Fifty years ago three brave Oblate missionaries took on a monumental task: establishing a mission in the Thai-Lao Delegation of Thailand.
Oblate Frs. Gerard Fortin, Christian Gilles and Jean Haberstroh knew each other very well, as they had worked together previously in Sri Lanka. And so in 1966 they joined together once more in order to meet the needs of the faithful in Thailand.
The three set to work upon arrival, and by the following year they had settled into three separate areas of Bangkok. Father Fortin worked in a squatter settlement in Klong Toey, one of the country’s oldest and most well-known slums. Today about 20 percent of Bangkok’s population live in squatter settlements. Father Haberstroh began work at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Samsen while Fr. Gilles worked at the Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok.
After three years, the Archdiocese of Bangkok entrusted the Fatima Church in Din Daeng, Bangkok to the Oblates. This new location became a gathering point for the Oblates in Thailand.
As the years passed several other Oblates joined the mission. The ever-growing number of Oblates helped to increase the number of faithful. The General Delegation accepted invitations to work in other dioceses as well. The Oblates then expanded to the Diocese of Udon Thani in 1979 and the Diocese of Nakhorn Sawan in 2004.
In 2007 the Delegation Congress set new priorities for the entire Delegation. The Oblates set new goals such as working with the indigenous Hmong people. A radio station called Radio Veritas, with its reach as far as 6,000 miles, allows the Oblates to share the Word of God with the Hmong people who often live in remote villages. The Oblates also began focusing much of their attention on social issues; helping migrants, refugees and human trafficking victims find peace and justice.
Today the Province includes ten Thai Oblates, Oblates from the Philippines and Italy, as well as Oblate scholastics.
The Thai-Lao Delegation celebrated its 50th Anniversary on November 19 with Mass at the Fatima Church in Din Daeng, Bangkok. Bishop Chamnian Santisukniran of the Archdiocese of Tharae-Nongsaeng was the main celebrant.