By Roy Hoffman, Press-Register Saturday May 12, 2012
Grand Bay, Alabama — At the Wat Buddharaksa here on Saturday morning, Buddhists began to gather from throughout the Southeast to mourn temple leader Chaiwat Moleechate, 45, who died Friday.
Moleechate was found beaten to death inside the temple, according to Mobile County Sheriff’s Office investigators. Vern Phdsamay, 32, a monk who lived at the temple, has been arrested and charged with murder, officials said.
At the Buddhist temple in Grand Bay where the Rev. Chaiwat Molechee was killed on Friday, fellow Buddhist monks gathered on Saturday from throughout the Southeast to receive prayers on behalf of the late monk. Buddhists from Jackson, Mississippi; Jacksonville, Florida; and New Orleans were among those who traveled to Grand Bay to honor the memory of the beloved monk. Press-Register/Roy Hoffman
“People are here to pay respects,” said Somprasong Songcharoen, a native of Bangkok who works as a plastic surgeon in Jackson, Mississippi, and helped fund the building of the temple.
With others from Jackson, Songcharoen mingled and visited with Buddhists from temples far and wide as cars pulled into the 5-acre religious site off a rural highway of cornfields, farmhouses, and small, Christian churches.
Among visitors were monks from Jackson; New Orleans; Jacksonville, Florida, and other cities, that had gathered to pray and receive offerings for the late monk.
Before the altar, with figures of the Buddha, a shrine was set up to Moleechate, with photos of the monk, a plate with apples, day lilies, and a candle.
The apples and other fruits, said Songcharoen, were symbolic of feeding the spirit of the monk.
Mourners approached the shrine and lit incense.
The temple, said Visanou Khamphouy, president of the congregation, planned a prayer service Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.
In a 2010 interview with the Press-Register, Moleechate, who was known as the Rev. Chaiwat, said that he was from Thailand and had been in the Mobile area for more than a decade.
He said that he had grown up in “a very poor family” near the Laotian border, and began his religious studies at age 12.
He became a monk at age 21.
He said he knew little English when he had arrived in America, but “I learned it from TV.”
Photos of the Rev. Chaiwat Moleechate, were part of a shrine before the altar with figures of the Buddha at Wat Buddharaska Temple in Grand Bay on Saturday. Press-Register/Roy Hoffman
After a 2008 fire destroyed Wat Buddharaska, the temple was rebuilt.
Many Buddha figures at the temple were not damaged by the fire.
Moleechate had attributed that miracle to “the blessings from the Buddha,” and “all the prayers of the people and the monks.”
By lunchtime Saturday, as more people arrived, the floor of the temple was becoming filled with men and women, shoes off, talking in Laotian and Thai.
After the monks finished their lunch they sat on a long platform, where members of the community kneeled and offered prayers for Moleechate.
The late monk was a “kind, helpful, and honest man, with a good sense of humor,” said Mickey Armstrong, a Thai American from Jackson.
“He was a good Buddhist religious leader,” said Songcharoen, who said Moleechate served as an ambassador to the Buddhist people worldwide.
In 2010, Moleechate had spoken of meditation and chanting as central to the Buddhist practices.
From meditation, he said, comes calmness.
“We try to lead the Buddhist people to meditate,” Moleechate had said. “To cool down, to slow down. The clear mind. The pure mind.”
He said that “the clear mind” enables a person to accept what happens, and to find new direction.
Songcharoen said that he believed the monk charged with murder suffered mental illness.
“There is much sadness,” he said, “much sorrow.”
Homicide victim Chaiwat Moleechate in 2010 Press-Register video
By Mike Brantley, Press-Register Friday May 11, 2012
The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the homicide of Chaiwat Moleechate, 45, a Buddhist monk in Grand Bay, Ala., according to authorities. Moleechate was interviewed by the Press-Register in 2010 and appears in this video about the rebuilding of the Wat Buddharaksa following an accidental fire.
A Dhamma Talk on Vipassana and mindfulness meditation by Vipassana Gossalaya Jotannano Hong Keo, Vipassana Buddhist Master during a 10-Day Meditation & Vipassana Retreats at the Buddhist Meditation Center, Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam on the 11th Waxing Moon – 7th Waning Moon of Jeṭṭha B.E.2560 equivalent to June 15 – 26, A.D.2016 in Leverett, Massachusetts, U.S.A. in 2016.
ក្រុងសាវត្ថី Sāvatthī or Śrāvastī
Vipassana chanting by Meditation Master Ketodhammo Som Bunthoeun. Footages from 2016 Vipassana classes at the Buddhist Meditation Center – Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam in Leverett, Massachusetts, USA.
SAMDECH CHUON NATH
Khmer literature and Dhamma talk by His Holiness Jotannano Chuon Nath, the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia Buddhism. His Holiness was born on March 11, 1883; passed away on September 25, 1969
MAHA GHOSANANDA SERVICES
Extraordinary Funeral and Memorial Services for His Holiness Samdech Dr. Maha Ghosananda