Health and Spirituality

Today at a priests meeting, Bishop Olivier showed us a new gym or exercise room he has set up at the pastoral center. It will be useful for the seminarians living there and also for all the guests who come for retreats and meetings.

Sunday of the Spirits

Today is Pentecost Sunday for Christians. Last week on the day of the Ascension, Jesus handed over his mission to the apostles before ascending into heaven. Today Jesus imparts his Spirit to guide and strengthen the apostles in their mission to the ends of the earth.

The Khmer culture attends to the spirits also.

In the pictures above, a dental assistant at a dentist’s office first says a prayer, holding sticks of incense (L), and then she puts the incense (M) in the shrine on the right side of the entrance. Then she puts more incense in the holder to the left of doorway.

White people. Do Something.

An excerpt from a statement by the heads of seven committees of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops:


We are broken-hearted, sickened, and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes. What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of DETERMINED CONVERSION.


Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on. As members of the Church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference. We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.

“Determined conversion” could work….

COVID-19 Notes

From the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Missouri, Deon K. Johnson:

The work of the church is essential.
The work of caring for the lonely, the marginalized, and the oppressed is essential.
The work of speaking truth to power and seeking justice is essential.
The work of being a loving, liberating, and life giving presence in the world is essential.
The work of welcoming the stranger, the refugee and the undocumented is essential.
The work of reconciliation and healing and caring is essential.
The church does not need to “open” because the church never “closed”. We who make up the Body of Christ, the church, love God and our neighbors and ourselves so much that we will stay away from our buildings until it is safe.

We are the church.

Invitation to Reflect….

The COVID-19 pandemic causes much pain and suffering. It may also offer us an opportunity to reflect on who we are and what we do as God’s children, as the church. Maybe we shouldn’t go back to “normal.” Maybe the old “normal” wasn’t so good but was just the path of least resistance, the easiest way to get by.

Women Deacons

Ancient mosaic of a woman in the priestly “orans” (praying) position.

In a recent scholarly article, Phyllis Zagano thoughtfully draws out the theological implications of her research, but her main point is historical: There is simply no precedent on which to base the exclusion of women from the diaconate in the Catholic Church.

Zagano continues: The most famous example of a woman deacon comes from Scripture. In fact, the only person in Scripture called “deacon” is named in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, where he addresses the deacon—the woman deacon—Phoebe.

Working in a new way

Government regulations to control the spread of COVID-19 have prohibited all church gatherings and meetings. The church wishes to continue to assist the local parish communities, however, so today Bishop Olivier organized an online meeting of the parish priests of the diocese, to discuss what the church can do while still following and supporting the government guidelines. Priests in seven different locations participated in an online conference call. I was with Fr. Damien at the church in Boeung Tum Pun.

Another Anniversary

On 14 April 1975, Bp. Emile Destombes ordained Fr. Salas the first Cambodian bishop. That was the last action of the official church in Cambodian until Easter Sunday, 14 April 1990. That was when Bp. Emile (above, right), after his return, celebrated the first official public mass after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. The mass was celebrated in Chenla Theater and those present said the electricity went off and the only light was the paschal candle. This week is the 30th anniversary of that resurrection of the Cambodian Church


A follow-up…

This is the building on the site of the former cathedral of Phnom Penh diocese. When I first arrived in 2000, a large TV broadcasting antenna was on this site but then it was replaced with this building which is the headquarters of the Ministry of Telecommunications.

Msgr. Salas

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge entering and occupying Phnom Penh. Three days before, Bp. Emile Destombes secretly ordained Fr. Chhmar Salas as the first Cambodian bishop of the diocese before Bp. Emile was deported. Salas’ last words to Bp. Emile were “Tell the world about us.” Bp. Salas died under the Khmer Rouge two years later.

The cathedral pictured above was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.