Young Thais in Cologne to bear witness to the faith of South-East Asia
by Weena Kowitwanij
Young participants rediscover the mission in schools and towards Buddhists.

Cologne (AsiaNews) – World Youth Days (WYD) are a "good thing" for young Thais who can "learn about the Universal Church and share with the participants from around the world their own personal experiences", said Fr Suksan Chaopaknun, secretary general of the Catholic Commission for Youth, who spoke to AsiaNews. The Commission sent 51 young people from the dioceses of Nakhornsawan (central Thailand) and of Udorn Thani (north-eastern Thailand) as well as from the archdiocese Bangkok.

"I sought to prepare them to this event explaining them the history of the World Youth Days," Father Chaopaknum said. "Above all, I tried to encourage them to reflect on what they can do for Jesus and their new friends. Moreover, I encouraged them to share their personal experiences with the participants so as to have a better understanding of the world."

The group arrived in Bochum, in Germany, on August 12. During their stay, they are scheduled to take part in prayers, a pilgrimage and do volunteer work.

In the afternoon of August 17, a meeting of Asian youths will be held and the Thai group has the task of preparing the liturgy in which the Gospel will be read in English and Thai.

During the meeting a movie about youth in Cambodia, Los, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand will also be shown.

"I expect that those who have the opportunity to be in Cologne will be able to understand Christ's power as witnessed by the youth from so many cultures," Father Pitak Chantrakan, chaplain for the diocese of Udorn Thani, said.

"This is the third WYD for me. When I am back home I want to share with the young people of my country my experience, even with the Buddhists. Perhaps, one day they might want to participate," said Thasawan Tadaprateep, representative of the Catholic Commission for Youth.

"I am trying to be myself as much as possible to make my friends understand through my own experiences what it means to be a Thai Catholic," said Sasithorn Sukkaseam, who was in Cologne after having participated in the 2000 WYD in Rome.

"Young people are our country's hope and the Catholic Church has always been interested in acknowledging their importance and taking care of them," said Card Michai Kitbunchu, chairman of Thailand's Bishops' Conference. "We are trying to help these young people by all means giving them a good education, not only in the fields of knowledge but also in those of ethics. For this reason, schools are our mission's territory".