07/25/2008, 00.00
THAILAND - WYD
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WYD, instrument of conversion for Thai young people

by Weena Kowitwanij
The delegates returning from Sydney emphasize their renewed missionary commitment, after their encounter with Pope Benedict XVI. Among the most intense moments, the representation of the Way of the Cross. For all, the sensation of having experienced a real and proper "miracle" of faith.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The message issued by Benedict XVI on the occasion of World Youth Day has profoundly touched the hearts of the pilgrims, called to become authentic witnesses to God. During the days in Sydney. The pope invited the young people to "change the world", and it is with a spirit of renewed faith that the delegates from Thailand have returned to their native land.

"Participating at WYD was a real and proper miracle", recounts 23-year-old Duanchan Chanpanyapon. "The most emotional moment was the Way of the Cross, a representation so intense that it seemed real: at a certain point, I thought I was truly witnessing the passion of Christ, who suffered and died to redeem us from our sins".

Vasin Manalurangkru, age 26, of the congregation of Saint Gabriel, still recalls with emotion the first WYD he attended, in 2000: "The days in Rome changed my life: when they chose me, my family was in serious economic crisis. I opened a page of the Gospel and I read a verse that said 'God will not abandon you'. From that moment on, I changed the way I looked at the world, at the events that take place, at the realities that affect my family. I began to study with greater commitment, saving as much money as possible". He especially recalls the encounter with John Paul II, which "marked my life forever: after I came back to Thailand, I studied to learn more about him, and created a website in the Thai language - Catholic World Tour - where I post news about John Paul II, about his successor Benedict XVI, and about the life of the Church. I think that this is also a way to respond to the missionary appeal" that the pope issued in Sydney.

Sirikanya Makulwanichnun, of the Thai Catholic youth commission, emphasizes the increased awareness of the "role of the Holy Spirit in everyone's life", after the encounters and reflections held on the occasion of WYD. "It is striking to see young people from all over the world unite to pray or sing in one voice. I had the good fortune to share an experience with young people of various nationalities and cultures, and made new friends and understood that there are no barriers or differences if at the basis of relationship there is understanding and mutual respect".

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