Almost Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow and in preparation I spent part of Sunday afternoon burning old palm to make plenty of ashes. I’m thinking we may need more than usual because this year we are to sprinkle them on a person’s head rather than mark a cross on the forehead. We have plenty of palm trees on the grounds of the deaf office and I found a lot of fallen fronds so that wasn’t a problem. [The three white bandages on my right leg are from three dog bites I received on Thursday. More on that later.]

A reunion at DDP

Today four of the Salesian Sisters from their commercial training school in Tuol Kork came to visit DDP. One of the purposes of the visit was to reconnect with Phany (C), a former student who is now the new social worker at the Deaf Development Programme.

CACD Meeting

The Catholic Alliance for Charity and Development (CACD) meets quarterly, and today the meeting was at the Caritas Cambodia national training center in Takhmau. About 45 people from various Catholic NGOs and agencies attended.
At the end of the meeting, Bishop Olivier gave gifts of appreciation to those who served last year on the CACD steering committee.

Christmas 2020

We are having seven Christmas masses spread out over four days, December 24-25-26-27, to give more people a chance to celebrate Christmas with the faith community. For these masses we have reintroduced some liturgical practices we haven’t seen since March. We are saying the Gloria and starting to sing an opening and closing song and also for Christmas we are incensing the nativity set and altar at the beginning of all the masses.

Prepare the…Christmas celebrations

In the past week or two, church workers at St. Joseph Church where we have our English mass have been putting up platforms and other structures in preparation for Christmas.
Now the platform on the right is ready and will be the site first of a Christmas liturgy and then later a Christmas party for the neighborhood.

Wired for Sight

Partly because we want to be able to use visuals in our liturgy and partly because we cannot use paper missals and song books during the pandemic, we installed a video system in the chapel that we are now using for our English community masses.

There are now three 55″ monitors on each wall with another monitor facing the sanctuary so the presider can see what is being shown.
Here three technicians set up a control point where we will have a laptop computer for feeding the visuals into the video system. Fr. Chatsirey at the lectern helped to make sure the arrangements would work for our liturgies.
Here is what it looks like from the rear of the church after all the ladders and other equipment have been removed.

Church Women of El Salvador

Today is the 40th anniversary of the rape and murder of four U.S. church women working with refugees in El Salvador in Central America: Sr. Maura Clark, Lay Missioner Jean Donovan, Sr. Ita Ford, and Sr. Dorothy Kazel. Sr. Maura and Sr. Ita were Maryknoll Sisters. The four women were killed by the El Salvador military in a terrible period in that country’s history when more than 75,000 people were killed.
This is an El Salvador street mural memorializing the four martyred church women. Their memory lives on in some of the Cambodian Maryknollers, too. Sr. Helene, one of our Cambodian group, was president of the Maryknoll Sisters when the women were killed and went to El Salvador to handle the situation after their deaths and was also a participant in the trials of the military that followed. Fr. Kevin also had connections with lay missioner Jean Donovan who was also from Cleveland, Ohio. Fr. Kevin was at her funeral.

First Communion Day

Today three of the children of our community received their first communion at our 11:00 AM liturgy. For Catholics, Jesus is really present in communion under the appearances of bread and wine. It was a happy day for the children, their families, and our community.

The seating looks rather irregular but that’s because of COVID-19. We can put the families together but then they must be separated from the other families and the individuals who were arriving for this mass.
Fr. Charlie lighting the first candle on the Advent wreath.
The children came forward with their families to receive communion.
At the end of the liturgy each of the children received a certificate from Sr. Mary and Marylyn and Fr. Charlie gave them a small gift.
Also recognized this morning were the teachers and staff of our religious education program. (L-R:) Kylene, Marylyn, Sr. Mary, Fr. Charlie, and Borj.

Sacrament of Confirmation

This weekend Bishop Olivier came to our English liturgy to give the Sacrament of Confirmation to nine of our youth. It turned out to be a pleasant ceremony, but different from other confirmations because we had to practice social distancing and wear masks. Click here to see photos from the ceremony.