Br. George OFM, Member of Australia Province

Friar Desmond Lean was appointed the first “President” of the then new Franciscan Foundation of Thailand and he was on holiday here in Australia when he invited me to join him in this new venture at Lamlukka (Klong sipsong /12th waterway). It struck me as a new challenge after my being in Singapore for almost 17 years, so I went across to the Provincial in Sydney (Dan Neylon) and found him peeling onions for the evening meal there and asked his permission to go to Thailand to be with Des. Dan asked me to wait a couple of days for his decision and eventually he agreed to my going there. live streaming movie

I arrived in Bangkok end of 1992 and stayed with the Redemptorists in Ruam Rudi until Des could take me out to Wat Daeng (The Red Roofed Temple as our friary was known).To get there we had to take a bus from Bangkok and then catch a motor-bike for a couple of kilometres and then get into a little bus which also carried chickens and small animals with their owners and it was not uncommon to be able to see the road through the lack of floor-boards in the bus which bumped and lurched as it sped along the very dusty road to the little village of Lamsai, Lamlukka.

Having arrived her we went to the catholic church with it’s copy of the Michaelangelo Damnation on the back interior wall and we collected our push-bikes to ride through the dirt road flanked by banana trees and rice fields and fish/chicken farms for something like 3 kilometres. The heat was more intense than that of Singapore. When I first arrived there were 4 or 5 mountains of earth from the deep holes dug which were to form the water features (mini-klongs) surrounding the friary and the individual huts separated nearby (which were used for accommodation).

Because this Foundation (belonging to our General Office in Rome) was just beginning there was no blue-print to follow. Some said it should be a Retreat House apostolate; but it was in such an out-of-the-way-place in the middle of the rice fields of those days that this idea was seen as impractical.

Because I had completed a nursing course at Sydney’s St Vincent’s hospital I soon found myself setting up to receive young people in the last stages of A.I.D.S from the Bamraat Hospital in Bangkok. The youngest was 16 and the oldest was 35. Even this hospital rejected them and was leaving them to die. I tried to give them a little quality of life before they went to Buddha. I was dealing with death the whole time and it occurred to me that the story told of how St Francis of Assisi reached out to embrace the leper was right here with me as I lived and worked among these “modern lepers” and that just as Francis was changed by the leper I saw myself being changed by these young men and women. What had been an open-ended call to help out in Lamsai was now something concrete.

Because I lived over in the separated area with them I picked up much of their slang and sometimes this proved embarrassing when speaking with professional people such as doctors or nurses who sometimes visited. Yes you have to speak Thai to be with them but it’s not as difficult as some people say. Over those 3 full years that I was there I dealt with 79 young dying people so Sister Death was always around. You might even say I nursed these 79 people to death and even had to be their undertaker (not a pleasant task). I had to use formaldehydes to inject all the obvious parts of the body to somewhat preserve them until the police (acting as undertakers) took them for the one day in the year when just one Wat (temple) cremated them…not a pretty sight to see them stacked up like postal sacks until they finally were sent to Buddha through cremation.

In my time there I was left alone to work in this apostolate and I can honestly say that it’s not easy. Three years is enough living and working with death if you are working alone. But if you ask me which apostolate in my life as a friar did I find most fulfilling I would hasten to say that it was my time in Bangkok. I left Thailand 1995 with sweet memory. Now the pace of those early years has changed and the Friars are doing marvellous work there …..and have quite a number of young Thai friars in Thailand. God bless!

1 Comment

  1. Eric A. Rivero

    Sat 17th May 2014 at 3:47 AM

    Sun 13th Apr 2014 at 06:45

    Yo conoci al Hermano George cuando recibi la generosa ayuda del Hospicio Santa Clara via el Obispo de Thailandia y a traves del Vicario General Padre Kitcharoen y del Padre Antonio Egiguren, en aquel momento Principal del Hospicio. Me recuerdo de la gentilesa, la bondad y la forma suave de hablar del hermano George, su dedicacion para con los enfermos de sida y sus palabras de ensenanza para mi; tambien recuerdo al Padre Gabriel Sabolla de Italia, al Hermano Stefan de Corea, a Kru Kamon, administrador del Hospicio, a Madame Kun Lek, la extraordinaria cocinera, a los dos trabajadores multifaceticos(que no recuerdo sus nombres) y a sus respectivas esposas que una trabajaba en la lavanderia y la otra en servicio. Sobre todo, recuerdo al Padre “Tony” Eguiguren, de Euskadi, en Espana, uno de los hombres mas sapientos que he conocido, con una logica de direccion, organizacion y de economia indiscutibles, poliglota y maestro!!. Mi estancia de dos anos en este bendecido lugar me permitio poner mi pequeno grano de arena alli, para mi orgullo, mi nombre firma los planos del proyecto electrico del Hospicio y tambien la ejecucion total de dicho proyecto, que incluyeron, la instalacion del servicio telefonico, de intercomunicadores y television, la planta electrica de emergencia con su transfer la creacion del taller de mantenimiento, la elaboracion y ejecucion del sistema de regadio de los bellos jardines y muchos trabajos mas que fueron ejecutados sin cobro alguno de dinero, solamente para honrar a San Francisco ( Que su estatua cambio de lugar despues que se terminara la fuente iluminada que ahora rige la entrada del edificio principal). Aleluya, bendito sea Nuestro Senor Jesucristo y benditos sean todos los que dieron y dan su esfuerzo en el Hospicio Santa Clara. Bendiciones a los que dirigen y trabajan en la actualidad en este lugar de Paz. Hermano George, por favor, escribame. Eric A. Rivero, Cape Coral, Florida,EUA.

    I know brother George when I received the generous support of Hospice Santa Clara via the Bishop of Thailand and through the Vicar General Father kitcharoen and Father Antonio Egiguren , at that time Principal of the Hospice. I remember the gentilesa , kindness and gentle way of speaking of Brother George , his dedication towards AIDS patients and His words to my teaching ; also remember Father Gabriel Sabolla of Italy, Brother Stefan of Korea; Kru Kamon , Hospice administrator; Madame Kun Lek , extraordinary cook , two multifaceted workers (who do not remember their names ) and their respective wives, one worked in the laundry and the other at service. Mostly , I remember the Father ” Tony” Egiguren of Euskadi, located in Spain, one of the men most sapientos I have met with a logic address, organization and economy indisputable , polyglot and teacher ! . My stay of two years in this blessed place allowed me to put my little grain of sand there, for my pride, my signature appear at the plans of the Electrical project of the Hospice and also the overall execution of that project , which included, the installation of telephone service , intercom and television, the emergency power plant with the transfer; creating the maintenance workshop, the preparation and execution of the irrigation system of the beautiful gardens and many work more than were executed without any payment of money, only to honor San Francisco ( May his statue change of venue after the lighted fountain that now governs the entrance of the main building was finished ) . Hallelujah, blessed be our Lord Jesus Christ and blessed are all who gave and give their effort at the Hospice Santa Clara. Blessings to those who dirigeny currently working in this place of peace. Brother George , please email me . Eric A. Rivero , Cape Coral , Florida , USA.


Add comment

Copyright © 2012 OFM Thailand