Father Raymond A. Brennan C.Ss.R.
Father Ray said that he would take the child, even though he did not have any experience taking care of a child. When Father Ray accepted the child he was not aware of how many lives this one action was going to change.
During the Vietnam War many children were born to Thai mothers and American fathers. These children were not accepted by society; many did not want a half white or a half black child in their families, but Father Ray accepted these unwanted children and gave them a home.
Word soon traveled around town about the work Father Ray was doing, and more children arrived. Poor Thais arrived and asked this American priest to take care of their child, as they were too poor to provide what the child needed.
The first child arrived in 1974, and for the next twenty nine years Father Ray worked tirelessly to provide a home for the homeless and an education for the uneducated.
He became ‘father’ to hundreds or orphaned babies, neglected children and abused teenagers. He became a hero to many people living with a disability; he gave them an education, and the confidence to hold their heads high and be equals in society.
On the 16th August 2003 Father Ray died.
His body lay for three days in the auditorium of the Pattaya Orphanage, and at night his children slept on the floor next to his coffin so that he was no alone.
Father Ray’s funeral was the biggest Pattaya has ever seen. His family flew from the United States to attend, and they joined thousands of his children and students, past and present, young and old, as well as friends and supporters who all came to say a last farewell to a great man.
His Majesty the King of Thailand sent representatives who presented a small case containing royal soil which was to be buried with Father Ray, the highest honor a person can receive.
Hundreds of floral wreaths scented the air, and as the mourners paraded past Father Ray’s final resting place his children sang a song which had been specially written for the occasion, ‘Unsung Hero’.