THAILAND – Year of Mercy Jubilee for sick and disabled people
The Catholic church in Thailand organised a special Jubilee to mark the Year of Mercy. Hundreds of sick, aged and disabled people from many parishes of the diocese took part in a procession and passed through the Holy Door of the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Chanthaburi, about 135 miles from Bangkok. Some used wheelchairs, crutches or prosthetic aids. Others were assisted by pastoral workers, paramedics or their families. After the procession, there were opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration, confession and anointing of the sick.
The Jubilee opened with a symposium during which persons with physical disabilities spoke about their experiences and the challenges they faced in life. The group sharing panels included a number of pastoral workers, families, interpreters and the physically challenged members, including several members from the Thailand Catholic Deaf Association.
“We thank Pope Francis for giving us this Year of Mercy, and the sick people feel his tenderness of love and blessings despite being far physically in distance,” said the organiser of the Jubilee, Fr Peter Theerapong Kanpigul, who is the national chaplain of the Thailand Catholic Deaf Association. He said that the aim of the Jubilee was to show people on the peripheries of the Church due to illness or disability “that they are welcomed actively in the Church.” Their participation in the procession and prayers in the face of obstacles is “an inspiration for our life of faith and impels us to broaden our eyes of love and mercy” he commented.
“As human persons our lives have limitations of sin. Some of our other physical limitations are illnesses, disabilities due to accidents and old age, for we are weak,” he said. “God helps us to look beyond our limitations, and the mercy of God will fill us with joy and grace in what we are lacking.”
Presiding at the Jubilee Mass, Bishop Silvio Siripong Charatsri of Chanthaburi in his homily thanked those who participated and said he was touched by the testimonies shared by the various participants who were sick or physically challenged. “It is so heartwarming and touching to see their love and affection for Pope Francis, to listen to his teachings, and they really feel the friendship, warmth and inclusion in fraternity,” he said. The bishop urged the sick and the faithful to never lose hope and faith in God
Bishop Silvio said the Year of Mercy is an invitation to encounter God through acts of mercy, through the rediscovery of our faith and the deepening of spiritual life.
Observing that Pope Francis had stated that the corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated, the bishop called for the apostolate for the sick to be strengthened by encouraging closer collaboration among pastors and caregivers.