(English Translation of the Original Text in Thai Language)
Prot. No. CM089/2020
Pastoral Letter Regarding
“Promoting Communities of Missionary Disciples”
Dear brother priests, men and women religious, pastoral council members, catechists and the laity,
After the celebration of the 350th Anniversary of the Mission of Siam (Apostolic Vicariate of Siam, 4 June 1669-2019) and welcoming His Holiness Pope Francis (20-23 November 2019), which brought joy to all of us, a question came about “So what shall we do next?” After these two events, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand subsequently communicated this pastoral message on 4 June 2020 with the response to “Promote Communities of Missionary Disciples”.
The Coronavirus outbreak in the previous 2-3 months also brought about a positive effect, which is the improvement in the state of our nature and environment. We are all required to undergo quarantine “stay at home and stop the spread of the virus for the sake of the nation” for the common good. However, the consequential negative impact of this situation resulted to unemployment, lack of income, stress, etc. We are forced to depend on the aid provided by the government and other agencies and organizations. Nonetheless our brothers and sisters from many villages were able to share their produce of rice, vegetables, fruits, etc. and helped others in an impressive manner.
The Chiang Mai Diocese also felt the adverse effects of this present reality. As a consequence, it is crucial to consider reducing the budget to cover the expenses of every parish for this year especially because of the drop in income from various sources. Therefore, in order for the Chiang Mai Diocese to continue its ministry, operation and services, it is necessary for us to save or economize, seek to be self-sufficient as much as possible and help each other through the following:
- Economize on Project Costs – we reduce costs and other expenses related to various projects according to the actual situation
- Reduce Mission Center Costs and Expenses – consider reducing the costs and expenses that the Mission Center incur to support churches, children and youth centers and catechetical center by encouraging Catholic communities in villages to provide more financial help to the different centers for children, young people and seminarians of their own parish
- Offer Mass Intentions – we request our brothers and sisters to help offer Masses celebrated in the church for your particular intentions. We encourage each family to offer a Mass at least once a month.
After putting into consideration the situation of each parish according to the number of faithful and its living conditions, we classified all parishes into 3 categories:
Category 1 includes parishes with parochial schools. They are self-sufficient and they can provide financial help for the Diocese. (3 parishes)
Category 2 includes large parishes with a big number of parishioners, which are self-sufficient. (21 parishes)
Category 3 includes parishes with a small number of parishioners. They depend on the Diocese for subsistence. (9 parishes)
Promoting the community of missionary disciples relies on basic ecclesial communities.
- Conduct a statistical survey of all baptized Catholics in the parish, migrants and foreigners who come to church
- Study and learn from the Apostolic Exhortation of His Holiness Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium), and the encyclical letter Laudato Si on care for our common home.
- Promote the “establishment of the community of missionary disciples” for lay people, catechists, Catholic community leaders and young people.
- Implement pastoral care to promote family life and preparation for matrimony
- Provide formation and training on “promoting the community of missionary disciples” among children and youth who reside in our Catholic centers.
In this regard, we request our brother priests, men and women religious, parish pastoral councils, Catholic community leaders and catechists to join together in creating a “civilization of love” in our communities and in our villages.
Signed this 9th of June 2020.
Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana
Bishop of Chiang Mai Diocese
Rev. Joseph Saravuth Haeto
Chancellor of Chiang Mai Diocese