Thailand: 14 baptisms, confirmations and weddings
May 25, 2005
In north-west Thailand, on the border with Myanmar, in the mountains where the Karen tribes live, there is now a chapel dedicated to Our Lady and Saint Josemaría.
The following is a letter from Father Alain, who inaugurated the Chapel of Our Lady and Saint Josemaría, to his French friends who supported the project.
It’s done! I have blessed it, and it’s finished! I’m sending you these photographs so you can see what it looks like. Everyone here says it’s beautiful: what do you think there in Chaville? Everything is in its place, with Our Lady and Saint Josemaría. We haven’t yet got a Tabernacle, as there are still very few people here who have been baptised. None of them knows what Adoration is yet.
I blessed the chapel on Saturday morning. The evening before we met in one of their houses to play, sing and have a catechism session. It was pouring with rain and we had to walk up: it took us three hours. We had a Thai celebration, which was a great success, and killed three sucking-pigs, so it was quite a party.
Lots of people came to Mass, Christians from those parts and many who are not Christians. We celebrated a beautiful Mass. When everyone was standing around the chapel the Vicar General blessed the pillars (the chapel is built on piles) and cut the ribbon. We all clapped like mad. Then he blessed the bell and we prayed. Then he rang the bell for the first time. We clapped again, but not so hard because our hands were already sore from clapping. Then the Vicar General solemnly opened the doors and we went in singing “I Will Follow You”. It sounded a bit like pop because of the guitars.
And, finally, the Mass. 14 people were baptized, there were confirmations, two families of Evangelicals were received into the Catholic Church, and to finish with, two weddings. In short, pure happiness!
In the afternoon the celebrations continued. In the evening there was a prayer-vigil with everyone and another catechism session. On Sunday I celebrated Holy Mass and told them about the life of Saint Josemaría. They are all very happy with their new patron saint.
Around this village there are quite a few families who are interested in Christianity. The construction of a church is so encouraging – what a challenge for us! The faith of the villagers is newborn and still fragile. We need to keep on praying. It’s a little scary, because the devil doesn’t like all this rejoicing, but the Holy Spirit can always get the better of him. A catechist goes to see them regularly and I celebrate Mass for them once a month.
Many, many thanks for all your prayers. We prayed for you on the day of the inauguration. Thank you for having made it possible for these people to have a holy place and a place where God is present among them. If you know of any other benefactors who are prepared to build chapels, I’ve got projects for another four! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
The picture was painted by the Hong Kong painter Gary Chu, a Buddhist with great devotion to Saint Josemaría. The chapel was inaugurated on May 15, 2004.