An archdiocese in Myanmar celebrated a catechist’s 25 years of service in the church.
The Archdiocese of Mandalay hosted the first 25th Catechist Jubilee celebration in St. Michael’s Parish on October 22.
U Soe Naing has been serving as a catechist in the parish for 25 years.
The parish celebrated a thanksgiving Mass to praise God for such blessings as being a catechist for 25 years.
Though the parish priest, Father Augustine Win Myint, couldn’t preside over the Mass because of his health condition, he supported and directed him to do so.
Former parish priests—Father Dominic Jyodu and Father John Maung San, Father John Soe Tint, Father Nay Kyaw Lwin, and Father Eugene, who have become priests from the same parish, presided over the Mass.
In his homily, Father Jyodu preached about the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, mercy, virtue, good manners, goodness, tolerance, gentleness, self-control, and purity.
"As long as we are fruitful with these, we will be surprisingly changed as God’s children," he said.
"Whether a catechist, a priest, a nun, or a lay person, we must pay our life for the truth. We are called to be fruitful. God wants the fruit that comes from conversion," he added.
Father Jyodu was the parish priest of St. Michael's from 1991 to 2002. During his time, U Soe Naing was a youth leader, and helped him with the catechism and became a catechist, though he didn’t attend the catechist course.
U Soe Naing got married in 1997. In that year, the parish priest chose him to serve as a catechist, and Archbishop Alphonse U Than Aung also appointed him legally.
"I thank God for letting me serve as a catechist for 25 years. I also would like to highlight that catechists are serving the Lord with their lives. We have hardly celebrated such an occasion in the Mandalay Archdiocese," the jubilant catechist said.
By celebrating this ceremony, he wished the younger generation to know that they can be servants of God by becoming priests, nuns, or catechists and how much joy they can experience from those lives.
"With these intentions, we are celebrating this occasion. Whenever I faced difficulties during those 25 years, I sacrificed them and prayed to God. By doing so, I can overcome the difficulties until today," said U Soe Naing.
On the other hand, he runs his business for the family’s livelihood.
At that time, the church couldn’t provide the catechists with enough provisions, and yet, they have continued to serve the church, U Soe Naing told RVA News.
"We are like brothers and worked hand in hand with the parish priests of St. Michael’s parish. U Soe Naing could lead and show the youth the right way. He sometimes serves the parish by sacrificing for others. He tried hard for the couples who had difficulties in preparing for their marriage," said U Tun Naing, a leader of the voluntary work in the parish.
U Soe Naing is St. Michael's parish catechist and director of the Diocesan Family Commission of the Mandalay Archdiocese.
Moreover, he is the country's head of Couples for Christ (CFC). He conducts bible sharing, visits members’ homes to pray, and holds monthly gatherings of families to discuss family affairs.
"My life has been changed because of the gratitude of Saya U Soe Naing. In the past, I went to church and heard the preaching of priests, but it was just to be dutiful. Because of the close discussions and bible sharing, I understood well and could escape from sins," said Ma Agnes Nanda, a member of CFC from the parish.
A parishioner from St. Michael's parish has become a catechist because of the catechism teachings, says U Soe Naing.
That catechist, who is called John Freddy U Min Zaw, has been serving the church for 16 years.
He said, "I was still young when Saya Soe Naing started to serve as a catechist. I was also called to be a catechist because of U Soe Naing’s catechism teachings. He has done a lot, not only for spirituality but for the social welfare of the people of this quarter. In particular, he especially helped the children who couldn’t afford to attend school. He attempted to find benefactors to cover the cost of their education.”
U Soe Naing is leading a program called "Christ for Youth." He is teaching catechism to the children and youths in the parish.
A secretary of St. Michael parish youth, Freddy Kaung Htet Zaw, told RVA news, "Since we were young, we have studied catechism with Say U Soe Naing and are close to him and his sisters. We know most things because of his teaching. He taught us everything about religion and social dealings. Therefore, U Soe Naing is an essential person for us. We have become good people because of him."
U Soe Naing has invited the new generation to become catechists if they don’t have a call as a priest or a nun but want to serve the church. They can participate deeply as a catechist, a layperson, or even a married person.
Father John Soe Tint is in charge of the catechists of the Mandalay Archdiocese. It is the first time that Mandalay Archdiocese has celebrated a catechist's 25th-year jubilee, he said.
The greatest duty of a catechist is to teach catechism, prepare for Holy Mass, lead retreats, help in religious courses, and participate actively in different societies and associations of the church, but it might be different according to regions, the priest said. - Pinky Thiri Kyaw and Marcus Nyi Nyi Htun
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.