ASIA/THAILAND - The formation Center for priests in Saeng Tham confirms and renews its educational mission

Thursday, 25 January 2024 priests   seminaries   seminarians  

Bangkok (Agenzia Fides) - Many Thai priests and consecrated persons have spent years of formation and personal growth at the "Lux Mundi" College and Major Seminary in Saeng Tham, an institute that has played a very valuable role for the local Church over the last 50 years which, according to those who attended it, represents "a milestone" for the organization of the Catholic Church in Thailand. The Seminary in Saeng Tham is preparing for the 50th anniversary of its founding (which officially took place in 1975) and the entire church in Thailand would like to recognize and support the valuable work today.
In 1972, in response to the needs of the Second Vatican Council, the creation of formation centers for priests was encouraged in all countries. Driven by those indications, the Catholic Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand approved the opening of a major seminary, the “Lux Mundi Seminary,” in Samphran, about 40 km west of Bangkok. A few years later, on February 2, 1975, the Major Seminary in Saeng Tham was officially opened as a higher education institution next to “Saeng Tham College”. The Society of Jesus was commissioned as a partner in the organization, structuring and growth of Saeng Tham College. Over the years, Jesuits served there as spiritual directors and lecturers, focusing on training future priests and pastoral workers for the Thai dioceses. The educational institution in Saeng Tham has become a fertile place for young people, training people who stand out for their studies, social responsibility and spiritual depth. "The collaboration between the Society of Jesus and Saeng Tham College has produced remarkable results, creating an environment in which students not only achieve academic excellence but also develop a deep sense of compassion, empathy and service to others", states the East Asian Jesuit Conference. The main aim of the Institute is to train mature and well-educated men for the priesthood - men of deep faith, simple lifestyle, friendly nature, humility, inner peace and willingness to serve - true shepherds, proclaimers and witnesses of the Good News. This educational mission enriches the fabric of the institution and shapes individuals not only into scholars but also into "compassionate people committed to service to their communities and the Church," it says. In recent years, Xavier Learning Community, a Jesuit higher education institution in Chiang Rai, has also joined Saeng Tham College to expand educational opportunities for young people in Chiang Rai and surrounding provinces. And “Saeng Tham College” has approved the opening of the Bachelor of Arts degree program in English. In all the dioceses of Thailand that have sent their seminarians to study at Saeng Tham, priests and religious express their gratitude and appreciation for the formation opportunity they received, recognizing the profound impact the college has had on the life of the Thai Catholic community, both pastorally and spiritually. There are currently about 410,000 Catholics in Thailand, spread across 11 dioceses, accounting for 0.58% of the country's 69 million population, more than 90% of whom are Buddhists. There are approximately 570 diocesan priests and 300 religious priests in the Thai Church, while - according to the Church Statistical Yearbook 2021 - there are a total of 314 major seminarians. In the nation called "the land of smiles", members of the various faith communities generally live in peace and harmony. In the spirit of solidarity, empathy and compassion, the Catholic Church continues to contribute to the social, cultural and spiritual development of the country. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 25/1/2024)