Fr.Thiago,sx is a young Brazilian Xaverian Missionary who was ordained priest on August 6, 2011 and arrived in the Philippines last november 2011. During one year, he was a member of our theologate community and studied English in preparation for his mission in Thailand. His enthusiasm and zeal for the building of God’s Kingdom marked many people who benefited from his ministry: youth, parishioners and sisters from different religious communities. The Xaverian Theologate of Manila was blessed by his presence and his dedication to the different aspects of missionary life. On December 7,, Fr.Thiago left the Philippines for his mission field in Thailand. Following is his faith-description of the beginning of his missionary journey in Thailand, which he shared with us.
Bangkok, December 23, 2012 –
Hi brothers! How are you? I´m fine, but I miss you, p…e confreres! After two weeks of being here in Thailand, I would like to share with you something about my first days in this wonderful land. It´s too early to say something – I know my friends – but again, I would like to share just my first impressions.
I arrived in Bangkok on Friday (07/12) at 8:30 pm. Father Alex was already waiting for me in the airport together with Fr. Matia, Fr. Thierry and the Xaverian sister Elisabetta. From the airport we went straight to our house. It is located in a place called Nonthaburi in the province of Bangkok. The place is surrounded by trees, grass and weeds – a small jungle. Therefore, it is not so difficult to understand why there are so many snakes here. Actually, when we arrived, sister Elisabetta said that there was a snake at entrance of our house in order to welcome us. I think she was joking, but according to her the snake was indeed there.
The following day (08/12) we went to visit one of the slums where the Xaverian sisters work – a very poor place. We have been there for few hours. Sister Catarina (a Xaverian Brazilian sister) asked me to teach the children some English words and in turn they taught me some Thai words: devastating! After that we went to the house of the Xaverian sisters and we celebrated together – on the day of the Immaculate Conception – our first Mass in Thailand. It was a meaningful moment, where we entrusted to the Lord our presence here and asked him the grace of witnessing his Good-Beautiful News in this country. Afterwards we had dinner together. Sister Catarina prepared churrasco (barbecue) and I helped her. I never told you but, I´m an expert in preparing barbecue hahaha…
On Sunday (09/12), in the morning, we had the opportunity to visit and to celebrate the Eucharist in the parish of the Pime Fathers. They have a huge compound with the parish, a retreat house, a school for poor children and other structures where they are doing very interesting activities. The celebration was beautiful and I was delighted with Thai songs, simply wonderful. After Mass we had breakfast together with the parishioners – they are very much welcoming.
On the same day, in the afternoon, we went to the Cathedral of Bangkok in order to meet the Bishop of Nakhon Sawan – the diocese where we are going to work. The bishop is a good person. After Mass in the Cathedral – in which they welcomed the new nuncio – we went to the diocese of Nakhon Sawan together with our bishop.
We have been there for four days – from Monday (10/12) to Thursday (13/12) – visiting the diocese and in special way some villages and refugee camps which probably will be the fields of our work. In visiting those places we met many people; many faces and stories; many brothers and sisters, children of that humanity loved and saved by God.
In the house of the bishop we met by Fr. Joseph, a priest who belongs to the Archdiocese of Bangkok but, at the present he is working in the diocese of Nakhon Sawan. He gave us a warm welcome by saying: “The same sun which shines in your country, shines here as well, therefore feel yourselves at home.”
Coming back from Nakhon Sawan, we continued visiting some places in the area of our parish. Together with Fr. Raffaele – the parish priest – and many other lay people, we went to visit some poor families bringing in their houses the statue of the child Jesus. Most of those families are not Christians, but to go to their houses and to stay with them is a way of sharing with them our faith and at the same time to know them better; to share their life.
Last Sunday (16/12) we went to Nakhon Lampang – a city in the Northern part of Thailand – to visit the other Xaverian sisters working there. That region is a rural area. Actually, the rhythm of life is very different from Bangkok. In that place we had the opportunity to visit many places as well and to know the different activities that the Xaverian sisters are doing there.
Brothers, after two weeks I can say that I´m happy of being here. Of course, there are a lot of difficulties. First of all, the language is very challenging, but at the same time it is so beautiful. I´m counting the days in order to start our classes of Thai language (they will start on January 03). For me, more challenging than the language, is the food. It is not only spicy or hot – it burns. There is chili everywhere and I´m not accustomed. The community has been a great help for me. Father Matia, Father Thierry, and the Xaverian sisters, with kindness and attention, are helping Father Alex and myself to accomplish that Paschal Mystery so important in our life as missionaries. Besides, we are in God´s hands, we are in good hands.
Now we are preparing ourselves to celebrate Christmas. This solemnity gives us the tone; the background of our presence here. We are here to testify that God so loved the world that he gave his Son to save the world; to be with us; to share our life. This is the Good News that we want to witness through our lives. I finish this letter wishing to each one of you a Holy celebration of the Mystery of the Incarnation with the words of Don Tonino Bello:
“Let´s go to Bethlehem, like the Shepherds.
The important thing is to move.
And if instead of a glorious God,
we encounter the fragility of a child,
there is no doubt,
we are not on the wrong path.
The frightened faces of the oppressed,
the loneliness of the unhappy,
the bitterness of all people of the earth,
are the places where he continues
to live in hiding.
It is our task to find him.
Let´s get on the road without fear.”
A big hug!