In Memory of Bro. Andrew Suthan Chaiyaban, SDB
Bangkok, Thailand, 23 June 2018 -- Bro. Andrew Sutham Chaiyaban was born on November 28, 1935 and was baptized at St.Theresa of the Child Jesus Church in HuaHin. His family has a close relationship with the Salesians since the very beginning. He applied to enter the aspirantate and had his initial formation in Hua Hin during the years 1957-1961. At that time the Salesian community at HuaHin was an initial formation house.
In 1961, after his studies of philosophy which was a basic requirement of religious life, he studies to be a teacher to respond to the need of the young accord with the mission of the Salesians. He continued his education by studying electronics at the Thai-German Institute. During the years 1968-1969 he studied electronics at Rosemead, California, USA. Between 1969-1973 Bro. Sutham frequented on going formation in religious life and in vocational training as opportunity offered.
Bro. Sutham started as an assistant, an essential part of Salesian life, at Saeng Thong Vithaya School, Haadyai in 1961-1963 and later had his teaching experience at Don Bosco Vithaya, Udonthani. He taught and supervised the school band in 1963-1968 and later at Saint Dominic School, Bangkok. He committed himself the longest to the young by teaching vocational trade at Don Bosco Technological College, Bangkok in 1973-1991 and then at Don Bosco Technological College, Banpong in 1998-2004.
Reaching the “retirement” age, he was assigned to look after the Salesian Retreat House in HuaHin, Prachuabkirikhan. From there he was sent to assist the students at Saeng Thong Vithaya School, Haadyai in 2005 until his death in 2013.
Bro. Sutham tried to absorb the spirit of Don Bosco as a source of strength and motivation to live his life. Having been sent to two Don Bosco Teachnology Colleges for many years, he had formed many past pupils. His life among the students in these two institutions indicated his closeness to the heart of Don Bosco, who loved, with a special concern, the vocational students and young working professionals.
Another perspective of his life. Which showed his deep absorption of the Salesians spirit, was his love of being with the students in the style of Don Bosco. With his musical ability and expertise in magic. Bro. Sutham was like a magnet that attracted the interest of the young miraculously.
Bro. Sutham carried on the spirit of Don Bosco in terms of vocational promotion by being part of the vocation camping which was the apex of his yearly life. Even in his retirement years, he volunteered to work with the youth pastoral commission as his strength allowed. He was an example to the younger religious members.
His personal committment as a good Shepherd was like that of a candle melting away each day. This candle was an example of life to hundreds and thousands of young people. The sign of his complete consecration started to appear. We found out that he had heart problems. After his treatment he lived with the young he was assigned to look after. On August 9, 2013, he came to Bangkok with a violent cough and difficulty in breathing. The doctor diagnosed a pulmonary edema. During the medical procedure, a malignant tumor in the lungs was found and it has metastasized throughout his body. The physicians were of the opinion not to constrain his actual situation because any attempt will result in more pain than the symptoms of the disease. The diagnosis of the doctors in Haadyai where Bro. Sutham had an earlier physical examination (something he did not disclose to the superiors).
On August 30, 2013, Bro. Sutham peacefully returned to the Father. The superiors and the confreres prayed for him and prepared to transfer the body to Our Lady of Lourdes parish church. There was a farewell tribute in the afternoon with the students of four levels joined in prayer and mourning in the church. In the evening, Bishop Prathan Sridarusil presided the requiem mass. There were many parents, students and past pupils who attended the ceremony. The last evening – prior to the transfer of Bro. Sutham’s body to Saint Joseph Church, Banpong, Ratchburi – Fr. Rector presided the mass. Representatives of past pupils parents and relatives of Bro. Sutham were present. The liturgical ceremony went well with devotion and impressed every one. His life was a sign of love binding him with the young as a father and teacher. Intensely dedicated to the young.
The life of Bro. Andrew Sutham Chaiyaban is a sign of love and dedication to the young with the heart of a father and teacher. He intensely committed himself as a witness among the young. May the Lord give him eternal rest.