Bangkok, December, 19th, 2017 (GC). The Thai Bishop George Yod Phimphisan, died last Friday in Bangkok. He was a man of communication and the media. In the 1980s and 1990s, he had close and warm contacts with OCIC and Unda, and later SIGNIS. He worked with them together in the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (1999-2009), not only on the national level but also at the continental level as the chairman of the Federation of Asian Bishops´ Conferences´ Office of Social Communications bishops.
Twenty years ago, in 1997, Bishop Phimphisan, as chairman of the Thai bishops´ Catholic Social Communications Commission was present at the 17th annual Catholic Media Awards of Thailand for promoting traditional Thai and moral values. In his opening speech he pointed out that in the world of money which dominate the media, it is precisely not money which is everything in life, but being and enjoying one’s family. So, he urged the media world and the communicators to stand up for what is good and wholesome in society to be passed on and preserved for the children.
The awards which were selected that year had proven to him and to society that entertaining didn’t necessary means on “sordid happenings that degrade society”. Some of the media (TV) and advertisements awards were about prevention of corruption, energy conservation, environmental protection, food and drug awareness and the fight against drug abuse. For him, these were themes which were important not only to help educate children but to improve the quality of life. In fact, these themes are twenty years later more than ever values to strive for. It was also an encouragement to the Thai media world to produce quality advertising and television and radio programs.
Born in Bangkok on Jan. 19, 1933, Mgr Phimphisan was the first Thai to join the Redemptorists. The Redemptorist came in 1948 to Thailand where they have taken on ministries with slum-dwellers, leprosy patients, orphans, and hilltribe people, run schools and parishes, and developed a diocese. Choosing this congregation ten years later in 1958, says a lot about the personality of Mgr Phimphisan. He was at one of the poorest places of the country where he became the first Thai Bishop of northeastern Udon Thani Diocese in 1975. Later he became chairman and a member of numerous committees in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand and Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (Fabc). As the chairman of the Fabc's Office of Social Communications before his retirement, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He was also an active member of Global Board of Directors of the International Bible Society. He was also open to other religions and to inter-religious dialogue In the 1990s, he and Chainarong Montienvichenchai, president of Unda and Unda Thailand, introduced on radio and TV programmes with representatives of the two other main religions in the country – Buddhism and Islam. Under his ministry, catholic media awards were given also to Buddhist TV producers. Mgr Phimphisan retired in 2009.