Thailand: Don Bosco receives a “thunderous welcome with prayer and songs”
Don Bosco’s casket has been in Thailand for eight days now ( Nov. 18-30). Fr Dheparat, the Provincial, is keen to express the response and the experience.
“It has been a great blessing for us and the Salesian family in Thailand to have Don Bosco’s Casket and his relics among us. For a year the Salesian Family in Thailand has been involved in preparations to welcome Don Bosco and allow his presence to be a great boost for our Salesian spiritual renewal and unity of the members as the Salesian Family in Thailand. (We have 8 groups of Salesian Family members including two local Sisters’ Congregations). The long term and immediate preparation before the arrival of Don Bosco’s casket included materials in preparation for the event being sent to all 40 houses and institutions of the Salesian Family. Amongst these were exhibitions and posters on the life and works of Don Bosco, different liturgical celebrations and prayers, Don Bosco’s songs in Thai version both traditional and newly composed for the event, guidelines for play or drama for students, 30 different kinds of lovely Don Bosco souvenirs and a Thai translation of “Don Bosco che ride” written by Fr. Luigi Chiavarino with 40,000 copies were given to each student to read. Many schools have been using the book as a text book in class. The book has been used for contest purposes such as essays and compositions, questions and answers, drama etc.
One month before the arrival of the casket, interviews and talks on a television channel offering knowledge about the casket and relics as well as the life of Don Bosco and his mission were organized by the past pupils and aired on three occasions for an hour each time. This television program was very useful as Thailand is a buddhist country. Many articles on the visit of Don Bosco’s casket , life and mission of Don Bosco, the Salesian Congregation and Salesian Family have been published in Catholic and public newspapers and journals. These preparations built up the spirit of expectations, excitement, spiritual renewal, happiness and cooperation little by little before the arrival of Don Bosco’s casket on the morning of Novemver 18. 2010.
Bishop Joseph Prathan sdb. Fr. Provicial, Vice-Provincial, the Mother Superior of the FMA went to the airport to welcome Don Bosco. From the airport, Don Bosco’ casket was led by police car and brought to the Provincial house where 400 Salesian Family members welcomed him with flags, balloons, brass brand and Thai dance. Bro. Hilario, who accompanied the casket from South Korea, presented the Key of the casket to Fr.Provincial who in turn gave the Key to the Vice-Provincial signalling that the itinerary Don Bosco’ casket in Thailand was under the direction of the Vice-Provincial. Then the long procession of cars led by three police motorcades through Bangkok’s regular traffic jam went to Don Bosco Technical School, Bangkok for the morning official welcome of the Salesian family.
At Don Bosco school, around 1,200 senior students and 500 Salesian Family members were on hand to give a big and thunderous welcome to Don Bosco. Then the congregation led the Casket in procession to Don Bosco church where there was an hour’s VCD presentation on Don Bosco’s life and mission and the history of the Salesian Family in Thailand. This began 17 days of the spiritual jouney for Don Bosco’ casket in Thailand and then Cambodia (Nov. 18 – Dec 4,2010)”.
At this point Fr Dheparat indicates that he will further report on the Casket’s journey through Thailand: “I feel obliged to do this because the coming of Don Bosco’s Casket is testimonial proof that Thai youth and the Thai people love Don Bosco so much. So far, in each place that Don Bosco visited, it was really a big welcome. I would say that it was thunderous with prayer and songs. If the place is connected with the Salesian parishes or chapels, long lines of confessions and holy communion could be happily seen. The churches are open throughout the night until morning for prayer and vigil. These days are the great days of Don Bosco in Thailand. It is a great blessing for us and the Salsian Family. I think it will be the same in Cambodia as Salesians are carrying out a wonderful mission for Cambodia. A huge thanks to the Rector Major for this wonderful and marvellous opportunity. It is a spiritual renewal for us and a stepping stone for a good collaboration among the Salesian Family members in Thailand”.