In The Land Of Monks

By Fr. Benny Enano cm

Fr. Benny Enano, a Vincentian missionary, is from Igbaras, Iloilo. He is the youngest of five children. After his ordination in June 29, 1991 he was assigned as parish priest to Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish, Molo. Then a few years later he was sent to Thailand for mission.

I was sent here in Thailand 5 years ago to join our two missionary priests in their mission work. Thailand is a Buddhist country where monks play a very important role in the spiritual life of the people. I studied the Thai language three hours a week in Khon Khaen University under an individual instruction for six months. But after a year I just found myself being assigned as a parish priest of Holy Saints Parish. I wasn’t prepared for the job yet. My learning of Thai was still inadequate. Thai language is very difficult. It has its own script, it is  made up of many characters and one word means many things – according to the sound or tone. But then I was forced to study hard all by myself when I had to start saying the  Mass in Thai. For a start, I asked one of our scholars to read the readings for the Mass in Thai while I wrote it in phonetics. This allowed me to read Thai words. Eventually I moved on to reading scriptures in Thai and at the same time learning how to write the homily in Thai. With the help of the students in the community, I was able to improve and even did the homily without anymore reading it.

First Christmas

The first time I celebrated Christmas here, I called for a meeting regarding the preparations for the celebration just like what we have normally do in the Philippines. And the first eager question was, “What can you give us for Christmas?” I asked them back, “What can we share with the community?” They said they had nothing to give. So I approached the youth if they are willing to do caroling to raise funds for the celebration. The youth agreed and so we had an enjoyable holiday. We had Mass and games for everybody. Most of the Catholics in the parish and even some Buddhists participated in the Mass.

What a Priest is

Then I initiated a piggery program to let the people know that priests need to be self-sufficient, that priest  are not rich, that priests need to support of the community. This project would support the scholars of the parish. This would also encourage and teach them how to raise pigs, chickens and ducks or grow beans, corn and lemon grass. They could then sell their products.

I tapped the youth and together we initiated programs for the community such as the Summer English Camp. A Filipino teacher and two Brothers volunteered to help us. The activity succeeded because many attended the Summer Camp. The joy was seeing the students on stage performing on their graduation day, confident not Just in speaking in English but in showing off their other talents.

Slowly and Surely

To keep going in my mission work here in Thailand, just need to keep my patience and always remind myself to journey slowly but surely. I’m here, like most missionaries, not to impose conversion, But just to be with the people and manifest God’s love and faithfulness.