Fifteen years ago, on the morning of the 16th August 2003, Father Ray Brennan, founder of several social projects here in Pattaya, took his last breath.
For the previous twenty nine years he had lived in Pattaya and during that time he had opened residential homes for children who were orphaned, neglected and abandoned. He gave a home to runaways, street kids and children who were from poverty.
Not only did he provide a safe place to live for children, but he also opened several schools; a pre-school for deaf toddlers, another for school age blind and visually impaired children, and a vocational training center for young adults living with a disability.
Fifteen years ago not many people thought the work he started would continue after his death. Two years, maybe three at the most, that is how long people thought the Farther Ray Foundation would survive without him.
Today, a decade and a half after he died, the Father Ray Foundation is continuing his work. The projects that Father Ray started are still open, and the Foundation has opened several new projects, including the Father Ray Day Care Center, Father Ray Children’s Village, Father Ray School for Children with Special Needs, as well as a Drop-In Center and a Technological College in the city of Nong Khai.
Of all those living at the Children’s Home only a few older residents remember him. None of the residents from the Children’s Village were born when Father Ray died, but everyone knows Father Ray. Each location where the children live or the students with disabilities study there is a life size statue of him, where many of the children wai before leaving for school. Before each meal the children say a prayer, and they say a special thanks to Father Ray.
At six o’clock on the morning of the anniversary of his death, and again thirteen hours later the children and students of the Father Ray Foundation gathered to remember Father Ray.
As the sun was rising they gathered to present alms to nine Buddhist monks from a nearby temple, making merit for Father Ray.
That evening they attended a Memorial Mass for him at St. Nikolaus Church, the church where he was once parish priest and where he is buried.
As the Mass came to an end, and once the final note of the final hymn was sung, the priests led a procession to Father Ray’s final resting place. As each person, young and old, stood in front of the grave they laid down a single red rose. While Thais placed their hands together and performed a wai, others bowed their heads and paid respect to Father Ray, the man whose work changed the lives of thousands and whose legacy continues here in Pattaya.