Surathani, Thailand, 11 August 2017 -- Phanom is a district of Surathani province at the southern part of Thailand. There is a village called “Thap Crist” an area of 500 acres of land donated by the government on the 28th of December 1969 to Bishop Pietro Caretto, SDB, for the Christians who would like to migrate and cultivate the land. In 1970 the first Salesian missionary priest Fr. Delfino Crespi was sent to be the parish priest. He built a small church under the patroness of Mary Help of Christians. In three years there will be the 50th anniversary of this village.
At present there are 156 families divided into 5 BEC (Basic ecclesial communities) clusters. We are proud of having 5 diocesan priests who come from this village and this year there are 8 minor seminarians at the diocesan seminary, and 2 at the salesisan aspirantate, Hua-Hin. The children and the youth are actively involved with the activities of the church as choir members and knights of the altar. Every Saturday they have agricultural ,social and spiritual activities organized by the diocesan development center. Fr. Eleuterio Tapay, SDB, is now the parish priest. He has continued the Salesian charism that was implanted in this village by the first Salesian missionaries 50 years ago.
The people here are mostly farmers planting fruit trees such as durian, mangosteen, rumbutans , palms and rubber. Every year before the feast of the church we have a Thanksgiving Day to thank God and Mary for the many gifts we received specially from the land by offering their products to the church.
This year our Thanksgiving Day was July 22 and we were blessed by the presence of Fr. John Bosco Thepharat Piitsant the Salesian provincial of Thailand who spoke about the missionary zeal of Salesians who worked and developed this village into a lively Christian community. The following day at the feast of the church many people coming from the different parts of the country (Chiengmai, Bangkok, Ratchaburi) attended the mass presided by our Salesian bishop Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil, He emphasized in his sermon the need and importance to be disciples of Christ, living to proclaim the Good News that His Kingdom may come.