Bangkok (AsiaNews) The launch of the Asian Mission Congress is drawing nearer. The first large meeting of Asia's missionary churches will see more than 1000 delegates from all Asian countries, from Turkey to Siberia, gathered at the Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel in Chiang Mai from 18 to 22 October. On 15 October, the bishops of the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences) will meet in Bangkok at St Louis Hospital to review all plans for the event before the opening. The theme of the congress "The Story of Jesus in Asia: a Celebration of Faith and Life", aims to help Christian communities rediscover the value of their faith and the courage for mission.
The programme has already been issued. There will be four intense days of seminars and testimonies about the ways in which Christianity took root in the past and how it takes root today amid consumerism, migration, poverty and religions. On 19 October, the Eucharistic liturgy will be presided by Cardinal Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples; the following day, by the Archbishop of Bangkok, Cardinal Michael Kitbunchu, and on the third day by Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of the Philippines. The closing celebration on 22 October (Sunday, World Mission Day) will be presided over by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the Archbishop of Naples, appointed by Benedict XVI to be his envoy at the meeting. Cardinal Sepe will read the pope's message to the Congress. Before and after the ceremonies and meetings, groups of dancers and singers from different Asian cultures will perform.
Thailand's small Catholic community (300,000 Catholics out of a population of around 63 million) has thrown itself into preparing all technical and logistical aspects of the meeting. The congress will be conducted in English. To facilitate comprehension, speakers' words will be projected behind them as they deliver their address.
The Thai Catholic centre of social communications has also provided for the live broadcasting via internet of all celebrations of the congress at www.catholi.or.th .
Alongside technical arrangements, spiritual preparation is also taking place. For some time, all Asian communities have been preparing themselves by singing the congress hymn and praying every day the prayer below:
Prayer for the Asian Mission Congress
Father, you willed that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of your truth: Jesus, your beloved Son, whom you have sent, to show us the way to you and to one another, to enable us to live his life to its fullness, and to establish your reign of peace, justice, and human solidarity.
We praise and thank you for giving him to us as our Savior and brother And for bringing us to a life of faith, hope and love. Help us to appreciate fully the faith we have received by sharing it joyfully and generously through the genuine witness of a truly Christian life.
Lord Jesus, you were born in Asia, yet your disciples remain a "little flock" in this vast continent. May all the peoples of Asia come to know and love you through the love we bear for one another and our loving service to all, especially the least among our brothers and sisters.
Holy Spirit, make Jesus truly come alive in us and empower us in our mission of making him known to all by telling the story of Jesus in Asia and by discovering the various modes of his presence: in the beauty of this great continent, the richness of our cultures and religious traditions, and above all, in implanting in the hearts of the Asian people a deep hunger and thirst for the Divine.
Speed our steps, Spirit of the Risen Lord, towards the task of encountering our brothers and sisters of other faiths and cultural traditions through dialogue of life and faith and a sincere desire to heal the many causes of conflict and animosity within our communities.
Mary, Mother of the Church in Asia and Star of the New Evangelization lead us to your Son that we may truly love him as much as you did with the passion for the will of God and the salvation of all.