Fr. Suthep Chornthong - 45 years of faithful religious apostolic life
Bangkok, Thailand, 27 May 2020 -- Fr John Baptist Suthep Chornthong passed away at 4:50 p.m. on 26 May 2020 in Saint Louis Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, after 46 years of Salesian consecrated apostolic life. Fr. Suthep was suffering for the last few years with multiple health issues ranging from diabetes, kidney failure to high blood pressure.
Fr. John Baptist was born in Nakorn Nayok (Chantaburi diocese - Thailand) on 18 January 1954 and made his first profession as a Salesian of Don Bosco in Canlubang (Philippines) on 30 March 1975 and was ordained to priesthood in Thamsing (Thailand) by Bishop Pietro Caretto, SDB on 3 April 1982. His initial formation experience took place in Thailand and the Philippines (Novitiate and Postnovitiate in Canlubang, then Practical training and Theology in Sampran).
Fr. Suthep exercised a fruitful ministry as a Salesian priest in the following venues:
- 1982-1983 (Hua Hin school) as prefect of studies
- 1983-1986 (Udonthani school) as prefect of studies
- 1986-1987 (Phanom) as assistant parish priest
- 1987-1988 (Bangkok, Saint Dominic school) as prefect of studies
- 1988-1989 (Banpong, Don Bosco technical school) as prefect of studies
- 1989-1996 (Banpong, Sarasit) - in charge of the Examination center
- 1996-2002 (Haad Yai school) as prefect of studies
- 2002-2019 (Sampran-Salesianum) in charge of Savio retreat house
In the words of his provincial, Fr. John Bosco Theparat Pitisant:
"Fr. Suthep was a man with many talents. Among them was his ability to organize and lead youth gatherings through group activities with songs, games, prayer and words of advice. He was at ease in front of a big group of youth, many times even with 200-300 of young people. He was endowed with gift of words that could attract the young with lessons and advices based on the Gospel values. This ability was well utilized in Scout activities. His involvement in scouts was well appreciated both by the Catholics as well by the government officials. He passed the A.L.T.C. (Assistant Leader Trainer Course).
In the year 2003, he was appointed as the Assistant Inspector Scouting of The National Scout Organization of Thailand. In 2004, he was appointed as Chief of one of the Scout Villages at the 20th World Scout Jamboree held in Thailand, with 30,000 scouts, boys and girls, coming from all over the world.
At the end of 2004, the southern region of Thailand on the Andaman side was severely hit by the Tsunami that caused more than 10,000 dead. The Catholic Scout Organization of Thailand appointed Fr. Suthep to set up a scout camp for local and foreign scouts who volunteered to assist the Tsunami victims and families, helping them to construct and repair houses, fishing boats, helping them to find works to sustain their family members. Besides, he set up a Tsunami Scout Group to assist the children and youth in the villages , helping them to cope with trauma caused by the Tsunami, through group dynamics, games, songs and counsels based on the Gospel value. (Take note that almost 100 % of the villagers were Buddhists!)
In 2005, he was appointed by the Catholic Scout Organization of Thailand as scouts' camp commander of the 6th National Scout Jamboree with 5,640 scouts participating.
The National Scout Organization of Thailand appointed him as a member of the working committee to prepare for the 39th National Scout Council Conference at the Government House. He was also given the task as the coordinator on the foreign affairs and religious ceremony.
He was also very active and led the role of re-vitalizing the Scout activities in the Salesian schools of Thailand. I would say that he brought the Salesian spirit and the Gospel to the World of Scouts in Thailand and in the World."