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Ray of Sunshine

Tom Vincent, SM ‘68, has published the story of a charismatic priest and his work with dispossessed and disabled children in Thailand.
August 1, 2005

In the Name of the Boss Upstairs:
The Father Ray Brennan Story
By Jerry Hopkins
Thomas J. Vincent Foundation
2004, $30.00 (cloth)

By the time Tom Vincent, SM ‘68, retired in 1988, he had traveled the world for numerous Fortune 500 companies. He’d seen endless airports, hotels, and boardrooms, but he’d rarely seen the countries he was in. Once free of corporate agendas, he began traveling for pleasure. One of his first stops was Thailand. In the years when he’d been there on business, he’d read about an American priest who ran an orphanage in Pattaya, a town on the Gulf of Thailand. Intrigued, he hired a car and paid the orphanage a visit.

Father Ray Brennan had been in Thailand for 27 years by then, and his orphanage had been home to hundreds of children. “We took a walk around the orphanage,” Vincent recalls. “The kids flocked to him. They stroked him. It was like a movie set.” He also discovered that there was more to Father Ray’s work than the orphanage that had gained worldwide media attention. There was a school for the physically disabled, another for the blind, and yet another for the deaf. Every child Father Ray’s work helped came from the margins of Thai society, children who were shunned even by their own families. Within three years, there would be a home for the street children of Pattaya, which is known for its sex trade and is particularly notorious for attracting pedophiles.

Each of Father Ray’s endeavors was the result of a seemingly random act. The orphanage was born when a Thai woman thrust her baby into his arms after Mass one day in 1971 or 1972. The baby’s father had deserted her, she said, and she had found a second husband who would have nothing to do with it. Father Ray accepted the child. Others soon followed, some the unwanted children of Thai bar girls and American servicemen. Father Ray had discovered his calling: with no sense of what lay ahead and no money, but with great faith, he dedicated himself to helping those children no one else would help.

Like many others who were impressed by the charismatic priest, Vincent became a benefactor, a frequent visitor to the orphanage. He also counted the ebullient Father Ray as a close friend. So in 2003, when Father Ray, on his deathbed, asked Vincent to publish a book collecting the newsletters sent to sponsors of the orphanage, Vincent could not refuse. He was not a writer and was also not convinced the newsletters would be interesting to others. But the life of Father Ray, he reasoned, would be. Vincent enlisted Jerry Hopkins, author of numerous biographies, whose subjects had included Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, and Yoko Ono, to write the book, using excerpts from the newsletters and thousands of personal letters to help tell the story.

The resulting book, In the Name of the Boss Upstairs, is the story of a man of great faith, huge appetites, and endless energy, who changed the lives of thousands of children and even the society that had rejected them.

Recent Books from the MIT Community

Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track:
The Letters of Richard P. Feynman
By Richard P. Feynman ‘39 and
Michelle Feynman
Basic Books, 2005, $26.00

Marina de Buenos Aires
By Ezequiel Szafir ‘97
Ediciones Espliego, 2004, 14.95 euros

Jerry Wiesner:
Scientist, Statesman, Humanist
Edited by Walter Rosenblith HM
MIT Press, 2004, $34.95

Non Equilibrium Thermodynamics
By Robert M. Kiehn ‘50, PhD ‘54
Lulu Press, 2004, $24.95

Discipline and Development:
Middle Classes and Prosperity in East Asia and Latin America
By Diane Davis, professor of
political sociology
Cambridge University Press, 2004, $80.00

We Were Young Then:
The Founding of the MIT Rugby Club
By Robert V. Garvin ‘50
The MIT Rugby Club, 2004, $15.95

When the Lions Come:
Surviving the Architectural Jungle
By Sherwood Stockwell ‘49
Xlibris, 2005, $31.99

We invite you to submit the names of books and papers published in 2004 and 2005 to
be considered for this column.

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