Observing the tenth anniversary of the death of Fr. Ray Brennan, a Redemptorist missionary from the U.S., the Thai community has launched fundraising initiatives to support the orphanage he founded.
Fr. Brennan was an extraordinarily “zealous, friendly, and exemplary”
priest who fell in love with his mission and was in turn “loved by all,”
Fr. Mathew Vrasak Buranapol, a Redemptorist and missionary companion to
Fr. Brennan, told CNA Dec. 8.
Fr. Buranapol added that Fr. Brennan's mission of “love and charity” to
give “dignity to human life” encouraged him to be a foster-father to the
orphans and abandoned children of Thailand.
Fr. Brennan was born to a Catholic family in Chicago in 1932, and was
ordained a priest of the St. Louis province of the Redemptorist order.
In the early 1960s he was sent to Loei in far-northern Thailand to
administer a parish and to serve American troops in Thailand near the
border with Laos and Vietnam.
After ten years he was sent to Pattaya, a city on the Bay of Bangkok,
serving as a pastor and an auxiliary chaplain to American troops at the
nearby Utapao airport and military base.
During a Sunday Mass in 1974, a women brought her baby and handed him
over to Fr. Brennan; she could not keep the child, as she had lost his
father. The priest accepted care of the child, and he eventually
developed an orphanage.
The Father Ray Foundation now operates an orphanage in Pattaya which
accommodates 850 children from across Thailand who have been orphaned,
abused, born on the streets, and are disadvantaged or have disabilities
such as autism or blindness.
The Redemporists associated with the foundation run a vocational school
for the disabled, and a school for the blind which is under the
patronage of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
There are also two orphanages; an outreach center for those living on
the streets; a day care; and a center for children with special needs,
all operating under the motto “we never turn a needy child away.”
Fr. Brennan died Aug. 16, 2003, after becoming known across Thailand for
his charitable work. He was buried in Pattaya. The Thai king, Bhumibol
Adulyadej, sent emissaries to his funeral with a case of royal soil to
be buried with the priest, the highest honor granted to the people of
On the tenth anniversary of his death, the government of Pattaya
organized a month-long commemoration, culminating with the Dec. 8 feast
of the Immaculate Conception at the city's promenade.
Thousand of people, including various religious communities and
physically challenged children, participated in events to promote the
legacy of Fr. Brennan.
Fr. Peter Srivorakul, president of the Father Ray Foundation, told CNA
that the priest had changed Pattaya's image, and that more than 2,000
disabled children have secured livelihoods through the work he started.