Mgr Joseph Chusak Sirisut, bishop of the diocese of Nakhon Ratchasima and president of the Catholic Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Culture, will attend the ceremony of beatification of Pope John Paul II, on May 1 at St. Peter's, in representation of the Thai Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He is one of 23 priests ordained by Pope John Paul II in his visit to Thailand, May 11, 1984 at the Minor Seminary in Samphran, Nakhon Pathom.
In memory of the visit a statue of Pope Wojtyla was erected at the seminary, with words in Thai spoken that day by the Pope to Catholics in Thailand, "Sawaddee, Sawaddee, poh rak muang thai" (Sawaddee is a greeting, poh means father but is also used to refer to priests, rak means love, so it translates: Sawaddee, I love Thailand ").
Mgr. Sirisut told AsiaNews that "with the deepest gratitude for what His Holiness transmitted to the Thai Church, we feel we should participate in this important ceremony and we are confident that he will be proclaimed a saint very soon."
The bishop has a vivid memory of his ordination, saying that "being ordained by the Pope is an unexpected privilege. We did not know it at the time His Holiness's trip to Thailand was announced. When we found out we were really happy and excited. Then we realized that we were inadequate for such a grace. I thank God for having received this grace, even though I was never good at school, nor a perfect seminarian. "
"For the past 20 years I have been responsible for interreligious dialogue, given that I have a degree in this field. So I know how difficult and challenging a mission it is, one that places the human person at its centre. We need to act carefully and gradually, to achieve a genuine understanding. Pope John Paul II is a strong example, he was an expert in interfaith dialogue, as when he took the initiative to organize a prayer for peace in Assisi [which was attended by leaders of various faiths], continued by Pope Benedict XVI who will preside at the prayer for peace at Assisi in October, also with at least three representatives of the Buddhist Association. "
"I would ask all those who will be able to participate in the beatification ceremony, not to seek personal intercessions, but to imitate His Holiness who has set us an example in missions in social relations, interreligious dialogue ... He 'was a completely dedicated shepherd of the Church, with deep devotion and trust in Mary, a witness of faith, a defender of peace and human rights. To do so, we must be humble and courteous in heart when we meet others, to bring them the love of God, and to receive it. "