Pornchai Moontri: The Duty of a Knight – To Dream the Impossible Dream

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post written by Pornchai Moontri.

Pornchai Moontri was received into the Catholic Church on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2010. This is the long awaited next chapter in “Pornchai’s Story.”

I can always tell when there’s something up, when the mind of my friend has been churning. All the signs were there. I was up on my top bunk doing homework for a course in Accounting. Father G leaned against the concrete wall of this prison cell. He folded his arms, and waited for me to put down my pencil to ask what’s up.

When other prisoners came to the cell door , like they do all day long, he held up a finger and looked all serious, the signal to come back in five minutes. It was  funny watching them slink away as if  they just interrupted the State of-the Union Address or something.

Whenever Father G. has a new idea, it always makes me squirm a little because it usually means  my mind and spirit are about to be stretched again. “How would you like to write a guest post for These Stone Walls?” he asked. Since English is not my first language, writing is very difficult for me. At first, I was excited about this idea. Then I was given a deadline, and I got nervous. Then nervous turned into dread, and now I just feel very intimidated by the whole thing.

Once I saw an episode of “Family Guy,” a cartoon TV show. Peter, Chris’s dad, went back to school. During a math test, all the students reached into their desks to take out calculators, but Peter pulled out an Asian kid and poked him with his pencil saying, “Do math! Do math!” I thought it was pretty funny, and sometimes Father G. pokes me with a pencil when I’m doing math homework and says, “Do math!” Everyone laughs, especially me. He says he wishes he had my ability in math.  He says he’s still trying to figure out how the calculator makers get all those answers into those little tiny batteries. I wish I could trade a little math skill for a little writing skill right now. G said not to worry, to just write whatever comes to my mind and he will put in some commas and fix my spelling. He also told me to write about me and not him, but it isn’t a true story if I leave him out. So here goes.

A PRISONER AT THE TRUE EXODUS

Please understand that there are no titles in prison so I know Father G as just G. We were friends for a long while before I found out he is a Catholic priest. I was not surprised at all. We were friends for four years when I became a Catholic.  Like I wrote in “Pornchai’s Story,” G never asked me to become  a Catholic. He never even mentioned it. It is the path he is on and I was pulled to it by grace like a meteor is pulled by gravity. It was not sudden. It was slow, like the Uncle Screwtape quote in G’s article, “Accommodations in the Garden of Good and Evil.” It was just in the opposite direction from what Uncle Screwtape described. It happened when the nightmare I was living was slowly changed into a dream.

It was just as G wrote about in “The Gravity of Grace: When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” I know today that my life was never what I once thought it was. It was never just a series of accidents and bad events driving me ever deeper to the despair I wrote about in “Pornchai’s Story.” Instead, I was led down a path to hope because I took the risk of finally trusting someone.

I used to really struggle with whether I dared to believe in God, or to even have faith and hope. These are risky for those of us who have known despair. Today, faith sometimes still feels like a dream, but like I wrote in “Pornchai’s story,” something that I read in Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth, had a great impact on me:

“Among all the paths of history, the path to God is the true direction that we must seek and find.”  (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 4)

I didn’t read that whole book, of course. I tried to, but I’m not afraid to say the Holy Father’s wisdom is beyond my understanding. G was reading it one night, and as he sometimes does when I’m watching my favorite TV show, he handed the book up to me during a commercial with that line highlighted. I read it just to humor him, but I knew right away that what I read is the truth, and I did not forget it. A few nights later, he did it again. I was in the middle of watching a TV show when he handed up the book with this highlighted on the page:

“Purification of heart comes as a consequence of following Christ, of becoming one with him. ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.’ (Galatians 2:20).”  (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 95).

That was also the truth, and it was then that I knew my own heart was being purified for some greater purpose I can so far only dream about. I’m glad Pope Benedict wrote that book. When he became Pope in April, 2005, I did not even know about it and never dreamed that it would matter to me some day. I was in a maximum security cell in a prison in another state. In an article published in  Solitary Watch, I described my life in solitary confinement in  a “Supermax”  prison.

THE ROAD TO PERDITION

I was a teenager when I went to prison.  Over the years, I was sent back to solitary confinement over and over, for up to three-and-a-half years at a time, because I was so hostile.  The longer I was there each time, the more inhuman I felt and became. Living for years on end in solitary confinement joined  with the guilt I felt for the life I took during a struggle when I was 18 years old. So I just gave up on myself as a human being. I sank to the very bottom of the prison I was in, and stayed there.

Then in the spring of 2005, after almost 14 years in and out of solitary confinement, I was told that I was to be shipped to another prison in another state. I sat for 10 months alone in my cell wondering about whatever hell was coming next, and I told myself I didn’t care what comes next. Then one day, guards in riot gear came and chained me up. They put me in a van, and drove off. I thought I was on my way to Boston, to be put on a chartered plane to take me to some prison in the lowest reaches of hell in a place I would never be heard from again. So I was surprised when we exited off the highway after a few hours and stopped at a building with a big blue sign, the New Hampshire State Prison. Then I was quickly taken to that old, familiar place, solitary confinement.

When G was writing last month about Skooter and Donald and me in “Bitter Herbs before the Exodus,” he came in from the Prison Library where he works one day and showed me a quote he found in the book, Dante’s Inferno. I heard of this book it but I never read it. I thought Dante knew of my past when he wrote this great quote that G used:

“Midway on our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself in a dark wood. How shall I say what wood that was? I never saw so drear, so rank, so arduous a wilderness! Its very memory gives a shape to fear! Death could scarcely be more bitter than that place! But since it came to good, I will recount all that I found revealed there by God’s grace.” (“The Dark Wood of Error,” The Inferno, Dante Aligheri).

I thought, “Who is this guy, Dante, and why has he been following me around? This one little quote  seems to be the next chapter in my story. I was emerging from a dark wood. It was early 2006, six years  ago, when I emerged from this new prison’s segregation unit. By that point, I had lost most of my teens, all of my twenties, and was well into my thirties when I met G.  I had spent so much time in Dante’s Dark Wood of Error that I did not know any way out, and I pretended that I didn’t care.

I remember my very first conversation with G. My young Indonesian friend, JJ, introduced me to him in the prison chow hall one day.  JJ thought G could help me.  I was real hostile, and told G I just wanted him to help me get transferred to a prison in Bangkok, Thailand. “Be careful what you ask for,” he said. “I won’t help you pursue something that will only further destroy you.” I didn’t care, so why on Earth should he care?

Angry Prisoner

I was hostile to G for a long time.  I had mastered the art of driving anyone who cared away from me, but in G I met my match.  Over time I was able to see that under my anger was a lot of hurt and pain, and G saw it and helped me to see it too.  Over the next few years, G and I discussed a lot about the life of Saint Maximilian Kolbe and about Saint Padre Pio. I drifted like an iceberg that was ever so slowly melting, and before I realized it, I was caught up in what happened to Saint Maximilian. I never had a hero, and he became one. I suddenly felt as though I was no longer just adrift at sea; the ice was all gone. Four years after my arrival in this new prison, on the day before Divine Mercy Sunday in  2010, G and I walked to the Prison Chapel where Fr. Anthony Kuzia, a  nearby priest, Baptized and Confirmed me.

The next morning, Divine Mercy Sunday, I received my First Eucharist. I stepped that day out of the Dark Wood of Error into the light of day – the light of Christ. If anyone had told me of this just five years earlier, I would have thought them insane.  Every demon that once controlled my life was expelled, and I was free.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

In two or three years from now, after 23 years in prison, I might be able to petition for some commutation of the second half of my sentence. If the commutation petition is successful on the first or second try, then another nightmare becomes real. On the day I leave this prison, I will be brought to another prison to await deportation to where my life story began: Thailand.

After being taken from Thailand against my will at age 11, I will be forced to go back there at age 41, with most of the years in between spent in prison. I do not know how I will live or support myself, and I fear being stranded there. G and others have tried to find connections for me in Thailand, but G is in prison too. Every time something promising has surfaced and our hopes have risen, it just drifts into silence again. We had some contact awhile back with someone in the Thai Government, and with someone in the Catholic Church in Thailand, but it is a long time since they have responded to anything.

Now I am being asked to tell of my dreams, but do I dare to have dreams? The next chapter feels dark and empty, and trust is, like  G has written, “a precious commodity in prison easily lost, and not very easily replaced.” In February, my Godfather, Pierre Matthews, whose childhood meeting with Padre Pio G wrote about just two weeks ago, sent me a letter with some questions. He wanted me to describe what my dreams are. He wrote that it is important that I put them into words, and he is right.

Five years ago, I didn’t have any dreams. I didn’t have any future either. I had only a past. Having dreams means risking some trust and hope that they might come true. Today, building on the trust that Divine Mercy began in me is my only hope. It’s also the best I can do right now.

But, Godfather, I do have dreams. I dream of having an opportunity to reach those who are lost like I was, and broken, and brokenhearted, and lead them to Christ. I dream that I will be able to help young people who have had all trust broken and taken away from them.  I dream that I will be able to live my life in freedom and in service to others. I dream that I will have the chance to honor someone who sought only my good despite his own captivity. I dream that I will live this life as a Catholic. I dream that I will be led to where I am supposed to go and that I will not be all alone when I get there. What used to be just a nightmare is now my dream.

The people who reach into this prison through These Stone Walls have shown me a side of life in this world that before I met G I never knew existed. They have shown me what it means to be true believers. Someone sent me a prayer by Blessed John Henry Newman. It says God will send us “a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.” Father G says that trust in Divine Mercy means that somewhere in this world is a link in a chain for me, a bond of connection between me and Thailand so I am not sent alone into oblivion.  I want with all my heart to trust in such grace.

Father G says that person is out there, and he and I now ask your help to find that link in a chain by sending my story everywhere you can. He says it is time to wake up the Catholic on-line world with a project. So please help me find some ties in Thailand. It’s not as funny as it sounds!

I have taken the Christian name, Maximilian, in honor of the great saint who gave his life in service to his neighbor in the horror of prison at Auschwitz. As Knights in Saint Maximilian’s Knights at the Foot of the Cross, Father G and I both sacrifice the dreams of today for a greater good. But we need your help with the dreams of tomorrow.

Don Quixote, the Man of LaMancha, says I must have dreams, even impossible dreams. He says it is the duty of a Knight to dream. I must listen to him. We should all listen to him.

About Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

The late Cardinal Avery Dulles and The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus encouraged Father MacRae to write. Cardinal Dulles wrote in 2005: “Someday your story and that of your fellow sufferers will come to light and will be instrumental in a reform. Your writing, which is clear, eloquent, and spiritually sound will be a monument to your trials.” READ MORE

Comments

  1. Joe Corvino says:

    Hey Pornchai That was such an inspiring story. GOD will find you your link and we will do some research and try and help on this end.I will Pray for Guidence, Love You, Dad

  2. INM says:

    On Sunday 7th April 2013,I will specifically pray for Pornchai and for Fr.G that Christ’s Divine Mercy will direct your path in God’s holy will.May God hear our prayers and fight for you,not because we are righteous or of our integrity, but because the enemy we have is powerful, only God can fight the evil we face (Deut 9). Thank you, your labour is not in vain. Nairobi, Kenya

  3. Joseph says:

    I will keep both of you( Pornchai, Fr MacRae) in my thoughts and prayers.

    Joe

  4. RR says:

    What a wonderful story, which I reached through Dawn Eden’s blog on Patheos.

    The following quote struck me as a worthy description of the Holy Family itself, and indeed the Holy Trinity:

    God will send us “a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.”

    If we go back far enough, that link leads to Christ himself. In the words of the Holy Father:

    Ever since Paul’s time, history has furnished a constant flow of other such “translations” of Jesus’ way into historical figures. We priests can call to mind a great throng of holy priests who have gone before us and shown us the way: from Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch, from the great pastors Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory the Great, through to Ignatius of Loyola, Charles Borromeo, John Mary Vianney and the priest-martyrs of the 20th century, and finally Pope John Paul II, who gave us an example, through his activity and his suffering, of configuration to Christ as “gift and mystery”. The saints show us how renewal works and how we can place ourselves at its service. And they help us realize that God is not concerned so much with great numbers and with outward successes, but achieves his victories under the humble sign of the mustard seed.

    PBXVI Homily on Holy Thursday (5th April 2012)

    I offer thoughts and prayers for Pornchai, Fr MacRae and all who will be brought out of darkness by this extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit.

    Blessings heaped be upon you!

  5. Ann says:

    I can’t diminish in anyway what you have endured- the same is true of Father G-but I believe the hand of God is on you. I’m astounded again by the miracle of your life. You have opened my eyes to what we should all see–not only the sadness and injustices visited on the hurt and forgotten, but more importantly, the true miracle of faith. Many in our culture are in a spiritual prison, but I do not believe you are. If that is where your journey ends up, I will pray that Christ finds the right place for you in Thailand.

  6. chico says:

    my dear brother i have no words to describe how i feel at this moment that i´m reading this article but i know of first hand that you have change because god gave me the chance to know you there at the new hampshire state prison and you know your self that i always told you that you was more than a friend for me you and G help me like i never tought some one could help me,you are my brother and the love that jesus has put in my hart for you and gordon can´t be describe.god bless you my brother.att CHICO FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

  7. Marty G says:

    Dear Pornchai,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It has been a source of great encouragement for me, as I see that all things are possible when we follow Christ. Like the majority of the women who read your post, I was crying by the time I got to the end. To be quite honest, I find myself crying after most of Father Gordon’s posts, mostly, out of indignation and sorrow for the great injustice that has been perpetrated against him. I found TSW inadvertently, while searching for news about Fr. Corapi , (another great priest that has been tried and judged guilty for all to see, without all the facts, I might add). In the months that I have been reading Father’s posts, they have become a great source of hope, of consolation, and I have learned so much from his writings. I wonder how anyone, much less the Church hierarchy, has come to the conclusion that he is a priest not interested in the Church or the things of God. If you read any of his posts, they are filled with so much love for his priesthood, for the Church, for the Magisterium… How his own brother priests are not able to recognize his great humility, the way he has suffered quietly for so many years, enduring such great injustice, and yet despite all of this, he remains a priest, he is a light, for all to see. If only our Church was filled with priests, with such fidelity, we would not be in the scandal in which we find ourselves, that has all, but decimated the Church, and it’s moral standing in the public square.
    You make me proud to be a Catholic, you make me proud to know that our Glorious Catholic Church is composed of sinners, looking for redemption, and working to achieve our sainthood.
    I plan to write Father Gordon personally, to thank him for the great source of light he has become in my life. Please let him know he has a new friend, who will be writing to him by “snail mail” as he calls it. I did not intend for my comment to go on for ever so I will be closing now, not before telling you that I pray for Fr. Gordon every single day, and I have added both you, and Skooter with a K to that list. (Skooter’s story was also very moving, in Father’s last post. Please send him my kind regards, and assure him of my prayers for him).
    May our Savior, Jesus Christ fill you with His Holy Spirit, that you may proclaim His Truth from the roof tops, and may you continue to be a source of light for others. A final question to you, do you feel yourself being called to the priesthood? I have a feeling the Lord is calling you. Give my love and thanks to Father Gordon.
    Your sister in Christ our Savior,
    Marty

  8. jamil malik says:

    I have an idea: if everyone who reads this post sends a link to it to a Catholic news publication it may get some attention. Pornchai’s story is astonishing, but I fear that it is now linked to a priest the Catholic church would rather not hear from. Let’s help them both in this regard by continuing to spread this story.

  9. Rita Blaize-Watson says:

    This has been attributed to many people but I think Barbara Winter is the author of it.
    When you come to the edge of all the light you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown faith is knowing one of two things will happen; there will be something solid to stand on OR you will be taught how to fly. Barbara J Winter

    Pax Christi

  10. Antoinette says:

    Dear Pornchai,

    I have to tell you four things:

    1. You made me feel good because I don’t really understand the writings of the Holy Father either, even if I pretend to myself that I do!

    2. In my life I have learnt that the Cross has to be heavy by virtue of what it is. But if you forget for a while how heavy it is and focus from Whose shoulders it comes, then it can become a joy and an honour!

    3. When no.2 fails, ask Jesus to take your cross away for a while and to give it back once you are rested. Without fail, He has done this for me. He is so gentle, He puts it back so gently, you don’t know it’s there again!

    4. I admire you.

    God bless you xxxx

  11. Tony says:

    There is another possibility that Pornchai and his friends should think about. Like all foreign born prisoners in U.S. prisons, I know that Pornchai has already been ordered to be deported upon release from prison. This one-size-fits-all policy is sad, but America is pushing for justice every place but in America and that’s the truth. However, there is no law that requires him to go to Thailand. He could go to any country that would have him, and from all that I have read he would be a great asset for any country. As Jamil wrote so wisely, there are 1.2 billion Catholics in this world. Let’s continue to spread this story far and wide. A happy future is out there waiting to be found.

  12. bernadette mck says:

    Thank you Pornchai for sharing your story with us all. When Fr Gordon told us that he would have a Guest Writer I guessed (!) it would be you and got up early to read it on that day. The more we learn about you the more impressed we are. God’s Providence did indeed bring you to Fr Gordon’s cell.

    Fr Byers comment that you will not have completely forgotten your mother tongue even if you think you have should give you confidence. I am sure he is right. It will be lying deep down somewhere and God willing when you need to use it once again it will resurface and surprise you.

    Special prayers for you today Pornchai on Divine Mercy Sunday.

  13. Sheila Ryan says:

    There have been very few times that I am left with so few words. I took my daughter to the play, The Man From La Mancha, and we bought the record on the way home. I think I wore that record out. She fell in love with it too and she was only ten years old.

    Maximillian, you have proved to all who read what you wrote that “Nothing is impossible with God.” I love you so much and am crying so much I can’t see. You have made me so happy and hopeful!

    God bless your sox off!
    Sheila

  14. M says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Pornchai. You are an inspiration.

  15. Lupe Gwiazdowski says:

    You are a very, very good writer. This was a most beautiful story for Divine Mercy weekend and it will be the subject of my rosary meditaion tonight. Pornchai, I will pray for you and send this around. Your faith’s light is alive in this article. Your dreams will come true. love&prayers, Lupe

  16. Sharon says:

    Hello Pornchai. I passed your story onto a few of my grown children and friends. One of my sons and two of my grandchildren have your sailboats in their homes…so the story has even more meaning for them. While I don’t have ties in Indonesia, I do have an idea that I will share with Charlene that perhaps holds some possibilities. I’ll be travelling to New Hampshire from May 3 to the 8th and will pass your prison each of those days with special prayer and greetings to you. You might not see me, but I will be there.

  17. Lynda Finneran says:

    Thank you very much for your inspirational witness, Pornchai. I will remember you and your dreams in my daily prayers. God bless you!

  18. After reading this, I could not be more proud of Pornchai Moontri about whom I have written at the link below. In the time that I have known him, he has without exception been a role model not only to those around him in that dungeon of a prison, but to all of us out here who are free. Pornchai has taught me how to value my freedom and my faith. This heartfelt and gut-wrenching account of one day having to walk into the unknown is something that would terrify any of us who ever had to face such a thing. We must stand by our brother Pornchai and see to it that he is prepared for that day when he returns to Thailand. There is much to be done. I agree with Jamil Malik, another great Christian I have come to admire, that we who are free must not drop the ball on this. Here is a link to my own article on Pornchai:
    http://araminthethicket.blogspot.com/2011/07/pornchai-moontri-at-narrow-gate_22.html

  19. Samantha says:

    My Dear Friend Pornchai,

    As you know, I have no ties to Thailand, I can’t bridge this missing link, but I so wish I could. But what I do have is an endless tie to you. The tie of friendship, of family, is bound strongly. I hope you know that you will never really be all alone. And seeing this outpour of support for you only brings hope that good things will come your way.

    With Love,
    Samantha

  20. Pierre Matthews says:

    Pornchai,
    I appreciate your taking the time to follow up on my suggestion
    to spell out your dreams.
    There are, indeed, no impossible dreams with God.
    What a beautiful destiny you have set out for yourself reaching
    out people, lonely, rejected in their misery, crying for help and
    a smile.
    Your time in prison and Gordon’s companionship have become
    an ideal training ground for your future.
    Padre Pio and Maximilian Kolbe will definetely support you,
    wherever the Holy Spirit leads you to.
    Be prepared for hard times, here and as a free man. Do not fear.
    Never give up praying.
    Charlene, your godmother, and I are most privileged to have been
    choosen by the Lord to cross your path and walk up the Sion
    with you.
    We are grateful to serve the Lord through you, Pornchai.
    Your godfather,
    Pierre

  21. Liz F. says:

    Charlene. Suzanne and anyone else who helps Father Gordon and Pornchai, thank you SO MUCH. We really appreciate it. We wouldn’t know them if it weren’t for you.

    Is there a legal defense fund for Pornchai?

  22. Ingrid Merchant says:

    The story of your prison years touched me deeply. To have come through such a darkness is a miracle of grace, we know! I loved reading your Godmother Charlene’s words “Heaven rejoices!” and all of us rejoice also. I will remember you in prayer and share your story with others. God bless you and keep you in the palm of His hand.

  23. Mary Jean Scudieri says:

    Dear Pornchai,
    God would not bring you this far and just leave you hanging.
    Believe that He has a plan for you just as He has a plan for Father Gordon. That is the beauty of our faith ….all is possible with God.
    You thought your conversion was impossible and here you are,a dear brother in faith! You also don’t have to just rely on your prayers for many are joined with yours especially on this coming Divine mercy Sunday which is so special for you and has been special to me for over 12 years now.I am drawn to it by way of the Novena each year.Pray to our beloved John Paul to intercede for you.It is his special day as well.
    God love and bless you, Fr.Gordon and Donald and Scooter.
    Here is a prayer given to me by a great priest friend for times of doubt or despair:
    My Jesus I trust in you and I know that you will take care of me
    Say it three times.It is simple but oh so powerful!
    (don’t you think that the Holy Spirit had some part in Fr. asking you to do this guest post? I do!!!!)
    Your friend in Jesus, Jeannie

  24. Adoro says:

    Dear Pornchai,

    You are in my prayers. Such a trite thing to say, but it is sincere. I wish I could help.

    I do know what it’s like to give up on yourself as a human being…although not to the degree you’ve experienced such a thing. God is so good to have brought you to us all!

    Although I wish I could give solid help, all I have is prayers and you shall have them. I have already sent my Angel to St. Padre Pio and St. Maximillian Kolbe, and I know they will look out for you no matter what happens. Trust in God; He will bring you to fulfillment in Him.

  25. Domingo says:

    Maximillian/Pornchai, my brother!

    Add me to the list of those who pray for you. I hope to remember your intentions in my visit with the Lord.

    You’ll find the chain. Trust in the LORD! Bernadette and Father George have promising leads. I think your suffering in the dark woods was meant to be to prepare you for something the LORD has for you. Just open your heart to His grace. And respond generously.

  26. Charlene C. Duline says:

    Pornchai is truly a knight, a gentleman, and more! He would “be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.” No more is he the hell-bent youth with nothing to lose, complacent to spend his days and years in solitary confinement nursing his anger. His life has purpose and meaning. He now teaches other young men how to channel their anger, how to stay out of trouble, and challenges them to challenge themselves. And he is the perfect role model (speaking as his proud Godmother!).

    Pornchai already had a generous heart, but seeing Fr. Gordon giving what little he has to others, has made Pornchai do the same. He will give his last dime to one who needs it more. What faith. What courage. Pornchai has already marched into hell and out, and for all of the “unrightable wrongs” he has suffered, “scorned and covered with scars,” he faces the next hurdle in life knowing that he is not alone. He has a host of people praying for him, and with God at his side, he will never again be alone. Heaven rejoices!

  27. Barbara Maclellan says:

    Dear Pornchai,
    What a wonderful testimony! May God bless you abundantly.I am from Cape Breton and I will keep you and Father G in my prayers.
    Tell Father we returned from our long trip to Florida and hope you both pray for our family also. I will remember you both at Adoration as well. Barbara Maclellan

  28. Frank Dias says:

    WHAT A GREAT STORY. MR. PORCHAI, ONE THING TO
    REMEMBER WHEN YOU RECEIVED THE BLESSED SACRAMENTS, OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WIPED YOUR
    SLATE CLEAN, PLEASE ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT. YOUR
    SINS ARE FORGIVEN COMPLETLY.. FR. G.DID A GOOD
    JOB. WHEN YOU WALK OUT THOSE DOORS, YOUR LIFE
    STARTS ANEW. EVERY ONE WILL LOVE YOU BECAUSE
    YOU WILL HAVE GOD,S GRACE AND PEOPLE OF GOD WILL
    KNOW YOU. IF YOU NEED MONEY IN THAILAND PLEASE
    ASK. I KNOW WE CAN HELP, EV ERY ONE ON THIS POST.
    KEEP PRAYING FOR YOU AND FR. GORDON.
    FRANK D.
    USMC VIETNAM VET

  29. My dear, welcome to the Church, I invite you to come into my little world and allow me to pray for you. I sense that even though you have so many questions and fears about your future, the Lord will deliver you from the worst things. He will surprise you as He works your problems out so that you can use your talents and gifts to share His love with others. Remember to pray every day to The Blessed Mother under that title of ‘Undoer of Knots’. She will undo these seemingly impossible knots! Trust in that! With much love from a wife and mom…

  30. Liz F. says:

    Pornchai, what a beautiful post you have written! For someone whose first language is not English you sure found a way to express yourself in a very moving and wonderful manner. I think you write well!
    It seems so heart-breaking not to have had a hero growing up, but it also seems so magnificent to have St. Maximilian Kolbe as one of your firsts! If we could all start out with the saints as our heroes what a world this would be!
    As I read about your godfather and your dreams I was reduced to tears. You have such wonderful ambitions. It does make me pause and wonder at them. I mean that God was with you through all of your painful past and that only He could make something so beautiful out of it. You would not have those particular dreams without the pain of your past.
    You are such a blessing to so many people, Pornchai. You definitely are to our family.
    We hope and pray that you find that “link in chain.” I know that God has something very special in mind for you.
    ps Please give my regards to Fr. Gordon. It’s fun to say that to you instead of the other way around for a change! God bless you both!

  31. Suzanne formanek says:

    Dear Pornchai: Thank you so much for this post and for your testimony. I wish I could say that I know someone in Thailand that will help but I don’t. I do know that the Lord who is OUR Lord, will help you as you’ve helped us who have read and heard from Father G about your story and feel amazingly connected to you. Prison of one sort or another is an experience that many of us share . The bars on yours are different from mine for sure but still both manage to keep us in bondage. Only the Lord can really set us free and when he does out of his immense love for us he has great intentions. I escaped my prison 30 years ago and I’m living out his intentions as best I can out of the love I have for Him. I have no doubt that he will arrange the sequence of your release and that His intentions for your life will become clearer as the days unfold. We are his works in progress. I’ll look forward to seeing you one day, likely not this side of heaven. In meantime, keep us posted. We are well connected friends of yours from all over the world, thanks to Father G’s imprisonment.
    Blessings, Suzanne Formanek

  32. Bernadette says:

    Thank you for this wonderful rendition of your coming from such a dark past to the light of faith. My son is married to a Thai girl, and has a Canadian friend now living in Thailand.His friend is not a Catholic, but his Thai step children go to a Catholic boarding school. Perhaps he could be that link that you need. I will e-mail him, telling him to read all about you, and see if , perhaps, he could be of help. I have met this man and found him to be kind and gentle. I will keep you in my prayers and hope that God will open doors for you. Perhaps God has plans for you to go to Thailand to convert the Thai people.We see a lot of the Thai girls married to Canadians in our community and they are so sweet and polite.

  33. Jeannie says:

    Pornchai, I very much doubt that Father ‘G’ hasn’t already told you, gently, that just that desire to do well is such a sign of grace. I was reading a book about Padre Pio today, “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry.” Don’t worry. Huh.

    We all have fears and that is true if in prison or not.

    Today on the radio I heard about a priest who was in Asia in solitary confinement, non-stop, for 20+ years. The hope he gave people, by coming out of it with greater faith and evidently having been able to not be alone while virtually alone, did untold good.

    We do not know where our paths take us and only with continued prayer do we get it through our thick skulls that when we are worrying God is not sending any grace to help us fight the worry. God says not to worry because at the moments that we really need it, when we call on Him sincerely and with faith (not perfect faith!!) THEN grace comes and we are not the same person in the same place as back when we worried.

    Does that make sense?

    Your path of conversion is sooooo unique and seemingly unlikely that the humility that you have, at God’s enormous mercy, also has to be paired with an awe.

    We are the strangest creatures. We are not as holy as angels or as capable or as smart. We are so limited that trying to understand God, in OUR brains, is like trying to cup the ocean into a small hole on the beach. But infinite God chose His Son to live in the same form. Incredible. He would never have done that if He had not believed that even in our limited ability He could use us for mighty things.

    With a grain of sand in our hands we just see a scratchy little thing that needs to be washed off as an annoyance.

    We are the grains of sand in God’s hand and every single one has infinite worth to Him and has an infinite ability for His use.

    Keep believing and dreaming and remember God said to have the faith of a little child. If you have a chance to watch Pope Benedict or see films about Mother Theresa or John Paul II or Mother Angelica remember please that all of these people were apparently smart, super connected and had done amazing things and yet, when asked to speak of their faith, there is always this childlike trust in how they explain it, a simple certainty like a child on the faces of these amazing people.

    All they did was dream and believe and realize that their dreams were most often so much smaller than what God had in store for them.

    In God’s eyes you are as infinitely precious and of use as each of them. You were born in this time to shine and show people God. Every person you touch God wanted you to because your story and your heart would touch them most.

    God bless you, blessed Pornchai.

    With great love (and sending your story everywhere I can!),
    Jeannie

  34. Esther says:

    Dear Pornchai:
    What a beautifully written post! Don’t tell Father but I usually read his posts later in the week ;-) (JK dear Father G!) But as soon as I saw you were the guest blogger, I couldn’t wait to read it!! BTW, can’t wait to show my husband and son the video clip. LOL! Seriously, though, I will share your prayer request with as many people as I can and I know with our prayers, God will answer you. I guess, I don’t have to remind you: “Jesus, I trust in you!” I am praying for you. As a mother of a son, your story touched me deeply. I wish you could have been spared all that pain, anguish and suffering. Yet, I know your sufferings have not been wasted.
    God bless you dear Pornchai!
    With much aloha for you, Father, and the others,
    Esther
    PS: My math prof husband has offered you any math books you want or need, just let us know which ones you’d like (and from me…any Catholic book you may want).

  35. Hello, Pornchair aka Maximillian, your story has brought tears to my eyes. My heart already breaks for Father MacCrae, we can call him Father out here. Father Gordon is an inspiration to me just as Father Corapi has been. Ask “G” about Father Corapi in case you don’t already know. I will share your story with others I know online in the facebook world of Catholics and Christians that I contribute to sometimes way more than other times. But your story is quite compelling and I have no doubt God is using you and Father G in ways that many of us could never understand. In a more spiritual realm, that few are privy to because of our own limitations. I will keep you and Father G in my prayers. God bless you my good and precious brother. +++ clarita. +++

  36. Claire says:

    I will pray that you find the link you need to complete your life in God. May He be with you, always.

  37. Judy Stefencavage says:

    what a beautiful conversion you have had Pornchai! God has Big plans for you!! Continue to challenge yourself and your faith in God and He will reward you with …what no man hath seen nor heard nor can imagine.
    After you leave that dark place of a prison, which by the way is only a physical one, your heart and soul a prison are not! you will soar on the wings of Christ. His light will lead you and I am excited to see where that will lead you.
    May God smile on you and continue to bless you. Remain close to Mary; her Son will never refuse her.!

  38. jamil malik says:

    The hard truth for all of us who read this is very simple: Neither Father MacRae nor Pornchai Moontri should have to cope with years upon years in prison and also worry about this inevitable future. We all have some work to do. There are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world. So we need to step up and be the links in a chain Pornchai needs right now. Let’s all please spread this story far and wide and find help for this courageous man. America has never given Pornchai a home. It has given him only a prison. We who are free must help fix this. Let’s not let this opportunity go by.

  39. Hello Pornchai!

    Sorry for the long comment. Please God, by the time I send in this comment, a few others will have already chimed in and found a solution for you in Thailand. In that case, there is no need to read this.

    After putting up an article on my blog asking people to rack their brains to come up with a solution for you, I googled the Archdiocese of Bangkok to get the link to put up here on TheseStoneWalls. I’m hoping that perhaps a few readers might know a bit of Thai and can do something with the zillion links on that Archdiocesan website, which is written entirely in Thai. I don’t know how well google-translate works for this. Perhaps others are bit more techy than me, as I’m getting error pages…

    Anyway, after that, I thought that perhaps you could be of some help in some way at Lux Mundi, the Major Seminary. I understand they are still in a bit of a fledgling state. But that fledglingness works for you.

    If you were working at the seminary in any fashion, perhaps you might also be able to teach a math course to the seminarians, which would be prerequisite to a required accounting course that you would also teach, it being that you are so good with math, and it being that accounting skills for priests are always very much needed. I don’t know if they already have such courses available, but I doubt it. Perhaps someone can find their catalog on-line. I’ve only heard of one seminary that does this, though others would very much like to do this. It makes them look good and helps these future priests. Perhaps you could also teach some beginning English to the seminarians who do not know English at all. These would be “selling points” for you to get a job of any kind at the seminary, where they might be able to give you a place to sleep and eat along with a bit of spending money in exchange for this kind of arrangement.

    The seminarians might also be able to teach you a bit of Thai that you only think you’ve forgotten, but which is actually only under the surface, just waiting to come into the light. That’s how languages work, especially when you are young. You had eleven years of exposure to the language, the most important years. I’m just guessing that you are quite fluent in the language, but that you have a very understandable mental block with all this. But it is friendship that will cut through this and have you speaking and then reading and then writing in no time, with joy. They will gain much with this, for I think that you would share some of your story with Father Gordon with them, helping them to understand what priesthood is all about, and that would be very good for everyone. They would also gain much in knowing your story, that you are an “ex-con”. They will look forward to doing prison ministry. And that is a very good thing indeed.

    Now, I wasn’t happy in putting up this comment up to this point, and so I slept on it. You have to know, Pornchai, that I am always very impressed by those who have suffered greatly and have grown wonderfully. You have done both, thanks be to Mary’s Son, Jesus. I believe that, because of this, you have a great deal to offer to those who have also suffered, helping them to know our Lord Jesus, helping them to have some hope, some faith while on this earth. I think this would do them much good, and would be absolutely a dream come true for you as well.

    So, what I thought of, Pornchai, is that if you were around the seminary, perhaps they would allow you to sit in on a counseling course with the seminarians. This, with your background of suffering and conversion and new found friendship with Jesus, could well be put to use at what must be the many dozens of hostels and soup kitchens and orphanages, and so on, which are operated by the Archdiocese and by the very many religious congregations in the Archdiocese. Perhaps you could offer your accounting and English skills to these organizations. But that would be a side issue and perhaps only after some time. I think you would most of all enjoy working with those who frequent these institutions, volunteering at first, but then perhaps helping to run or eventually even direct these places, even founding more of them as needed. Always think big, Pornchai!

    Now, if the seminary thing doesn’t work out, perhaps you could volunteer at the hostels as a night-guard (which would give you a place to sleep and eat as well). And then you could work from there.

    O.K., just some thoughts for what they are worth. I hope there are others who have or will come up with something a bit more concrete, such as addresses and contacts for all these places, someone who knows how to work with google-translate and not get error messages like I do! We need names and addresses for you to have in hand when you get off the plane at the airport in Thailand.

    What’s important is that you have no fear to return to Thailand. Our Lord will take care of you. Just be a little child before Him, trusting in Him, no matter what. He will show you the Way. If He’s permitted you to walk the path of suffering, know that He has only done so to bring an unimaginable good out of it. There will be much rejoicing in heaven over the many souls I think you will bring with you there, forever, in great joy.

    Father George

  40. Sarah says:

    Dear friend Pornchai,
    Happy anniversary of becoming an adopted heir to the Kingdom!
    Thank you for writing this special entry today, and thanks to Fr. G for encouraging you to do so. Every post (and practically every comment too!) on TSW has touched me, but yours is the only one that has reduced me to a crumbling messy pile of tears.
    We rejoice at the transformation God has created in your life, your heart, your soul! You have been given great gifts, and you’re already using them in service to God and in your prison mission field. I’ll double my prayers that you will continue on the path of being a godly man, for your patience, perseverance, and trust in God’s will for you, and that doors and windows will blow open for your future. (“God’s perfect timing” is the tricky part for us, isn’t it?).
    Place all your cares, worries, hopes and endeavors under Mary’s mantle, for she is your powerful mother.
    Jesus we trust in You!

  41. Karin says:

    Hi Pornchai,
    Excellent post! Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. As I was reading your post, there is a Scripture verse that came to mind. Please forgive me, but I am paraphrasing it here; you can ask Fr. G. for the exact chapter and verse. The verse basically says: May God complete in you the good work He has begun…
    I believe He will and is doing this in you.
    The road ahead for you may look like those dark woods again. Trust me when I tell you that many of us have come from those woods and the devil is there standing at their entrance beckoning us back. However, there is Someone else standing there blocking the way to those dark woods, showing us a better Way. Your deep faith will help you to continue to follow Christ where He wants to lead you. The dreams you have written down, He has heard as prayers. Continue to pray the Divine Mercy prayer: Jesus, I trust in You. Your faith is evident in what you have shared here, and in the stories Fr. G. has told us about you in his posts. Hold on to that, and remember that you have a family here at TSW, and more importantly in the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church.
    Please know that my prayers, as I am sure the prayers of many will be with you.
    May God bless you and Our Lady keep you.

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