3 March, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile

mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version

» 03/25/2005
In Phuket, the Passion of Christ can be seen in the eyes of people
Catholic priest relates how Easter is being celebrated on the tsunami-stricken island. The West has forgotten what happened but locals still know how to smile. Tourism is in crisis and reconstruction only concerns big hotels. Easter mass will be followed by an inter-faith meal for Buddhists and Christians.

Patong (AsiaNews) – In Phuket, a resort paradise for rich Westerners, the "Passion of Christ can be seen in the eyes of people", this year. "You have abandoned us," bemoans Fr Giuseppe Ramondetta, a priest in Patong, a village on Phuket Island, one of the worse tsunami-hit areas. "There are no tourists this Easter and without tourism people here have nothing to live on".

Member of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary, Father Ramondetta has been in Thailand for the past 16 years. He heads the small local Catholic community in Patong, 15 kilometres from the city of Phuket. His Sacred Heart and Immaculate Chapel, the only Catholic place of worship in the area, was flooded by the tsunami on December 26. During the event he saw friends and parishioners die.

Speaking to AsiaNews, he described how desolate Easter celebrations are this year, but also how strong families are in coping with the tragedy.

"My aide and I were the only ones at Holy Thursday services," he said. "Last year we were at least 30, tourists included". And because the local economy is based on tourism, the December 26 tragedy has created dangerous levels of unemployment. "There have been hold-ups in stores and jewellery shops; something that never happened before," he said.

The clergyman remains doubtful that the aid promised for the second phase of reconstruction will ever materialise. "So far," he said, "I only see the big hotels being rebuilt. Billboards announce that 'the hotel will be better and more beautiful than before', but people are still sleeping in the open on blankets and under plastic sheets."

Never the less, Patong is not only a place of destruction. After the storm, the sun shall shine, the 75-year-old priest believes. Paradoxically, his confidence comes from the people who should be the least confident, the Thais themselves.

"However hungry or downtrodden they may be, they are always ready to give and share. They possess a great serenity".

According to Father Ramondetta, light at the end of the tunnel will come only in November "when the tourist season begins". In the meantime, he urges tourists to come back to Thailand. "This is the greatest help you can bring to this people," he said.

He also calls on people to "open their eyes" and see that preparing for Easter also means being closer to the poorest of the poor. "Only in doing this can one find the joy that the world cannot give!"

Even though the number of tourists attending local churches is down, Thai Catholics will still celebrate the occasion with the same eagerness. But because "many of members of our community lost their lives in the seaquake, we still pray for them," he explained.

During Lent Catholics in Patong—about 80 strong, counting locals and foreigners—celebrated the Way of the Cross every Sunday before mass rather than on Fridays.

"Here, young people are very active," Father Ramondetta said. "I have four aides whose age ranges from 20 to 25. Yesterday they prepared the Sepulchre as if it was their celebration".

On Easter Sunday, he will celebrate two masses: in Italian in the morning and in Thai in the evening. "A meal will follow the first mass and we expect many Buddhists to participate. It is a feast for the local community," he said.

Today "such initiatives are particularly meaningful because they reflect on a small scale the great inter-faith solidarity that the tsunami has generated in this country". (MA)


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
03/22/2005 JORDAN
Easter, the 'Light of Christ', from Jerusalem to the Jordan
by Hana Mouasher
03/23/2005 IRAQ
Christians of Mosul, the light of the Resurrection in the Calvary of war
by Marta Allevato
03/31/2005 IRAQ
Easter in Mosul, Christians overcome fear and throng churches
03/29/2005 PAKISTAN
Easter in Pakistan, a time of solidarity despite discrimination
03/26/2005 BANGLADESH
Waiting for the Resurrection of Christ and the rise of the sun on a working day
Catholics celebrate Easter in a new church in northern Laos
Easter in Mosul, Christians overcome fear and throng churches
China - Vatican
Underground Catholic priest arrested
One killed and six injured after an Easter attack by armed assailants
Easter in Pakistan, a time of solidarity despite discrimination
In Antioch Catholics and Orthodox celebrate Easter together
Waiting for the Resurrection of Christ and the rise of the sun on a working day
Catholics and Muslims united by a Cross
Easter, a time of crowded churches and terrorist threats
Jerusalem: the Cross breaks down the wall of fear
The joy of the Risen in the midst of the trials of the Mideast, says Patriarch of Jerusalem
Catholic NGO to help widows and children for Easter
Christians of Mosul, the light of the Resurrection in the Calvary of war
Easter, the 'Light of Christ', from Jerusalem to the Jordan
On Easter night 25 new Christians to join the faith
Palm Sunday, when hope lies with the young
Catholics crowd churches for Palm Sunday services
Baghdad Christians celebrate Palm Sunday without fear
From the Passion of Christ to the fight against social injustice
Far from high tech gizmos, Thai Catholics celebrate Lent
south korea
Way Of The Cross To Emphasize Dignity Of Human Life From Conception
On Eastern Sunday 174 Cambodians to become Christian
Fasting and solidarity during Lent in Pakistan
Catholics Pledge Thrifty Lunar New Year Celebrations To Help Tsunami Survivors

Editor's choices
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.


by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.