.- At a recent conference held in Bangkok, Thai bishops gathered with the faithful to share and reflect on ways to share the gospel in their local communities.
“Let us all, including bishops and priests, be 'converted' and stirred up to boldly follow the path illuminated by the apostolic exhortation 'Evangelii Gaudium'”, Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok exhorted during the July 14-18 seminar “Experiences and Exchanging Ways of Evangelization.”
He added, “let us be inspired, and follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis' teachings in reaching out into the peripheries.”
The seminar, which his held biannually, gathered the bishops and bishops emeritus, the priest, religious, and faithful of the Archdiocese of Bangkok, plus its five suffragan dioceses: Chanthaburi, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan, Ratchaburi, and Surat Thani.
“It’s an important, refreshing workshop for us priests, so we can understand the current realities of evangelization, widen our approach, and update our knowledge,” Fr. Somkait Trinikorn, a professor of biblical studies at Thailand’s Lux Mundi seminary, told CNA July 25.
He described the conference as “a time where we can exchange methods, learning new ways to proclaim Christ in our dioceses during modern times.”
The participating ordinaries, who were joined by three bishops emeritus, gave a particular impetus to attending priests by sharing from their wealth of pastoral experience.
“The event was enhanced by drawing upon the pastoral experiences from both the diocesan and grass-root parish levels in a fruitful exchange,” Fr. Trinikorn said.
The priest reflected particularly upon the importance of interreligious dialogue in the pluralistic society of Thailand, where Christianity is a minority religion.
Some 93 percent of Thais are Buddhist, and five percent are Muslims. Christians, most of whom are Catholic, are less than one percent of Thais.
The hundreds of thousands of Catholics in Thailand do, however, work to contribute to the common good of the nation's more than 66 million people, providing services in education, social life, healthcare, and the promotion of human rights and dignity.
Fr. Trinikorn also noted that the seminar discussed the potential of social media in evangelization.
“We priests acknowledge the need, and the power of media for proclaiming the bible … and acknowledge the power of media and the internet in order to serve the new evangelization.”
He concluded that the biannual meeting is a good chance to have a common encounter between bishops and priests from across the country, “enriching our priesthood, and the friendship among our dioceses … as we learn and grow together in ways of mission and serving the Church.”