This 2016 is a very special year for the Oblates of the Thai-Lao Delegation. Fifty years ago the first three pioneering Oblates arrived in Thailand with the purpose of establishing ministries that would respond to the needs of the local church. The first three who arrived in 1966 were Frs. Gerard FORTIN, Christian GILLES and Jean HABERSTROH. The three knew each other very well because they had once been missionaries in Sri Lanka.
Members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Thai-Lao Delegation
The actual mission work started in 1967 when the three of them began to work separately: Fr. Fortin worked in a squatter area in Klongtoei; Fr. Haberstroh worked at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Samsen; and Fr. Gilles worked at the Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok. Three years later, the Archdiocese of Bangkok entrusted to the Oblates the Fatima Church in Din Daeng, Bangkok. From that time, the Oblates used the Fatima Church as the center of the Oblates in Thailand especially for receiving new members as they arrived. Fr. Pierre CHEVROULET, who was then the Superior of the Vice-Province of Vientiane, Laos, announced that Thailand had become part of their mission.
Several other Oblates joined the mission, but in 1976 political turmoil in Laos caused the Superior General to suppress the Vice-Province of Vientiane and Luang Prabang; both Thailand-Laos became a General Delegation.
With the increase in members due to the arrival of more Oblates, the General Delegation accepted invitations to work in other dioceses as well: the Diocese of Udon Thani in 1979 and the Diocese of Nakhorn Sawan in 2004.
The Delegation Congress in 2007 set new priorities for the entire Delegation. New ministries were taken on: ministry with the Hmong people and justice issues related to migrants, refugees and human trafficking.
In 2010, the Thai-Lao General Delegation became a Delegation of the Philippine Province. Besides ten Thai Oblates, there are also Oblates from the Philippines and Italy working there. At present, the Delegation has 5 scholastics studying theology.
On 19 November 2016, the Thai-Lao Delegation will celebrate its 50 years of presence in Thailand with Mass at the Fatima Church in Din Daeng, Bangkok. The main celebrant will be Bishop Chamnian Santisukniran of the Archdiocese of Tharae-Nongsaeng.