Married couples in Thailand recently met at a workshop reflecting on pastoral challenges confronting their vocation, which emphazised the role of the Holy Family as their guide. “The seminar engaged the couples in exploring the sanctity of marriage, the art of communication, and enhancing their relationship, keeping the Holy Family of Nazareth as the center of their love,” Fr. Ignazio Adisak Somsangsuang, parish priest St. Peter Church in Sam Phran, told CNA Oct. 8. “Families are the fundamental cells of union, and of hope of a future,” Fr. Somsangsuang continued. “Keeping the Holy Family of Nazareth in mind, they can be fruitful and will contribute to their personal development, and the social development of our society and country.” St. Peter's hosted the seminar aimed at making saints of these couples — a fitting location, as the parish, located in a suburb of Bangkok, was the home of Blessed Nicholas Boonkerd Kitbamrung. The parish holds the relics of the priest who was martyred in 1944, and baptized more than 60 fellow prisoners when he was held by the government, accused of assisting foreign powers. The seminar was held for young Catholic couples to help them identify the roles and responsibilities given them through their participation in the sacrament of marriage. Fr. Somsangsuang noted the concurrent Synod on the Family being held in Rome to discuss pastoral challenges to the family throughout the world. “But in our own parish context,” he reflected, “we have the responsibility to help them understand, to prepare families, to ignite their vocation and faith, for the building-up of our Church and society.” The couples attending the workshop prayed for the Synod on the Family, asking God that it would be a successful gathering of the world's bishops. Fr. Somsangsuang remarked that “family relationships are becoming more fragile” in Thailand, noting the isolation brought on by such factors as work stress and the often impersonal nature of social media. “We need to revive family bonds, interpersonal communications, and their relationship as couples, and with their children and society,” Fr. Somsangsuang explained. Christian families in Thailand face particular challenges, as they form fewer than one percent of the population of the largely Buddhist nation. Mixed marriages and adult catechumens are common, and these need support and regular catechesis on the integration of culture and faith; parish life in Thailand is sensitive to understanding these challenges.
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