Father Bunsong Hongthong (centre) and Phichit and Achara Sukeewat (extreme right) from Thailand pose for a photo with the Choice Asia team from Singapore, (from left) David and Gillian Cheong, Felicia and Fr Adrian Yeo.

A team from the Catholic Church in Thailand, who were in Singapore recently to learn about the Choice programme, said they hope to launch it in their country next year.

They said they are now exploring how to develop the programme for young Thais in a way which would fit in with their culture.

The team, consisting of Fr Bunsong Hongthong from the Thai Church’s family desk, and a couple Phichit (Michael) and Achara (Lucia) Sukeewat, spoke to CatholicNews after attending a Nov 26-28 Choice weekend here.

Fr Bunsong said that he has now gained a clearer understanding of Choice and is satisfied with what he had experienced.

There are currently no Church-run programmes in Thailand catering to late teens and single young adults, he said. Choice, the delegates said, would fill the gap.

Fr Bunsong said he believes the programme would help young Thai Catholics grow in maturity and responsibility.

The challenge however, is getting the youth to share as “Thai people are shy”, said Mr Phichit.

He added that during a Marriage Encounter weekend in Thailand, serious topics are peppered with some “entertainment” with punch lines thrown in. The need for entertainment serves as an ice-breaker and the activity often offers a lesson in itself.

The other challenge, according to Fr Bunsong, would be adapting the programme to the local cultural context, for example finding Thai songs that have the same meaning as the English ones used in Choice.

However, Mr Phichit also noted that foreign pop songs, such as Korean-pop and Japanese-pop, are already popular among young Thais. He and his wife are now exploring the use of Thai subtitles for the English songs.

The delegates said they hope to introduce Choice next September or October in one of Thailand’s 10 dioceses.

Fr Bunsong added that he would need time to learn more about the programme from Singapore as it has run the programme for many years. He said he would convene a meeting among priests from Thailand’s dioceses before launching the programme.

However, initial steps are already being taken with Mr Phichit starting to translate the programme into Thai. The group also said they intend to invite the children of Marriage Encounter couples to participate in Choice.

In addition, they hope to send couples, priests and young adults to Singapore to experience the programme.

The Singapore-based Choice Asia team said they will send experienced presenters to Thailand to conduct a workshop before the Church there launches its first Choice weekend. The Singapore presenters will listen to the Thais’ presentations and talks, and provide feedback.

Meanwhile, Fr Bunsong said he hopes to send more Thai Catholics to Singapore to experience other programmes such as Engaged Encounter.

By Darren Boon
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