Youth as an "evangelizing force"
by Weena Kowitwanij

Cardinal Kitbunchu closed the Year of the Eucharist and inaugurated the Year of Evangelization. To youth present at the ceremony, his words were: "Faith may bring difficulties, but the true disciple helps Christ to carry the cross."

 Nakhon Pathom (AsiaNews) – The Thai society is "lacking in love and justice" and each Catholic "has the equal duty to witness to Jesus Christ's mercy and love to better the situation". With these words, Cardinal Michai Kitbunchu, Archbishop of Bangkok and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, presided over the official closing ceremony of the Year of the Eucharist and the opening the Year of Evangelization at St Joseph Seminary.

The Cardinal reminded the crowd gathered at the seminary on 2 December that "the end of the Eucharist Year, which united us as one in the Church, makes us more than ever witnesses of Jesus Christ to people of other faiths, when we share His love with our brothers and sisters. With the beginning of the Year of Evangelization, I would like to remind you that each and every one of us has the equal duty to witness to Jesus Christ's mercy and love. There is almost no love or justice in our society and we are called to bring serenity and lasting peace."

To youth groups present at the event, Card. Kitbunchu said: "I hope you young people will become an evangelizing force, each according to his role in society. In following Jesus Christ, you will have to face difficulties in daily life, but the true disciple helps Christ to carry the cross."

Two nights before the ceremony, Fr Kanok Sithisan, chaplain of the Episcopal Catholic Commission for Youth, led 400 youth coming from six districts – which comprise 60 parishes and 141 Catholic schools – to the capital. Here they were hosted by the minor seminary where they were prepared for the event celebrated by the Cardinal.

Fr Sithisan said: "What impressed me most is that there have never been so many youth who wanted to go for confession during a vigil such as this. I am sure their strength and desire to confess came from the Eucharist which they were invited to worship throughout last year, parish by parish."

Krisada Sonasi, a third-year seminarian in the Betharam congregation, said: "The spirituality of our congregation is to evangelize in remote areas where no one wants to go. During the summer vacation, I was happy that I had the opportunity to share the gospel with children of tribal communities in the hills."

Phusit Sornpetch, a catechist, added: ""At present the evangelization is not limited only to priests and religious, the laity also have an important role to play in witnessing to Jesus Christ and his life to all."

Patnipa Sukpak, youth leader from the first territorial division said: "As leader, I will try in every possible way, together with leaders of the other five territorial divisions, to motivate youth to participate in Church activities."

And Sawanee Kitcharoen, a member of the Legion of Mary from St Peter's parish in Nakhon Pathom said: "Every time I visit a Catholic family, I read a part of the Gospel and then we share about which passage impressed us most. At the same time I inform the St Vincent de Paul group about the needs of the families – often very poor – who I meet."