50 Years of Surat Thani Diocese
The Land of the Salesian Missionaries
By THA SC
Surat Thani, Thailand -- On 28 September 2019, Bishop Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil, SDB, the Bishop of the Diocese of Surat Thani, was the main celebrant for the 50th anniversary of Surat Thani Diocese at the Archangel Raphael Cathedral. The celebration was graced by the Representative of Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam, the Nuncio of Thailand, other Bishops, Priests, Religious and many other faithful. On this occasion, there was also the ordination to priesthood of 3 deacons. One of them had been partly formed at the Salesian seminary.
Prior to this celebration there was a year-long spiritual preparation of the faithful in the Diocese. This preparation started in September 2018. On that occasion there was a cart which carried the statue of Mary Help of Christians along with the logo of this celebration, and this travelled to the churches of the Diocese. The reason behind the use of the cart as a symbol was the fact that at the start of this Diocese, Bishop Peter Caretto, the first ordinary, had a vision to bring the Blessed Mother to all the corners of the southern provinces. [Caretto means cart]. Together with this, a mobile team was set up to realize the spiritual renewal led by Bishop Prathan, priests and Sisters of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They have made the rounds within the Diocese for this spiritual renewal throughout the past year. The methodology included meditation onthe Word of God - Lectio Divina - reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, praying the rosary, and others.
Thus, this year is a year of grace and thanksgiving for the Diocese of Surat Thani signified by the slogan "give thanks to the Lord, for He is good." Bishop Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil said in an interview thanking the Lord: "I would like to thank the Lord for sending us missionaries, especially the Salesian missionaries, the Stigmatines, and the Sisters, especially the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who sowed the seeds of the Word of God in this field of the South. I thank the Lord who sent missionaries of other congregations who worked with us, among them the Franciscans, the Marists, the Redemptorists, the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Daughters of Charity, the Clarist Capuchins, the two groups of the Daughters of Queenship of Mary. All of them came to help to water, to shovel, to make the seeds of the Word of God grow until now.
As well as this, I pray to the Holy Spirit, who has inspired the many good-hearted and sacrificing lay-collaborators to join in the work in the vineyard of God.
The Diocese of Surat Thani in southern Thailand was founded in 1969, when it was split off from the Diocese of Ratchaburi by the papal bull Qui Regno Christi. It is a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Bangkok. The area of Surat Thani was evangelized by the Salesians of Don Bosco in the 1930s.
The diocese covers an area of 76,562 km², covering all of the southern provinces of Thailand, including Prachuap Khiri Khan as its northernmost province. As of 2018, of its nine million citizens, 7,678 or 0.1% are members of the Catholic Church. The diocese is divided into 44 parishes, which are grouped by four regions.
- Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil, S.D.B.: appointed October 9, 2004
- Michael Praphon Chaicharoen, S.D.B.: June 21, 1988 - May 20, 2003 (died)
- Pietro Luigi Carretto, S.D.B.: June 26, 1969 - June 21, 1988 (retired)
- The St. Raphael Cathedral is in the town of Surat Thani. The church was built in 1962, and became a cathedral when the diocese was established in 1969.