Persecution: It’s real…

Yesterday one of our Pakistani refugees here in Cambodia was able to go to Japan where he hopes to start a new life. Our St. Vincent de Paul Society in the English parish has been working with ten families who have fled religious persecution in Pakistan, and Saturday night we got two more newly arrived families. There is a limit to what we can do. In the past two weeks I have been asked for $46,000+ for refugee needs. We just don’t have that. The persecution is real, though, and people are fleeing for their lives.

Relics of Modern Saints

St. Theresa of Lisieux is one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church and her parents are also official saints. The relics of the parents–Louis and Zélie Martin–were brought to the Saturday evening liturgy of the English community by Bishop Olivier. Click here to see photographs from this visit.

The Martin Relics

The Diocese of Phnom Penh is in the middle of a three-year focus on families and family life and Bishop Olivier connected that theme with the bringing of the relics of the parents of St. Theresa of Lisieux to Cambodia. Today was a family day celebration at which the bishop (behind the yellow table) addressed those attending
The relics are contained in the metal receptacle enclosed under the heavy plastic cover. A photo of Louis and Zelie Martin, Theresa’s parents, is at right.

School visit to church

Three groups of students from ASEAN International School went to the Church of the Child Jesus in Boeung Tum Pun this week to learn about what Catholics believe and practice. Almost all the students were Buddhist and this was their first time in a Catholic Church. I explained our basic beliefs and then showed them around the church and answered their questions.

Vocations Camp Visitors

The Church of Cambodia is having a vocations camp this week, bringing together 300 youth from all over the kingdom to discuss what it means to be a Catholic Christian and to reflect on the idea of a vocation of service as a sister or brother or priest. Today different small groups visited various organizations to learn about the work of the Catholic Church in Cambodia. This group came to the Deaf Development Programme where I talked to them about deaf ministry.

Visit of Relics to Cambodia

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, together with St. Francis Assisi is considered one of the most popular saints in the history of the church.  She died at the age of 24, in 1897, but is known for her simple and practical approach to the spiritual life. What sets her apart from other saints, whether in ancient times or modern times, is that her parents were also canonized as saints, the only married couple so honored. Some relics of her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, have been brought to Cambodia as an inspiration to Cambodian Catholics as they focus on the family this year. Here Bishop Olivier is at the cargo terminal at the Phnom Penh airport to claim the shipment when it arrived in the kingdom. He has been taking the relics to the parishes and institutions throughout Cambodia.

Marist Brothers Chapter

Every three years the Brothers of the Marist District of Asia have a chapter meeting to reconnect and to discuss issues of governance for their community. In 2016 and in 2019 they met at the pastoral center in Phnom Penh Thmey in Cambodia and both times I was invited to work with them for their liturgical celebrations.

There were 45 brothers attending this chapter. They come from many different countries around the world and they work in 10 or 12 countries in Asia.
The pastoral center has a large chapel that we used for the daily liturgies.
The liturgies were at 6:00 PM and I was invited to eat dinner with the brothers and to stay overnight. On this evening Brother Francis who works in Cambodia was acknowledging some of the brothers who were moving to new missions.

Catholic Church and Disabilities

Today Bishop Olivier asked all the Catholic NGOs that work with people with disabilities to come together for a sharing session. About 12 or 13 groups were represented. The main speaker for the morning was a spokesman from the government’s Disability Action Council
Mr. Te Serey Bon, the director of the Caritas Takeo Eye Hospital (where I had my cataract surgery) made a plea for government funding for programs that the church has set up with government cooperation but without government funding.
A lot of good networking and information sharing takes place
among the participants at the break times.
Bishop Olivier encouraged and thanked all the groups for the work they are doing, especially among some of Cambodia’s poorest people.