Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move
N° 96 (Suppl.), December 2004
Mrs. Patama LEESWADTRAKUL
President of the Local Organizing Committee at the
6th World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism
Your Eminence Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, your Eminence Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu, your Excellency Bishop Lawrence Thienchai Samanchit, your Graces, your Excellencies, Reverend Fathers and Sister, Ladies and gentlemen, I would first like to welcome everyone to the Sixth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism. It is a privilege to have a world congress of this magnitude held in my country of Thailand. As president of the organizing committee, I would like to thank each and everyone of you for gracing us with your presence and contributing to the success of this congress.
During the next few days, we are presented with an unique opportunity and challenge to respond to the Holy Father's call of the aim of providing new light and new initiatives to enrich the Church's evangelizing activity within the field of this human phenomenon that we know as tourism. In a message for the World Day of Tourism, Pope John Paul II's message reflected the theme of this year’s observance, which states tourism as a means of cross-cultural exchange.
The Holy Father declared: "The Church of the Risen Lord, moving towards the third millennium, must find new ways for the pastoral care of people and faithful who travel in the world as tourists, with the aim of finding them in any place or time, and with the richness of pastoral experience, welcome them and respond to their current spiritual needs, in spite of all the difficulties that our world community might be facing these days."
With this objective in our minds and those words of inspiration in our hearts, we must focus on our proposed theme of ‘tourism aimed at bringing people together’. I believe that we are all interested in promoting reflection on the understanding of tourism from the view point of the ‘welcoming countries’, especially the most advanced, since in many of these countries tourism is enthusiastically welcomed and stimulated, sometimes by hopes that do not always correspond to the global reality of the country.
I have had the opportunity to host and sponsor many groups of pastoral, youth, missionaries, sisters, and other servants of God to travel the world. Through their travels they have gained experience, formal education, insight, understanding of other cultures, and respect for their fellow humans. They have been able to offer assistance to the needy, spread the Lord's teachings, and make a difference in a positive way. I am always eager to sponsor these pilgrimages because I sincerely believe that tourism is an instrument, not only for physical development, but also for the spiritual and cultural development of the individual and society.
This World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism will serve to broaden our horizons and offer reflection on the possible future of tourism, as well as the positive influence we are able to facilitate. This World Congress is a prime occasion to express our individual thoughts, concerns, and to share our faith. I would like to wish everyone a safe and memorable time in Bangkok. I also pray that we will be fruitful in our attempts and commitments. With all of us working together, we will be able to define the future of tourism in the positive light that our faith entreats.
In closing, I would like to emphasize my gratitude to Our Lord and all of you for making it possible for us to gather here tonight. If there is anything we can do to make your stay more convenient or comfortable, please feel free to contact any member of the organizing committee or me, It will be our pleasure to aid you in any way possible. We have planned a wonderful night of delicious food, cultural performances, and other sights and sounds of the Thai culture for all of you. Please enjoy the rest of your evening and I look forward to working with you throughout the next few days.