Sam Phran (Thailand). On 8 and 9 July 2023, at the ‘Ban Than Phra Phon’ Gathering Center, in Sam Phran, Nakhon Pathom province, the 2nd formation meeting on interreligious dialogue was held, organized by the Missions team of St. Mary Mazzarello Province (THA) to urge FMA, young people, and members of the Salesian Family to be co-responsible witnesses and educators in the faith especially towards young people living in interreligious and intercultural contexts.
A prayer celebration disposed the 70 participants to welcome the formation content on the theme, “Religious dialogue in a multicultural society”.
Most of those present were Catholic: representatives of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the various communities, of the Sisters Handmaids of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and of the Camillians, lay Catholic representatives employed at the National Catechetical Centre, teachers and pupils of the Catholic and Buddhist FMA Schools. Among these female presences, a Buddhist teacher led the procession of introduction to prayer.
The Provincial, Sr. Thongyou Kitsakul, gave the welcome, underlining that the possibility of an encounter on religious dialogue with the presence of members of the Educating Communities will help to bear witness and share more of one’s experience of faith according to the religion one professes.
The first formative intervention was held by Dr. Mongkol Samart, on the theme “Leadership Development”. The Teacher highlighted the importance of having leaders who work as a team joyfully, building good relationships, and with optimism regarding interreligious dialogue.
In the afternoon, a forum was held on the subject, with representatives of 5 religions: Phra Maha Naphan Santiphatto (Buddhism), assistant to the abbot of Wat Saket Ratchaworamahaviharn; Ajarn Muhammad Fauci Yana (Islam) Member and Secretary of the Wasatiyah Institute for Peace and Development Chularajmontri Office; Fr. Paisal Joseph (Christianity) assistant to the Secretary of the Thai Episcopal Conference; Dr. Sathit Kumar (Hinduism) Senior Consultant of the Hindu Society representative of the Brahmin-Hindu religion; Dr. Kittipan Jaidee (Sikh), Chairman of the Public Relations Sub-Committee on Moral Promotion in Thai Society.
Miss Warintorn Haema, assistant secretary of CEThai for Interreligious and Ecumenical Dialogue, was the moderator.
Representatives shared aspects of their religion, important dates, and religious traditions, including spiritual doctrines and practices. The forum was a fundamental step for the deepening and mutual understanding of the 5 religions, in favor of promoting dialogue.
On 9 July, Sr. Phonphirun, provincial coordinator for the Missions, led the meeting for the Community Mission Animators present at the gathering, together with the lay representatives.
Sr. Anna Grassi then spoke on the topic: “The Magisterium of the Catholic Church and Interreligious-Ecumenical Dialogue”. During the presentation, the Catechist, Ms. Yupa Chulirarak, member of the Catholic Committee for the Christian Religion, was also invited to present the original text ‘Totally Catholic’ on Catholic teachings, written by Mary Cathleen Clavich and published by Paoline ‘Thailand Department for Christianity’. The edition of the text translated into Thai was commissioned by the archdiocese of Bangkok.
At the end of the sharing on the journey of the Coordinators for the Missions of each Community, including that of the two Sisters Handmaids of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Most Holy; of the representatives of the National Catechetical Center; of the teachers and students representing the FMA Mary Help of Christians Community of Hat-yai; the provincial, Sr. Thongyu Kitsakul, expressed her appreciation regarding the development of the gathering, and gave each participant the certificate of participation and a souvenir gift.