Summer catechism started in Thailand a few days ago. It is a great opportunity for thousands of children to deepen their Catholic faith and build new relationships after two years of the pandemic.
Thailand is a Buddhist country with a small minority of Catholics that struggle to preserve their identity. In this challenging environment, they always look for new ways to deepen their faith through regular catechism teaching.
The catholic school and parishes partly answer to this quest of catechetical formation.
The children enrolled in Catholic schools study catechism as part of their curriculum, but, for the kids that cannot attend Catholic institutions, daily catechism in the parish is compulsory.
Sisters and the parish priests use to teach catechism just after morning mass. But the situation is rapidly changing in Thailand, the birth rate is decreasing and the displacement of the family that moves to the major cities to work requires a new way to form the faithful. Thai churches answer to this challenge with what they call SUMMER CATECHISM.
Just after the closure of the school year the different parishes organize catechism sessions, they invite the Catholic children to spend time at the church. It is a period of three or four weeks that young people spend at the parish as DEK WAT (เด็กวัด) “temple children”.
The summer catechism is an extraordinary experience because the children live together, study together, and enjoy many recreational activities together. The daily chores are entrusted to them so they learn the value of service while they study the catechism.
This is not an interesting experience for the children only, but also for the leaders and the teachers who spend a significant period taking care of them.
The National Major seminary and the Catechist School in Bangkok, Thailand, are mobilized for this enterprise.
The major seminarians and the future catechists have their first approach to catechism lessons, they learn how to prepare a program, how to deliver a topic, how to cope with the kids and create enjoyable activities for them, in doing so they deepen their faith and the motivation of their vocation.
The summer catechism involves also many parishioners who give their free time to help out. Some take care of the site where the activities are performed. Some assure the food preparation and some become even catechists. Others offer their competency for special projects or simply give an eye to the kids so the catechism experience can flow smoothly.
At Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Phetchabun, there are almost 30 children attending catechism classes that started on March 28 and will finish on April 17, Easter Day.
There are three seminarians involved and four leaders, three school teachers, and a Saint Paul the Chartres nun, some parishioners are also involved.
After a long period of the pandemic, the children are happy to meet again and in doing what they are experts at creating friendly relationships.
(With inputs from Domenico Rodighiero)
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