Thailand: Anna Aroonprapha Sukkasee and the catechism as a mission
Anna Aroonprapha Sukkasee, 41 years old, Thai, works in the Catechetical Center of Chanthaburi Diocese in Thailand.
Anna, what is your role in the catechetical office?
My role in the Catechetical Office of Chanthaburi Diocese is not confined by a specific title. In the diocesan Catechetical office, we work as a team to accomplish the mandate assigned by the Holy Apostolic Church's teachings. I am committed to the local Church's pastoral vision and objectives to fruitfully serve the ecclesial community at the grassroots level. As a full-time catechist, my primary role is to personally grow in maturity of faith in the persona of Jesus Christ. Then, my role in the office is to systematically and methodologically facilitate to transmit the experience of faith teachings to others. Basically, my specific part in the office is to assist in the collaborative planning, organizing, and coordinating the annual catechetical activities of ongoing faith formation short-term courses and workshop seminars targeted for various groups in the ecclesial community. In addition, I am primarily involved in preparing and designing didactical instruments, course resource modules materials structured on the Kerygma for diverse groups like Catholic teachers, formators, students, and adults. These free downloadable instructional resources are regularly uploaded on the diocesan website. Furthermore, I engage with the team in presenting seminars, training workshops for teachers and catechists, and providing weekly formative lessons guided by Roman Catholic Religion (IRC) teachings to the Catholic students in Catholic schools. This includes conducting classes and pastoral training workshops focused on the principal subject of systematic Catechetical literacy for young seminarians in the diocesan Minor Seminary as they prepare their journey of discernment for the vocation of priesthood. With the team, we annually make field visits to every Catholic school and parishes, have personal encounters with the teachers and catechists, listen to their feedback, and support them with formation workshops and seminars that help me develop new instructional modules. It is also involves networking and collaboration with the other apostolate ministries and offices in the diocese. The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown situation in these two years has impeded our field activities. Hence, I assist in animating the online liturgical services, online Holy Mass, reciting Holy Rosary and Divine Mercy prayers, and online formation workshop. I am also actively engaged in Biblical ministry activities, and I am a member of the Catholic Biblical Federation- Thailand (CBF).
What are the projects you are involved in?
We have various projects and programs scheduled for the liturgical year from April to March. However, due to the pandemic COVID 19 situations of schools and parish lockdown, we are engaging in online formats and developing resource materials fostering future use.
Some of our Catechetical office's projects that I am engaged in are:
o Ongoing formation for office staff - faith formation and leadership training
o Ongoing formation courses for spiritual and faith formation for Catholic teachers, lay catechists, seminarians, young children, youth, and adult-catechesis
o Weekend parish, school visits, field visits (conducting seminar-workshop)
o Project for assisting in teaching Catholic religion in Catholic schools (IRC)
o Liturgical training/ Biblical activities/ Lectio-Divina meditation residential retreats
o Project catechesis through art and religious articles (exhibition and sale)
o Online formation and print media booklets, brochures, tri-monthly newsletter, etc.
o Inter-religious community events
o Partnering with diocesan offices collaboration projects (Bible, Social communication, and others)
What does it mean a catechist for you?
Personally, in my view, a catechist is a discernment of vocation called to promote the Apostolic traditions of the Catholic Church in the ecclesial service of systematically proclaiming the Word of God in building a matured Christ-centered faith-based communities. A catechist is a competent educator in the service of the Church in perfect union and synthesis with the Universal Church's magisterial teachings and obedience to the local bishop's pastoral action to build the local Church. A catechist plays an essential role as a mediator and animator in the faith living experience in the local Church community. Today, catechesis is recognized as a branch of missiology, science with an organic systematic approach by application of methodologies in the proclamation of the Kerygma. Thus, a figure of a trained catechist is crucial in the ecclesial service of the Church, which at times is misrepresented or underestimated.
Being a catechist is a mission; the Pope also said: What do you think?
I fully agree with the Holy Father that the vocation of a catechist is a mission. The Catholic Church and Popes have recognized this indispensable identity, the catechist's role as co-collaborator in the mission of the Church that Jesus Christ has entrusted. Catechists live and share Gospel, the faith living experience mission among the people. Systematically build trust and sustain the faith-based community by animating the liturgy, closely understanding the new evangelization's framework, reality, and challenges to the mission. The Second Vatican Council recognized every baptized role to share in the prophetic, priestly, and royal function of Christ in communion with the evangelical salvific mission of the Church. Pope Francis declared the upcoming the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Bishop on the theme: "For a synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission." This is a tremendous opportunity and blessings of Kairos for evangelization for the local Church. I sincerely believe that it will unfold an oasis of spiritual renewal for us lay catechists and widen the scope to find our identity to be effective agents of collaborating in the evangelical mission to proclaim the good news of the Gospel in our respective communities.
Can you share a testimony or story that particularly impressed you?
In my daily life as a full-time catechist serving in the diocese, many persons are inspiring me (the scripture verses, biblical figures, saints…) in renewing and strengthening my lay vocation as a catechist. One specific example that constantly stands out inspiring me is at our Sacred Heart Parish at Siracha. I accompanied a group of adult Catechumens on their journey to prepare for the Rites of Christian Initiation of the Adults (RICA), a process to their sacramental journey at the Easter vigil. They came from different religious, cultural traditional backgrounds and were all very excited to receive the faith and become a member of the Church.
A lady named Ms. Earn found her profound faith in Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. Having received the sacraments, she has become an active, integral member in the parish, taking pragmatic leadership in preparing young children's catechism for communion. Her devout participation in our catechetical programs and activities is commendable. Her cheerful and formidable spiritual devotion in the liturgy, animating the choir, is exemplary. Her active testimony of faith living experience in the parish inspires and bolsters my faith and commitment to work for the new evangelization in our communities.