FATHER THOMAS JOSEPH DUNLEAVY!
January 22nd 2013, Father Tom wrote:
"While I am here the refugees are helped but should I retire that may not be the case. A Thai Buddhist social worker, a wonderful worker and person, a Malaysian lady from a Muslim family but she is a Catholic speaks Bahasia for Indonesia & Malayans. Also I have a Philippine lay-missioner working with me.
Dear Friends! I do have difficulty with my eye-sight and a few other health problems. However Asians especially Thai people are very kind to older people. I have Sunday Mass in English at the Assumption Cathedral on Sundays. 70% of the people are Asians 30% foreigners.
My Friends ! remember us in your prayers."
February 20th 2013, Father Tom wrote:
"My dear Vietnamese Community in Canada, USA and around the world:
God has blessed me with reasonable good health for 83 years which I am very grateful for His blessing.
However I do have PATTERN DYSTROPHIES in the eyes which according to the doctors
I will gradually loose my sight. God Willing I will spend two more years in activate ministry. God has blessed me with all I need for my work in serving the poor. Maryknoll provid funds for ministry and my family provide personal items including travel. My brother paid my way home to the British Isles the last three years to visit the family.
A quebec lay-missioner, a Thai social worker and a Malaysian interpreter (Indonesian & Malaysian) work with me in all our projects which are prison ministry (4 prisons), Immigration Detention Center, Urban-Refugee Center (Food for asylum seekers, refugees, migrants without work, people without a country (Tamal from Sri Lanka & Ryhingas from Myanmar). These people include the Hill Tribes people from South Vietnam. They need protection, rent, food, water, travel expense to and from Embassies and the UN.
To balance our ministries we work with Hill Tribes children in Chung Tong, North Thailand. Also I have two personal projects. Education and formation for a group of brothers (The little Brothers of Saint Francis Xavier in Myanmar and a community of sisters (The Sisters of the Immaculate Conception) Thailand. Both communities are all Hill Tribes people.
Early May I will return to the USA (May 10th to July 18th 2013) for a week long meeting at Maryknoll and home-leave. I hope to return to mission renewed.
May I ask for your prayers for good health and energy to help others."
Thank you for your nice note it is appreciated. My journey of faith and mission is long and sometimes rocky. 1989 I entered Cambodia with the refugees and had a very successful ministry with the ethnic Vietnamese along the rivers.
After I was assigned to North Vietnam in 1992 the Maryknoll Fathers continued this ministry and it is still in operation. I have many wonderful memories of problems,people of good will, and happenings in North Vietnam. Later I was assigned to North Korea to monitor food distribution for the U N. After five months the North Korean government sent us home.
My dear friends , I am not completely free when I return to the USA. Our Maryknoll meeting is scheduled from May 20th to the 28th 2013. Second I have some health problems to take care of (Maryknoll insist) Then I do not have the energy to move around as I once could. Maryknoll funds my projects but they expect me to cover and preach in churches to raise funds for Maryknoll work. Last but not least I must spend at least one week or more with my family. After all they kept me in clothes, shoes and personal items for the past 40 years.
My dear friends in Canada, I don't know if I can go to Canada or have the energy to do so.
This is the best I can do. I have to think about my present day refugees?
Father Tom Dunleavy MM
In fact, we had known that during 1982 to 1989, when we were almost forgotten and ignored by the international community... there was some VNLRs had crossed the Thailand-Cambodia and entered inside Thai territory, those fellows was seeking alternative route with thought that they might get better attention, treatment or would have more opportunity to be resettled in the 3rd countries . A story that made head line, for instance, was "the journey of Mr. Ly Tong" a former pilot of SRVN air force. He was successfully crossed the borders through Thailand and further to Malaysia, ended up asylum at the US embassy in Singapore and later granted to resettle in the US ....He was originally from Nong Sa Met platform.
Many others, were unfortunately captured and detained at IDC (Immigration Detention Center) by MOI (Ministry of interior)...that where one of Fr. Tom's mission along with other NGO's included our friends JRS (Jesuit Refugee Services) deployed their helping hands in many ways... click this link for more Maryknoll and IDC in Bangkok Thailand
1989, shortly after the displaced Cambodians conventionally repatriated back to Cambodia under UN monitor and organization....Fr. Tom and Maryknoll expanded their missions inside Cambodia and to Vietnam as well. August of 1995 , the new model of mission was named
THE MARYKNOLL MEKONG MISSION.
As for many of us, while we are struggling with new challenges for daily living in new place we called stable home...Fr. Tom and his Maryknoll is continuously and restlessly extending his helping hands to others who is in need and in crisis , desperate situation...as same as for us many years ago.
We, once upon a time, said to ourselves not only a few times but many that, we would not forget , never, those plenty of hardship and suffering days during our en-route to the freedom, during the time we spent in the camps, every time we knew that we survived after the deadly shelling attacks from VC troops, the day we had been released from the cells when we first captured and lived through the ordeal , or got successful treatment for the illness (malaria, diarrhea, typhoid, scarlet fever, malnutrition....) that we thought we could die, we prayed every time....we hold our breath when thing struck on us without our control...we even told our children our story...with hope to keep our journey to the freedom unforgettable...and be memorized forever...and those stories are the engine, the strong catalysts, our être-raison to be here in the Freedom world....it is our unique identity : A Refugee....A Vietnamese Land Refugee...
Some of us even promised that that would shaved their head as a gesture of appreciation when they will be in safe heaven of freedom world, some even renewed their faith and vow to self "I will never forget these days"... and so on...these stories from each of us, very unique, in individual...but they are actually very common, and that makes up of our history! Whenever our story has been told , shared to our children, our loved ones, our new friends in new home, our colleagues at work place....they are all amazed and touched ...and so we are proud of ourselves!
Yet as we are trying hard for our daily living, for our children...and it is not easy...but at least we now have what we wanted and wished to have it...Freedom.
There are many people out there, or in Vietnam still faces with same problems, same issues.. desperation, crises...as for us before....
We can now say we are lucky and surviving...
As per Fr. Tom messages and it is our opportunity,our moral duty and our promise, a gesture toward our next generation not only to remind them but to show them how people helps people...we can lend our helping hands to others as he and others did for us in the past....Please help him to help us and others...Many people will thank you for your pledge to help!
Today it is not our turn to say "Thank you to Fr. Tom or any of our benefactors...but today is the day of our children's turn , let them say to our benefactors that " Thank you Father , thank you for helping my parents..." Is that simple?
Dear Fr. Tom, yet it takes us almost 3 decades to convey our deepest and overdue gratitude to you and to those who has ever extended their helping hands, open their doors and welcome us into their home... because you know, we are so busy and struggle with our daily living, with our new issues, but yet today we are coming and present to you our children, our future ...as a gift for your birthday!!! Happy Birthday Father Tom! and we look forward to see you soon in Newyork, USA!
May Our God always bless us all!