คณะสงฆ์ วัดธัมมาราม นครชิคาโก สหรัฐอเมริกา
September 13, 1974: Filed as “Thai Buddhist Center of Illinois”; engaged in religious duties, raising fund for establishment of the temple. May 17, 1976 (B.E. 2519) : The status of the Center was raised to become the Buddhist Temple in full status under the Religious Law of the State of Illinois, with the Buddhist monk elected as its president (Phra Suddhiratanaporn) was the first president of the Temple), at that time, the Temple not yet had a permanent place. December 13, 1977 (2520): Bought Greek Orthodox Church along with the apartment beside it, at 1000-1004, North Hoyne Avenue, Chicago. Monks moved to reside there for 8 years. 1979 (B.E. 2522) The Main Buddha Statue “Phra Buddha Jina Dhammopas” was granted by His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyades, in his Royal Signature Bhor Por Ror, to the high ranking monk: Venerable Phra Thirayanmuni (Punnakamahathera, Pali 9th Level) of Wat Chakkavarti to be brought along and established in the shrine hall.
In1980 (B.E. 2523) Somdes Phra Nanasamvara, the Patriach (Suvatthana Mahathera) when ranked as Phra Nanasamvara came as a special visiting guest. In November 15, 1981 (B.E. 2524) Her Majesty the Queen Sirikit with the Princess Chulapornvalailak came visited. She enshrined the Buddha Holy Relic in the Hair-base of the Main Buddha statue. Out of her generosity she donated the amount of US$25,000.00 which was later on named as “Her Majesty Queen Sirikit Fund B.E. 2524”. In 1982 (B.E. 2525) The Supreme Patriach Somdes Phra Ariyavangsagatanana (Vasabha Mahathera) of Wat Rajabopit Sthitamahasimaram had presented the name of the temple as well as the name of the Dhamma magazine.
After all it was felt that the temple location was too narrow for the increasing people who came for religious festivals and ceremony. So the pursue for the new location had begun. Therefore, in July 8, 1983 Thai people bought this present place, the former Elementary School Buildings with landed property 25 acres, cost $350,00.00. In order to have the new place the old temple was sold. Gradually they asked for permission to change the zone and to alter to the Thai Buddhist Temple successfully. Then, the monks finally moved to this new location on July 8, 1983 (B.E. 2526).
In 1984 (B.E. 2527) the Consacration (known as Phuk Baddhasima Ceremony) was performed in order to conform to the Vinaya Rules along with the officially opening and the celebration of the new temple. In this auspicious occasion that the First Annual Meeting of the Thai Bhikkhus in the USA was held so that monks could participate in the widest scale. Then, in May 26-27, 1985 (B.E. 2528) the celebration of the monk honorific rank of Phrarajratanaporn (Prasit Khemangaro) was organized by Dr. Pipit Chiammongkoltip, the president of the occasion. The fundraising was also initiated in order to collect fund for the future building of the Queen Sirikit Hall. Such funding was initially accumulated from many sources, namely, 1) from “Her Majesty Queen Sirikit Fund B.E. 2524”, 2) “Temple Building Fund including money donated from various religious activities,” 3) “The Multi-purpose Hall Fund including additional money” In July 1-2, 1989 (B.E. 2532) the Laying Foundation Ceremony of the hall was held along with the 13th Year Celebration of the temple. The building of the hall was in its continuation until the year 1992 (B.E. 2535) the hall was nearly completed but it could be useable. In the year 1992 (B.E. 2535) Thai Government accepted the project of the Multi-purpose hall in annexation to the Queen Sirikit Hall on the occasion of Fifth round birth anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen. In 1993 (B.E. 2536) The name “Queen Sirikit Hall” was granted by Her Majesty the Queen. On Saturday, May 27, 1995 (B.E. 2538) The Queen of Thailand came to Chicago for the Opening Ceremony of the Queen Sirikit Hall. In 2001 (B.E. 2544) The building of the Monk Residential Quarter was started. As the monks were temporarily permitted to stay in the building, therefore, the resident was needed to be additionally built. When the building was completed in the early year of 2002 (B.E. 2545) it was named as “Phra Promvachirayan Building” by the kind permission of him as the present abbot, or president. The celebration of the resident was also made in June 15-16, 2002 (B.E. 2545).
The name “Wat Dhammaram” was given by the Supreme Patriarch of the Thai Sangha. The objectives of the temple are to maintain and promote Buddhist teaching, Thai culture, and to organize Buddhist followers for religious and charitable activities.At present we have six lay-persons elected as Board of Directors combined with the resident monks.
Temple activities and services: What Dhammaram, the first Theravada Buddhist temple in the Midwest, consisted of mainly four sections in maintaining their regular activities, namely, 1) Vipassana Meditation Center to provide meditation practice, instruction on Buddhism including the welcome of quests coming from all directions. 2) Sunday School for teaching Thai language, culture and arts to young students and adults. 3) Thai Classical Dance Institute and 4) Thai Classical Music. Apart from these there are sections of 5) Kitchen and 6) Gardening sections. The temple also provides academic services to students from high schools, colleges. It is occasionally a place hosting the important meetings of the American Buddhist Congress, the Council of the Thai Bhikkhus in the USA, and the Buddhist Council of the Midwest. It also provides interfaith dialogues for all American religious communities, as well as source materials on Theravada Buddhism and Insight Meditation. “A Neighborhood Watch” meeting used to be organized a here several years ago, etc. Thank you for visiting us today! (Translated by Phramaha Boonshoo Sriburin, Ph.D. on Sunday, March 18, 2007, to submit to Council of Thai Bhikkhus in the USA, on behalf of Wat Dhammaram)