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By Our Own Correspondent

Bangkok, Thailand, 17 June 2019 -- Among the 3rd EAO Salesianity Seminar - Workshop in Batulao (FIN) last May 2019 the most numerous group present was from THA Province (Thailand-Cambodia-Laos), with the majority being teachers from our schools. The massive participation of lay mission partners from Thailand is due to the strong support, physical presence and translation service of the Provincial, Fr. John Bosco Theparat PITISANT. Two SDBs from the Province of Saint Paul (THA) calmly share their thoughts on this event after a few weeks back home, one working in Thailand and other in Laos:

Fr. Anusit Chanphen (Thai, newly ordained Salesian priest, assigned to Sarasit School in Banpong)

"I was very impressed to be with all participants of the 3rd EAO Salesianity seminar in Batulao. The THA Province presence there was quite different from other EAO provinces because most of the others were Salesians working in formation houses and schools. Yes, there were some other lay mission partners who are dedicating for the formation of the lay people who are working in Don Bosco’s spirit.

The teachers from Thailand came from different backgrounds. Most of them are Catholic, only one is Buddhist. Some of them have a good knowledge of catechism and theology while some of them are very poor in these things. Most of them could not understand English. Therefore, it was very hard for them to communicate with other people. However, I tried my best to translate from English into Thai and explained to them more when it came to engage with historical, biblical, and theological aspects. I realised that it was quite hard for them to understand but they tried a lot. Over the ten days I used each day in the afternoon to ask them to reflect, and share their own experiences from different settings. I was enriched by their insights. Moreover, it was a specific time for them to be enriched and fulfilled with the spirit of Don Bosco when they lived together with other people from our region (SDBs, LMPs). The teachers were able to mingle with others, and embraced the spirit of joy and optimism even though they could not communicate in English much. Apart from the lessons during the seminar, I think they were encouraged to see and realise the unity of Don Bosco’s spirit in different settings, cultures, and contexts.

I think it was very useful for teachers but we have to attempt to find the way to support them continuously in whatever ways we can do. Moreover it is very important for our young confreres too. They should experience this kind of joint formation with Lay Mission Partners, because they are more motivated to understand the reality of the world so that they can engage what they have learned with the real people and situations."

On the other hand Vietnamese missionary in Laos, Fr. Paul Trung (Don Bosco TVET in Vientiane) shares after participating in the Salesianity Workshop over the past 3 years:

"I was so happy and grateful to all superiors and the Congregation that gave me a chance to renew and refresh my experience Salesian spirit together with other members of the Salesian family. The Salesianity course I took was very useful and enriched my understanding of Spirituality and of our founder Saint John Bosco.

And still there are many challenges for us here in Laos: How do we implant the Salesian Charism, the Salesian spirit in this land? We need more unity in spirit and in action - all the time. My dream for Laos is to expand our Salesian work like in other provinces or countries. We may start an Oratory or Youth center with a simple tutoring for poor youth... like Don Bosco at Valdocco.

Here in Laos everyday we are learning from the reality of life and we try to read the signs of our times: What God wants us to know and to do for the young! Please, pray for us!"

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