January was a wild month and I never got around to writing a newsletter. I apologize for this! Also, the Green Bay Packers blew the playoffs, so a great angst set in for a while!

I am helping train three newly ordained Redemptorists here at Sarnelli House. After four productive months, Fr. Maytee has moved on to Khonkaen, and Fr. Bird has arrived. They have different styles but both are hard workers and are enjoying the kids and the opportunity to help. The Thai Redemptorists do not have a tradition of keeping people in one place for a long time, so these three new priests will be able to replace each other here in the future, with a modicum of trouble. The third priest to come will be Fr. Ole, and he will replace me as I fade into the sunset.

This tunnel month of February, both Fathers Bird and Maytee will help Father Pe with home visitation, confessions and preaching during our two missions for our two parishes. Church attendance is down, especially in Pai Si Tong. These two missions will begin in middle February. With Lent beginning on Feb. 22, this will be an excellent preparation for the parishioners by the three young Redemptorists.  

After Easter this year, a parish I started back in the late 1990’s, St. Eileen in the foothills of the Nongbualampoo mountains, will be returned to me. It is kind of an extension of Sarnelli House, and the original families there are from this area of Pai Si Tong-Viengkhuk. Generous donors gave us money to build a camping facility there for the kids. The place is run down, and I will find funds to revive it and get our own electric transformer from the government so we have full electricity and also fix the water problem there. The church also needs work, as the doors are rotted and loose from their hinges. It badly needs a paint job. This is the small mountain chapel that my dad raised money to build after Ma died, and he asked me to name it after her saint.

We hastily dug two more fish ponds and will build two chicken coops over the water in both ponds. We are waiting for the huge donation from Thai Children’s trust to implement this whole farming project. Right now, we are robbing from Peter to pay Paul, and will soon need money to pay Peter back! The work on Joseph and Mary continues as they continue to pour cement into forms for the pillars to support the roof. The roof crew continues to make the giant arches. They are running out of room, though. It will be a big roof!  

The kids are doing well in school insofar as I have not received any irate phone calls from teachers or principals. There is finally a mental health ward in the Nongkhai hospital, and we are taking advantage of it with our more disturbed little wards. I am worried about kids being over medicated. Thank God we have our Aussie nurse Kate here who monitors that stuff.

Again, thank you so much for your kindness and interest in our kids. God bless you!   

Fr. Mike