarship program,” recalls Headmistress of Nirmala Academy Mrs Rupa Lepcha of Gorabari, Sonada.
Luigi Jellici born in Tesero near Trentino in northeastern Italy came to India with 7 Salesian companions on 5th December 1932 and was a student of Salesian College in Shillong.
After 17 years in Calcutta, Fr Luigi was transferred to Sonada where he stayed for 29 years after which he moved to Mirik in 1992 where he worked for 17 years.
Catechist Mr Cleophas Giri of Sonada who preached and taught catechism with Fr Luigi from 1975 to 1990 lists at least 18 places where the duo worked: Marma, Gopaldhara, Sangma, Tarzum, Margaret’s Hope, Nehru Balasun, Singer, Rungmukh, Dhajea, Nagari, Malat, Shantirani, Dilaram, Sonada, Gorabari, Chatakpur, Dhotria and Chaibagan.
“Fr. Jellicii never denied educational help to a student of his mission. At one time Fr Jellici had over 1,500 children in his scholarship program,” recalls Headmistress of Nirmala Academy Mrs Rupa Lepcha of Gorabari, Sonada.
In the interview for the docufilm Bishop Stephen Lepcha of Darjeeling recalls Fr Jellici as an “outstanding missionary who worked very hard for the missions. He always preferred to walk, because he wanted to meet people – the old strategy of the missionaries who visited families on foot for the sake of the Good News.”
At the end of the film, Bishop Lepcha does not hesitate to claim Fr Jellici was “indeed a walking Jesus who reached out to all people.”
Director and producer of the film Fr. C. M. Paul says, “when Fr Jellici took charge of Balasun valley area, there were only 5 Catholic families in the whole Balasun mission: one in Gorabari, one in Balasun, and 3 in Shantirani-Pacheng Bazar.”
At Fr. Jellici’s death at the age of 94, in 2009, there were 24 Mass centers, parishes in Sonada and Mirik, as well as a quasi-parish in Dhajea and over 400 Catholic families.
Rector of Salesian College Siliguri who lived 17 years with Fr Luigi both in Sonada and Mirik Dr. (Fr.) Mathew Pulingathil says, “Fr Luigi exuded Salesian characteristics of passion for people, especially the young, the desire to be present with people and assist them, and love for music were part and parcel of his life.”
One of Fr Jellici’s fans Marina Rai comments on Facebook, “Such a beautiful documentary depicting life of our dear Fr. Jellici. Just a thought of him made me emotional, his home visits, his short but very powerful sermons, his snow white beard (also nicknamed dariwala Fr.) his cycle & sometimes hanging behind a bus with his cycle tucked on the bus roof, he was a true missionary… Hats off! to the production team.”
“Excellent presentation of a simple life… I loved and admired his zeal. I still remember some of his powerful sermons and good night talks. Love you Fr. Jellici. Fitting tribute Fr. C M Paul. Love you for this,” writes George Nellikunnel on Facebook.

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