03/01/2010, 00.00
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Fr. Jean Paul Lenfant dies, 57 years of mission among the poor and sick of Thailand

by Weena Kowitwanij
The French missionary of the Paris Foreign Missions (MEP) was in Thailand since 1953. Until his death on 23 February, the priest dedicated his days to the spiritual care of the sick at St. Louis Catholic hospital in Bangkok. His funeral was celebrated yesterday in the capital. Archbishop of Bangkok: Fr. Lanfant was a model for all Thai, priests and lay.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - "A model for all Thai people, priests and lay, for his zeal in serving God." With these words, Mgr. Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, archbishop of Bangkok, recalled yesterday Fr. Jean Paul Lenfant, a missionary of the Paris Foreign Missions (MEP), who died at the age of 82, including 57 dedicated to the mission of the Thai Church.

"The work of Fr Lenfant has had great virtues in our Church, "said the archbishop during the funeral mass celebrated in Bangkok - he spent his life as a witness for peace every day by distributing the Eucharist to the sick, giving strength and health to their souls”.

Born in 1928 in St. Etienne in France, Fr. Lenfant was ordained priest in 1951. In 1953 he left for Thailand where he arrived with two other priests of the MEP. Until 1987 he worked among the poor of the various missions of the archdiocese and taught at the seminaries of St. Joseph and Lux Mundi Samprhran in the province of Nakohn Pathon. After 5 years spent in France as head of the Archives office of the MEP, he was called back to Thailand in 1993 and became chaplain of the St. Louis Hospital in Bangkok. There he was devoted to the spiritual assistance of the sick until a few days before his death on 23 February. His body was buried in the parish of St. Peter in Samphran, where the missionaries of the MEP of the Archdiocese of Bangkok lie in eternal rest.

The congregation of the MEP was established in 1659 to spread the Gospel in Asia and has been active in Thailand since 1662. To date, there are 29 missionaries working in the country devoted primarily to the evangelization of indigenous peoples and to all those who do not know the Word of God.

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