Dear Parishioners of St. Mary Church,
I am Fr. Benedict Pradit Wonganant—or you can call me Father Ben. I was ordained to the priesthood on May 18, 2013. I was born into a large Catholic family, in a Catholic village in the northeast of Thailand. I have two older brothers, two older sisters, and four younger sisters. I am the middle child. All my brothers and sisters are now married. My Dad passed away 15 years ago.
The life of the village, as well as that of my family, was always church-centered. We not only went to Mass on Sundays, but we would be in church almost every morning and most evenings. Our parish school was staffed by Sisters who were very attentive to our learning and faith, and they encouraged us to think about becoming priests.
The desire to be a priest came to me very early, and at the age of twelve my family sent me to study in the city of Ubon, which is about sixty miles from our village. My next step was to move near Bangkok (the capital city), which is many hundreds of miles from my home, to study more as there was much for me to learn. I had to work very hard to make a living and worked in the fruit and vegetable market where I gained a lot of experience meeting many different people.
The desire to be a priest stayed with me all the time. When I was asked by a priest friend if I would like to become a priest in the Diocese of Oakland, I felt that God was answering my prayers.
I studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. It was a happy and enjoyable experience that gave me the knowledge and the grace that would help me to do what I believe God desires of me. I love meeting people and find that people here in the United States are not unlike the people at home and people elsewhere.
I am happy and proud to be here at St. Mary Church to work with all of you and assist Fr. Fred. Being new to this parish, I ask each and every one you to please pray for me as I find my feet. I promise with the help of God’s grace to do my best to serve you all well. I will remember every one of you in my Mass intentions.
Again, please keep me in your prayers, so that I may always do God’s will.
God bless you,