01/05/2005, 00.00
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After the tsunami Thai Church to help the illiterate and the needy

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Surat Thani diocese is responding to the post-tsunami emergency by setting up five relief centres in the area.

Mgr Michael Pratan Sridarunsil, Bishop of the affected area, met six Superiors from local Catholic orders to coordinate help for the injured and the displaced.

"In order to bring actual help," the Bishop said, "we have set up relief centres in Krabi,  Phang Nga,  Takuapa,  Taimuang and Ranong, each of which will have its own director and coordinator supported by men and women religious."

Bishop Pratan invited his colleagues to work hard as God's love inspires us to do.

Among the priorities set at the meeting: determine the basic needs and necessities of the homeless, help people—especially the many illiterate—fill out government aid applications, and provide pastoral care to children, the elderly, the sick and those who need psychological counselling. 

Aid workers at Catholic relief centres will be hosted by local Catholic families so they do not have to travel too far from where they will be operating.

A Buddhist ceremony was held last night at a stadium in Sapanhin (Phuket province) to commemorate the victims. Thousands of candles were lit in memory of the dead (5,246 according to the latest count).

Thailand's Prime Minister Taksin Shinawat, other political leaders and invited representatives from other religious groups joined 1,200 Buddhist monks from southern Thailand in the ceremony of mourning.

Thailand's tragedy has not touched only Thais and foreign tourists. Immigrants, too, have been suffered.

Fr Antholy Vorayuth Kitbamrung, director of Catholic Social Communication, said that Mgr Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio to Thailand, met two Africans who sat crying at the site of the ceremony. 

They told them they wanted to say the Rosary in every church they would visit so that Mary, Mother of God, would console all those affected by the tragedy.  He gave them his own Rosary beads. (WH)



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