Obituary: Fr Patrick Morrissey, tireless worker for the disabled in Thailand

Fr Patrick Morrissey, Director of the Vocational School for disabled young people died in Pattaya, Thailand, on 1 January. He was 74. Fr Patrick Morrissey's career in Thailand spanned some forty years. His last placement was with the Redemptorist Centre, which he was assigned to in 1987.

The Centre is based at the Pattaya Orphanage in Pattaya, Thailand. There he served as pastor of St. Nikolaus parish for nine years, and more recently as guest master at the Centre complex and director of the Vocational School for the disabled. The Vocational School is a flagship for disabled rights and rehabilitation in Thailand, enabling students to live an independent life.

The school teaches computer studies, electronics and English to 200 students and is currently raising funds to double its capacity, particularly for disabled women. Since its foundation in 1984, more than 2000 previously unemployable graduates have found good jobs and a new independent life.

Fr Patrick was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA, on July 10, l929 and entered The Redemptorist minor seminary at Kirkwood, Missouri, at the age of 14. He was ordained a priest in l955. In l957, having completed his education for work in the Redemptorist apostolate, he was assigned to the Congregation,s foreign mission in Thailand. Fr Patrick began his missionary career in Northeastern Thailand.

Over the next forty plus years, he moved all over the country, from Khon Kaen in the Northeast, to Bangkok, Nongkhai, Phonsung and Ban Dung.

In l981 he was once more back in the community of Khon Kaen and entrusted with the apostolate for leprosy patients and their families. His work there was not limited to just that one village but also took in a church and school in Nonsombun, the site of the government leprosarium, and two other villages with large populations of Leprosy patients. During his 6 years as pastor of Khon Kaen, four programs were implemented, including a new nursery, a live-in facility for leprosy patients and a centre to care for severely handicapped children both on a live-in basis and out patient basis.

Fr Patrick was in the great tradition of Irish missionaries which began with St Columba. His devotion to God throughout his life, his devotion to Thailand and the Thai people over almost fifty years, and his work for leprosy patients and the disabled - in Redemptorist terms, the neediest - will ensure that he is remembered with respect and with love by the many hundreds of people who benefited from knowing him.

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