Salesian Builds A Christian Group
By THA SC
Koh Samui, Thailand, 4 January 2021 -- On 1 January 2021, Fr Terry Tapay, the temporary parish priest of St Anne Parish, Koh Samui, Surat Thani Province, blessed the signpost bearing the name "Community of Brothers and Sisters" [Fratelli Tutti]. Fr Terry substituted for the late Fr Michael Adulkasem who passed away some months previously.
This community was initiated by the late Fr Joseph Forlazzini, the Salesian Italian missionary who was the parish priest in 1978. At that time there were only 20 Catholic faithful. Then in 1980, he helped a group of poor north-eastern people to work in the island. He built a temporary shelter for them to stay in the area behind the church. This was done also to facilitate the pastoral ministry and to help them in their livelihood. At that time, the community was not given an official name yet. After ten years, the number of Christians increased to 120. In 1988, Fr Joseph built a permanent welfare housing under the name 'Don Bosco Home'. This still exists up to the present.
Fr Tapay, the present temporary parish priest, renamed this group "Community of Brothers and Sisters", taking inspiration from the latest Papal Exhortation of Pope Francis that all are brothers and sisters, in order to promote unity and togetherness.
At present, there are 18 families living in this community, mostly Catholics from the north-east [Isan area] of the country. There are also some Buddhist followers living peacefully together with them. Within the community, the people are advocating the sustainable economy, planting vegetables in a common area which they can take as food or sell for a common earning.
St. Anne Parish, Koh Samui, is under the jurisdiction of Surat Thani Catholic Diocese, southern Thailand. This area has been under the pioneering missionary work of the Salesians since 1935. At present, Bishop Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil, SDB, is the bishop. There are 7,600 Catholics, 40 churches, 15 diocesan priests and 20 Salesians confreres working in the Diocese.