On the 12th of October 2022, at Baan Phu Waan Pastoral Centre, Bangkok, the FABC 50 General Conference opened with a Eucharistic Celebration, presided over by H.E. Charles Cardinal Bo, President of the FABC. In his homily, H.E. Cardinal Bo gave prominence to the Jubilee year of the FABC as a celebration of the Asian Church. Through the scripture of the Mass and the theme of the FABC General Conference ‘journeying together as peoples of Asia - and they went a different way’, he emphasized that this was a Pentecostal moment; a star to follow, and a challenge - to journey forward, in step with Jesus. With immense gratitude for all that the Asian Church and the FABC has accomplished, H.E. Cardinal Bo reminded the congregation of the tasks set before the FABC; to be a missionary and proclaiming Church, to engage with the cultures of Asia, to be of one spirit and mind, and challenged them to create a century of Christ and witness in Asia.
The opening ceremonies continued at St John Paul II Hall, where guests were extended a warm welcome by Thailand’s Minister of Culture, His Excellency Itthiphol Khunpluem, who, highlighting Thailand’s warm atmosphere and values, expressed his pleasure to be hosting the representatives from the Churches of Asia.
H.E. Francis Xavier Cardinal Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Archbishop of Bangkok and President of the FABC, welcomed all the attendees, emphasising the importance of being in communion with each other, and the message of witnessing God through love for each other. Bishop Joseph Chusak Sirisut, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand, reflected on the theme, putting a spotlight on the importance of walking side by side, and the unique opportunity to renew and revitalise the Church in Asia.
H.E. Charles Cardinal Bo expressed his joy at being a guest of Thailand and marked the history being written as the long-awaited General Conference came to fruition. Echoing the call of St Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Bo reiterated the goals of the FABC, exhorting; ‘History beckons; the Spirit moves, onward, Asian Church!’
H.E. Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and Convenor of the FABC, expressed his warm welcome, marking the momentous occasion of the first General Conference of the FABC. With a reflection on the history of the FABC, and an outline for the upcoming days, Cardinal Gracias invoked the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the conference, and wished everyone a successful journey forward.
The opening program was enriched by children from across 11 schools of Thailand, who, through virtual story-telling, music, song and dance, enacted the history of the Catholic faith in Thailand, showcased the diversity of the many cultures of Asia, and topped off the evening with a rousing performance that truly reflected the beauty and diversity of the peoples of Asia, working in unison with each other.
His Excellency Itthiphol Khunpluem was gifted a commemorative coin, and the evening closed with a round of photographs and fellowship, followed by dinner.