Year for Priests: in Bangkok a commitment to promote the Church in the world
by Weena Kowitwanij
Pastoral action and evangelisation are at the main course of an exchange meeting that brought together 300 priests for reflection. Cardinal Kitbunchu stresses the value of “charity” in pastoral action. The apostolic nuncio highlights the Gospel’s advice, and urges the clergymen to “give themselves to others”.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Meeting the challenges of life and of the pastoral activities of clergymen, renewing the vow made to God and promoting the Church’s mission in the world were part of the spirit that animated a meeting at the Pastoral Centre of Nakhon Pathon, about 30 kilometres from Bangkok. Organised for the Year for Priests, the event saw some 300 clergymen come from Thailand’s two archdioceses and eight dioceses.

Card Michael Michai Kitbunchu, archbishop of Bangkok for the past 35 years, presided over the inaugural ceremony. In his address the prelate told the priests to “renew the vow they gave to God,” source of inspiration to announce “the God News.” Indeed, “priests must serve the Church and the world with modesty and perform their pastoral work with charity.”

Inspired by words of Pope Benedict XVI, Mgr Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio to Thailand, said that “the priesthood is a special gift that God made to the Church and those who received His calling.” Indeed, “the essence of the vocation is to remain united in Jesus Christ and go off on mission,” he added.

Subsequently the nuncio told the men religious to “be in communion with Christ through the daily Mass, a deep inner participation, the liturgical prayers,” and the sacred duty of “celibacy”.

He also reminded his audience of the importance of heeding the Gospel’s advice, which is to choose “poverty, chastity and obedience,” urging them to give all of themselves to others “without expecting anything in return.”

The seminar was also an occasion for participants to exchange ideas and share experiences.

Fr Thawee Suwansin, a Redemptorist missionary living among the tribal communities of northern Thailand, talked about his occasional discouragement, but went on to say that when he sees the “simplicity and innocence of their faces (of tribal people),” he knows he has to meet that “great challenge” and this spurs him to fulfill “his mission with greater vigour.”

Fr Bancha Wongwuthipong, from the diocese of Chiengmai, said that he finds “spiritual comfort” in God’s words.

Fr Charoen Wongprachanukul, from the diocese of Rajchaburi, said he was “impressed by the sight of so many priests at the seminar,” something which is of real benefit to their education.

Fr Werachon Nopkhunthong, from the diocese of Chantaburi, urged his fellow clergymen “not to ask what the faithful can do for the Years for Priests, but what special gift they can give to the faithful.”