BAN PONG: 31st January 2010
The Thai and Australia-Pacific Provinces were linked by a priestly ordination at Ban Pong, in the Diocese of Ratchburi, Thailand, on the eve of St John Bosco’s Feast. Monthon Rojjanasutadkul SDB was ordained priest in a ceremony that involved two Salesian Bishops and the Bishop of Ratchaburi who bears the name John Bosco anyway, though he is a diocesan bishop! [more photos] or [Watch the Ordination on YouTube]
The Church of St Joseph’s at Ban Pong was packed with a thousand worshippers for the event. Fr Monthon completed his theological studies in Australia at the Salesian Formation House in Clifton Hill, Melbourne, where his first Rector is the now Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, Bishop Tim Costelloe SDB. The principal ordaining prelate was Bishop Joseph Prathan Srdarunsil SDB of neighbouring Surat Thani Diocese. Surat Thani was once part of Ratchaburi Diocese. Bishop Joseph Prathan was also Monthon’s former provincial.
Amidst this intimate weave of former this and former that were many current confreres and friends of Monthon’s, including a number of others from Australia – his most recent Rector, Fr Peter Rankin, and good friend Fr Frank Freeman, and of course his family. After the traditional consent of the People of God, Monthon proceeded to where his parents were sitting and knelt in front of them thanking them in silence for their gift of faith and life and vocation. And it was they who brought up the gifts of a specially presented chalice and paten.
The music was undoubtedly Thai except for the now classic hymn ‘Here I Am Lord’, while the Litany was composed by Australian-Pacific Salesian, Marc Barry, and sung in English.
Following the Communion, Fr Monthon’s parents were presented with a beautiful statue of Our Lady Help of Christians by the local Bishop and Provincial of Thailand, Fr Theparat, to recognise the importance of the family in the nurture of a priestly and Salesian vocation. A beautifully prepared luncheon followed the ordination Mass in the hall adjacent to the parish Church.
Several of Monthon’s friends and fellow students from Catholic Theological College in Melbourne were able to be present. Also in the congregation were young Lay Missionaries from Australia involved in what is known as the Cagliero Project who were due to leave for missionary assignments in Cambodia and different Salesian Houses in Thailand immediately after the special events of the Ordination and First Mass.
The First Mass was celebrated in the Monthon’s family’s Parish Church where Monthon attended as he grew up. Monthon led the celebration of the Eucharist with grace and composure. The gospel reading was the passage whereby Jesus attended his hometown and was rejected by the townsfolk with the words “a prophet is despised in his own country”. The homilist, the Rector of the Salesian community at Hua Hin… made the point that the large number of townsfolk who attended the First Mass meant Monthon was certainly not rejected by his townsfolk but many local people were able to rejoice in this special day of a newly ordained priest celebrating his First mass in his home-town. The homilist also made mention that as a young boy Monthon wanted to spend time at the local Salesian Oratory but his mother was initially reluctant to let Monthon jump in the back of the truck as it went through the neighborhood gathering youngsters for games and activities. The Provincial, Fr Theparat, spoke after communion and expressed his gratitude for the Formation received in Australia and challenged Monthon to become a zealous educator amongst the young wherever he was posted.