ASIA/THAILAND - Immersed in nature, young people discover the deep meaning of "Laudate Deum"

Friday, 6 October 2023 laudato sì   ecology   environment   youth  

Chiang Mai (Fides News Agency) - "Immersing ourselves in nature allows us to discover and learn many new things. We lived the 'Time of Creation,' inspired by Laudato si'. Now, with young university students in Northern Thailand we will read, reflect, and put into practice the exhortation Laudate Deum," says Father Dzung Pham sj, a young Vietnamese Jesuit missionary priest serving in Thailand, currently chaplain of the "Catholic Student Network" organization in Northern Thailand.
The students meet regularly at the "Emmaus Farm" in Chiang Mai (northern Thailand) where they come into direct contact with nature, educate themselves humanly, culturally and spiritually, and carry out practical activities designed to train respect for the environment and always provide an opportunity for reflection and personal growth. Opened in 2015 and characterized over the years as a place for ecological awareness and formation, in the "Emmaus Farm", students from different religious backgrounds have the opportunity to get closer to each other and strengthen their relationship with God, discovering the wonders of nature while reading and studying significant texts such as Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "Laudate Deum" and carrying out concrete projects.
In the practical activities during their last stay, the young people learned how to extract water from bamboo, a liquid with a unique taste and rich in minerals, and they learned how to make bricks from clay and straw, a very ancient method of making bricks for house construction.
"Staying at Emmaus Farm allows us to learn about nature and really get in touch with it. This experience gives us the joy of discovering God's providence that takes care of us," said one of the participating students. "Normally living in a busy and hectic city surrounded by concrete, iron and steel, it is not always easy to discover the beauty of nature and its hidden secrets. The experience at Emmaus Farm is a good opportunity for young people to expand their knowledge of the preciousness of nature, as a source that points back to and praises God, the Creator. One is surprised by the hidden gifts of nature," explained the Vietnamese missionary.
The Emmaus Farm has become an important place to go for young people from local schools and also for university students who are housed there in the 'Common House'. The farm also has a social and therapeutic value: the facility takes in people who have been "wounded by life" or former prisoners who work there for a few months and complete a path of discernment about their lives and their future. "It is a place where God's love for each of us, for every creature, is echoed and experienced. It is a place where commitment and energy are brought and happiness and hope are received. Emmaus is a word that illustrates our attitude toward life. When our heart is downcast or in despair, Jesus walks with us, shows us the way and keeps the fire burning in our heart," explains Vilaiwan Phokthavi, director of Emmaus Farm.
(PA) (Fides News Agency 6/10/2023)