(AsiaNews) - "The door of faith for us is always open, ready to lead to a life
united with God," said card Michael Mechai Kitbunchu, Bangkok's former archbishop,
who opened the celebration of the Year of Faith in Thailand. The current
archbishop, Mgr Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovidhavanit, is in Rome for the Synod
of Bishops from 7 to 28 October. The cardinal emeritus carried out the inaugural
event on 11 October.
Catholic leaders and ordinary Catholics from six different administrative districts
met at the Shrine of the Blessed Fr Nicholas Boonkerd Kitbamrung in Samphran, Nakhon
Pathom province, about 30 kilometres from Bangkok. For those who could not be present
in person, there was always the Internet. The ceremony was broadcast live via webcast
In a symbolic gesture
that represented the opening of the 'door of faith,' Card Kitbunchu opened the main
entrance to the shrine to let in the Christian community. This was followed by
the Eucharistic adoration from 10 am to 3 pm.
handed the 'flag of faith' to representatives of each district, and then
co-celebrated Mass with Mgr Joseph Sangval Surasarang, bishop emeritus of Chiang
Mai, northern Thailand, and Fr Ignatius Sepphalia, secretary to the Apostolic
Nunciature, as well as a large group of priests.
During the homily,
the archbishop emeritus of Bangkok reminded the faithful that, through the
baptism, we can call God our 'Father', and, as the Virgin Mary did, welcome the
Lord by saying 'yes' to his call, becoming witnesses to his love.
At the end of
the function, the prelate blessed the statue of the Blessed Fr Nicholas
Boonkerd Kitbamrung, erected for the Year of Faith to remember the life of the
priest, "an example and witness of the faith" in Thailand.
Pope John Paul II in 2000, Fr Nicholas died in prison "to uphold" the reasons
of a life entirely dedicated to Christ and the proclamation of the Good News.
He was jailed
during the Indo-Chinese war for "tolling the bells" of Mass. According to local
officials, this was part of a conspiracy against the local government.
Vuthilert Haelom, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Bangkok and director of
the Committee for the celebrations of the Year of Faith, called on those
present to recite the 'Creed,' which must not only be a prayer but also a way
to live the faith.
Noting that October
is the month dedicated to the Rosary, he called on the faithful to recite the
Marian prayer according to the five intentions proposed by the Thai Church, namely
support for the unborn in the mother's womb, true peace for the country, a
stronger faith in the family, more vocations for the priesthood and a deeper
faith through the recitation of the Rosary.