2014-12-29 15:17:00

Thai bishops declare Holy Year of prayer for a New Pentecost

Thailand’s Catholic bishops have declared a “Holy Year” aimed at restoring the fervor of a New Evangelization and commemorating the 350th anniversary of the first Synod of Ayutthaya in Thailand.  The great jubilee will also mark the opening of the first Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Thailand under the theme, “The Disciples of Christ Live the New Evangelization,” slated from April 20-25, 2015.  The bishops opened the Holy Year for Thailand striking a gong three times during a solemn Mass on Dec. 6. The congregation consisted of priests, religious and faithful gathered at Lux Mundi, the national major seminary in the Samphran district of Thailand’s west-central Nakhon Pathom Province. Monsignor Andrew Vissanu Thanya Anan, executive secretary of the Thai Bishops Conference and former Vatican undersecretary for the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, explained the idea behind the year.  “The Holy Year is an opportune time of grace and compassion for rediscovering the ardor of evangelization, fruitfully accomplished by the missionaries in the past, and reconnecting to revitalize the mission of the Thai Church to the emerging challenges of today,” he told Catholic News Agency (CAN) Dec. 20.   He said, “A new Pentecost will foster new evangelization, integrating faith and culture that will give an impetus for bolstering holistic interfaith and interreligious dialogue in the Asian context.”

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has approved the celebration of the “First Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Thailand” in April.  Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitavanij of Bangkok, president of the plenary council, presided over the Dec. 6 Mass to open the Holy Year.  Several faith formation empowerment programs have been planned for the year-long commemorative jubilee, particularly focusing on catechesis and strengthening Small Christian Communities.  The first Synod of the Catholic Church in Thailand was held in the former capital city of Ayutthaya in 1664.  The Vatican has also issued a commemorative stamp marking the 350th anniversary of Synod of Ayutthaya.

Today, the Catholic population of Thailand is less than 1 percent of the population. Some 95 percent of the Thai people are Buddhist, and many of the remainder are Muslim, making interreligious relations an important facet of life for Catholics in the south-east Asian nation.  In the last 50 years, Thailand has witnessed the creation of two archdioceses – Bangkok and Tare-Nongsaeng – on Dec. 18, 1965 and subsequently the creation of six new dioceses: Chanthaburi, Ratchaburi, Chiang Mai, Ubonratchathani, Udonthani and Nakhonratchasima.  (Source: CNA)

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