Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Bishop and I

More about Anna and my family today. If you've visited my Flickr page, you may have seen my baby picture. In it I am wearing a dress made by my sister Wipa. At that time she had been a Catholic novice for six years, and six years after that picture was taken she became Sister Emile.

It was because of my sister's involvement in the Catholic church that I ended up living in Bishop Lawrence Thienchai Samanchit's household my last two years of high school. Bishop Samanchit was the second Bishop of Chanthaburi, my province not having become a diocese in its own right until 1965. Unless you read Thai, the best way to learn more about the history of Catholics in Thailand is from Wikipedia.

In addition to attending school, each day I was required by the Bishop to do three things: attend 5:30 a.m. Latin mass, study French, and make chili sauce for the Bishop. (Only the 5:30 a.m. mass was in Latin, the other masses were held in Thai.)

Bishop Samanchit gave me the choice of studying Latin or French, so I chose French. To this day my French is not nearly as good as my chili sauce!

Chili sauce is quite simple to make. Chop up some prikki-nu hot chili peppers, add garlic, lime and fish sauce. If for some reason I was detained and unable to make the Bishop's chili sauce, word would always get back to me that he had noticed that the chili sauce was not Anna's! This sounds like an exaggeration but when I last saw the Bishop ten years ago his first words to me were to ask about my chili sauce. In Thailand we take our spicy condiments very seriously. And yes, Anna's special chili sauce for the Bishop is in our condiment tray at True Thai!

Bishop Samanchit retired this spring. I know of the new bishop, Silvio Siripong Charatsri, because I went to the school he graduated from. My cousin Peter Surin Prasomphol, now known as Monsignor Peter, is still active in the church. My sister was very active in her order until her death in 1997. Sister Emile was very beloved and over 3,000 people turned out for her funeral service.