Bangkok (AsiaNews) - Across the country, yestereday there was celebrated the "National Youth Day". Created in 1985, when the United Nations launched the international year of youth, the day was assigned to 20 September because according to the Thai tradition, two kings were born on that date, Rama V and Rama VIII, both of whom ascended to the throne at a young age.
For the occasion, Mons. Silvio Siripong Charatsri, President of the Thai Bishops' Conference, sent a message to young people invoking the words of Pope Benedict XVI for the 27th World Youth Day, with the theme "Rejoice in the Lord always (Phil 4:4)". In the text, the Bishop explains that the young peopel's joy comes from being united, from being Christians, from having faith in God, making their own contribution to the Church and spreading good around them. "We should", he said, "be joyful always ... even when we face problems, asking God to receive his blessing to face the difficulties".
"This year", Mons. Charatsri explained, "is special because Benedict XVI has announced the year of faith, to encourage Christians, especially young people, to participate in the New Evangelization. We should be excited about experiencing the presence of God, thanks to the 'bridge of faith' always open for us thanks to our closeness to Christ and to being members of the Church through baptism".
Mons. Charatsri reminds young people of the urgency of the mission: "the present time challenges you to be courageous witnesses of Christ in life and to proclaim Him before all your friends, to Catholics who do not practice the faith, so that we may have the courage to return to him with a joyful heart".
On the occasion of this Day, other religious figures also sent messages. The venerable Phra Thepyanmahamuni, the Buddhist Abbot of the Dhamakai temple, stated that "young people are the future of the world and there will be no peace if young people will create problems for the world". The Abbot has created a project called "The Virtuous Stars" to encourage young people to be "seedlings of peace" through discipline, respect for others and collaboration with all social institutions: the Church, the family, the school. Teachers and students participating in the "Virtuous Stars" often testify to the quality and effectiveness of the project.
Woravuth, a student from Rajprachanukraw, said that for him, after having participated in the project, "now it's easier to be happy and to do something good."
Abbot Phra Thepyanmahamuni reiterated that he wanted to continue the experience of "Virtuous Stars", now in its fifth year.
Chaiwat Chertbumrung, President of Thai Youth Congress, appealed to the government to support the education of young people and to promote their freedoms and rights. He wants the government to increase the funds allocated to this objective.