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The Franciscans had arrived in Thailand in 1582 and stayed here until the destruction of Ayutthaya in 1767. They can be considered the first bearers of the faith to the Kingdom of Siam, since the Portuguese Dominicans who arrived a bit earlier did not stay in the Kingdom for long. Although we are not well informed of the work of the first friars in Thailand, looking at their diaries, we can find friars in Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Chumpon and Chantaburi. In 1985, the Franciscans began a new mission in Thailand, with the kind invitation of His Eminence Cardinal Michai Kitbunchu, the current Cardinal of the archdiocese of Bangkok, bought a 40 rai piece of land in 43 Moo 8 Lamsai, Lamlukka, Pathumthani-12150, and build a retreat center, which was the aim for which the Franciscans were invited to enter Thailand.

It was the SAAO Conference with Anselm Moons (Dutch missioner in Pakistan, Gen Def. for Asia) decided to start mission in Thailand.

It was the SAAO Conference with Anselm Moons (Dutch missioner in Pakistan, Gen Def. for Asia) decided to start mission in Thailand.

The first friars were Gus Fernandez (Pakistan) and Jim Heinsch (USA, a missioner in the Philippines) arrived in Bangkok  June1985. Since then, they have been many friars from different countries came to Thailand: Gus Fernandes (Pakistan, 1985-1988), Jim Heinsch (USA, Philippines, 1985-1991)  Benny Baisas (Philippines, 1989-1992), Desmond Lean (Australia, 1987-1993), Tony Egiguren (Spain, Korea, 1988-1998), Peter Montallana (Philippines, 1991-1992), Gabriel Sabolla (Italy, 1992-1999), George Boggs (Australia, 1993-1995), Stefano Cho (South Korea, 1991-1995), Doug Hamill (USA, 1993-1994), John Summers (USA, 1994-1998),  Celso Larracas (Philippines), Joseph Peleba Tolok, (Indonesia, 1999-2004), Joseph O’toole (Scotland, 2000-2003), Paulo Cezar Magalhaes Borges, (Brazil, 2000- 2010), Manipadath Varkey Johnson (India, 2000-2011), Luis (Ecuador, 2006-2007) Honarat Piotr Cwikla (Poland, 2006-2010), Jesus Galeote Tormo (Spain-Bolivia, 2006-2014), Khushi Lal (Pakistan, 2012-2014).

In June 2013 our brother Francis Xavier Rerkchai Panuphan made his solemn profession and became the first Thai friar of the Franciscan Foundation of Thailand. Furthermore there are three simple professed friars, three novices, and three aspirants in formation.

Unfortunately most of the friars left the foundation. Recently in 2016 remain only six friars: Francis Xavier Sutardja, Alforinus Gregorius Pontus, Arvind Kerketta, Mauro Zannin, Jeff Haller and John Francis.

We are present in the center of Bangkok (30 Km from the Bangkok International Airport), Lamsai (35 Km north east from the Bangkok International Airport), Sampran (40 Km from Bangkok), Prachuap Kiri Khan, (about 350 Km from Bangkok), and we are planning to expand to other dioceses of Thailand in the future.

The original goals of the Franciscan Foundation were to enter into dialogue with Buddhism and Buddhist culture, contemplation, give witness to the Franciscan way of Life and to seek out and foster Thai vocations. We continue to hold on to the original dream through our present day mission.

The Mission of the friars are managing a retreat center in Lamsai, running an AIDS hospice for the terminally ill and the dying in Lamsai, formation and vocational discernment in Lamsai, Prachuap Kiri Khan and Sampran. In Prachuap Kiri Khan we have a parish and a house where we offer free accommodation and studies for high school students from economically poor families. Since September 2013 one of our friars engages with interreligious dialogue with the Muslim population in Betong (in the south of Thailand). Besides the above mentioned, friars are also engaged in different activities according to the needs of place and time, such as promoting interreligious dialogue, teaching catechism and English in schools, organizing youth camps, spiritual care of the Secular Franciscans in Bangkok and Chiang Rai, pastoral visits to the sick, occasional visits to the hill tribes in the northern region of Thailand, social service for asylum seekers, conducting vocational promotion etc.

 

Br. A. Gregorius Pontus (Indonesia)

Br. Jesu Galeote Tormo (Spain)

Br. Arvind Kerketta (India)

Br. Athanasius Xaxa (India)

Br. FX. Sutardja (Indonesia)

Br. Y. Damai Wasono (Indonesia)

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