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"Teaching Catechism Amidst Morality Crisis That Challenges the Faith of Thai Youth"

By THA SC

       Bangkok, Thailand, 2 August 2022 -- On 29 July 2022, the Commission on Catechetics of the Salesian Family under the leadership of Fr. Andrew Ekasit Talhakultorn, the coordinator, organized the annual seminar with the theme "Teaching Catechism Amidst Morality Crisis That Challenges the Faith of Thai Youth" presented by Fr. John Wirach Amonpattana, CSsR, at the Provincial House of the Salesian Province, Bangkok. Priests, religious and lay catechists from the various institutes belonging to the Salesian Family, numbering 60 in all, divided into 25 from the salesian schools and Churches, 5 from the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, 12 from the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 8 from the Institute of the Daughters of the Queenship of Mary, 6 from the Sisters of the Queenship of Mary, 2 from the Volunteers of Don Bosco, and 2 from the Association of Mary Help of Christians.

       Fr. Dheparat Pitisant, the Provincial of the Salesians, officially opened the seminar. In his opening remarks, he mentioned that Don Bosco started the salesian mission with a simple catechism. Thus, the Salesian Family gives special and primary importance to the teaching of catechism. He encouraged the catechists to be proud of being one, and work with passion.

       The process of this seminar allowed the participants to integrate various sciences that could help us in the teaching of catechism with a presence of mind in order to understand the world, without focusing on finding answers to questions and doubts like the traditional way of thinking that the Church sets only this as a framework for the faith. But the seminar process brought the participants into a world of coexistence with the young while maintaining Christian identity and belief, by walking towards young, together with the young towards faith, with a pastoral heart.

       The speaker emphasized the heart of teaching catechism. It's not just the words taught in the classroom. Understanding and accessing morality, one needs to study deeply the history, the origin of ethics and morality, know the person's environment, the mindset, way of life of the community, the society and culture.

       The heart of moral formation can be summed up in 3 Rs:

       1.Research: study, search for answers, the sources, the hidden problems, keep on doing this continuously, then move on...

       2.Respect: respect the person, give them the opportunity, believe in their potential, know how to trust, know how to empower and to take care of the self esteem of the young.

       3.Relationship: is to build friendship and relationship as a companion in the journey, staying side by side, connecting to the heart with a friendly and not-judgmental attitude.

       The catechist and educator should be wary of the attitude of the idea that the Church is the bearer of truth, and adhere only to the doctrine taught by the Church until there is no space for the children to comment. The catechist should be balanced, create motivation, share experience, exchange knowledge, and leave space for pastoral care when mistakes happen.

       Putting the principles of the 3Rs together with the pastoral heart, using the formation method of reason, religion and loving kindness of Don Bosco, will help the catechist to journey with the young. Above all, we should hold on to the example of Jesus. He is the original model of a good shepherd who gives opportunity and create relationship with the sinner, the tax collector, the prostitute, the needy, etc. With this kind of attitude, the Lord was able to win their hearts and became their friends, enabling them to adjust their attitudes, to change their lives, receive treatment and discover the answers to their lives.

       Teaching morals is not just about finding the right or wrong answers, what can and cannot be done; it is a journey together. It is not just the recipients who travel, but it is also the teacher and the educator who travel with them.

       The seminar went well and received cooperation from all parties.

       In addition, the Commission on Catechetics of the Salesian Family was established in August 2018, consisting of the Salesians, FMA, SIHM, DQM, SQM, VDB, with the aim of jointly developing the catechetical work and to move forward together. There is a committee meeting twice a year to plan the activities together, including the holding of a joint seminar once a year.


 
 

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