T H E M A R I A N O R A T O R I E S
The Oratories where started in Rome in 1551 by St. Filippo Neri
(1515-1595). (Oratorio was the place here Filippo and his companions
gathered to pray). The purpose of any oratory should be to educate
the children and to prevent them from physical and spiritual dangers.
During 1700-1900 there were many wars that destroyed the
nature, monuments, persons and especially the spiritual life.
All these devilish events happened in Italy too and especially on
June 1st, 1796 in Verona, where Napoleon of France and the emperor of
Austria fought each other and therefore most of the men were forced to be in
the army. The women had to work and the children were all day idle
in the streets .Because of these emergencies , more than 10 new
congregations started in Verona to care and assist poor families, the
sick, the deserted ,the lonesome, the wounded soldiers ,the
persons in jail and women and the children.
Gaspar Bertoni (1777-1853) was ordained as a priest at the age of
23. Even though he was so young , he was chosen as spiritual director by the
founders of many congregations.
On June 20th, 1802 his parish priest offerred him to become the
missionary of the children so he started the Marian Oratories with the
aim of teaching them and preserve them from the many vices and
dangers of the French revolution.
On April 26th,1789 when Gaspar was 12 years old, he joined to the Marian
Congregation and he imbued himself of the spirit and devotion to the
Virgin Mary Immacolate (even if at that time it was not a dogma) which
after he transmitted to his oratories.
Gaspar started the first oratorio in a poor shed and with just 7
boys, whom in a very short time reached 400 boys.
Some priests and lay persons joined Fr. Bertoni and in a few years
they could open a school, organize sport competitions
and a very resounding band with others cities.
Mothers, priests, The Bishop, civil authorities, were proud of that center
that in few years spread to many other cities .
Bertoni transmitted this spirit to his congregation which he
started on November 4th1816. In all stigmatines communities in Italy for
many years, we had the Marian Oratories which after a few years later,
St. John Bosco spread all over the world.
When our priest came to Thailand on August 21th,1952, they started
their activities in Phuket, Ranong and Trang, following the examples of
Fr. Bertoni with churches, schools, and some sport activities
with the youths. But we have two centers that we can call youth
centers in Bertoni’s syle. It is Phakom in Trang and Pha Maprao in
Phuket. We went to the village of Phakom in 1975 because of a very
devastating flood. After the emergency we opened a center where all
the children of the village could come for recreation and improving
their poor knowledge.
After a few years many of them wanted to be catholic.
The same happened for the village of Pha Maprao.
We went there after the tsunami on December 26th,2004.
There, we assisted the poor families for many years and on August
23th,2008 we could open the Bertoni House where the children can come
every day for recreation, learning English, using computers, and to be
The Oratories can be called in many different ways ,
but the aim of all these groups is to gather the children and to teach
them to respect each other and to become responsible adults.
Because of this social center in Phakom, the King of Thailand, gave a special award to Fr.John Ceresatto, at that time the superior of
the community in Trang.
On March 4th,2008 the President of Italy bestowed a medal of honor “The
Knight of Oneness” to Fr. Ferdinando Ronconi for the contribution to
the social welfare.
The Oratories should not only be centers for recreation but
principally for human and spiritual formation, in fact from the
oratories of St.Gaspar, 23 youths became priests and missionaries in
order to educate many other children in the world.