Querida Amazonia 1

Pope Francis has published his apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia. I will post some of the highlights from the document in which Pope Francis focuses on four dreams.

Social Dream

I dream of an Amazon region that fights for the rights of the poor, the original peoples and the least of our brothers and sisters, where their voices can be heard and their dignity advanced. (7)

1. “We do not need an environmentalism ‘that is concerned for the biome but ignores the Amazonian peoples.’” (8)

Different celebration of death

Today I went to the funeral of a colleague from the Philippines who died here. There aren’t many funerals in the Catholic churches in Cambodia because there aren’t many Catholics and because the Cambodian Catholics are mostly quite young and the foreign Catholics tend to be younger or robust middle age also. We don’t have a significant population of older foreigners living here. This was only the second or third time in twenty years that I have been at an actual funeral in a church with the body present. Most of the time I have funerals at the Buddhist wats (pagodas) where the body is to be cremated or else there is a simple ceremony at the morgue before a body is shipped to its home country for burial.

Deaths of Two Sisters

Sr. Myrna Porto worked with Maryknoll Fr. John Barth at the Takeo Eye Hospital, and she became the director of TEH when it was turned over to Caritas. She returned to the Philippines two years ago because of ill health and then died at the beginning of January. Her memorial mass in Phnom Penh was set for yesterday, Friday, 17 January. Then in a sad turn of fortune, another sister of the Daughters of Charity, Sr. Adelfa Siega, died during Thursday night at their house in Takeo, and the memorial mass was changed to include both of the sisters.

Epiphany Gathering

Every year on the Sunday when Epiphany is celebrated, Bishop Olivier invites parish leaders, sisters, brothers, and priests to a gathering. He gives a talk and updates on what is happening in the diocese, there are some performances, and then all are invited to eat together.

Bishop Olivier addressing the gathered leaders in the hall at the pastoral center.
Always there are traditional dances associated with large gatherings.
This year the bishop gave bags of rice grown in church projects to each of the participants.
The sisters serving in Cambodia don’t get as much recognition as the priests but this year all the sisters present were invited to the stage to sing some Christmas carols for the assemblage. These are the Salesian Sisters (L) and the Missionaries of Charity, the two groups for which I have mass every week.

Outdoor Creche

This year the Church of the Child Jesus in Boeung Tum Pun decided to enlarge their Christmas creche as part of their Christmas awareness outreach for the neighborhood.
They developed a whole village, even with a running stream. Already they are making plans for next year when they want the figures to be larger.

Simbang Gabi in Phnom Penh 3

The Philippines Embassy in Phnom Penh was trying to recreate the spirit of the Simbang Gabi pre-Christmas devotions celebrated on the nine days before Christmas in the Philippines but limited it to three nights. The first two nights were Catholic masses but the third night was an ecumenical service with people attending from five Christian churches.

A woman pastor from the Jesus Is Lord church led a session of praise and worship.
Another leader, from the International Christian Assembly, led music performed during the collection of the offering
A Christmas nativity scene erected outside the Embassy of the Philippines.

Simbang Gabi in Phnom Penh 2

This evening the Filipino Community had a second Simbang Gabi mass at the Philippino Embassy.

This was the second of the three evening services to be held as part of Simbang Gabi. The first two were Catholic masses. The third will be a Christian ecumenical service.
Again the mass goers were treated to Christmas music after the service, this time from the Nine Harmonics (one was missing tonight!). They had an energetic and fun performance.