Every year at the Maryknoll office we put up a large Christmas tree that was given us several years back by a departing family. In the recent past, Fr. Bob Wynne did most of the work setting in up in his free time, but this year, after his return to the US, the tree decorating became a Maryknoll community event. We ended our usual Wednesday meeting an hour early and encouraged by some cheese and crackers and chocolate candy, the tree was set up and grandly decorated.
Yesterday we received the sad news that Brother Terry Heinrich died in Australia. With the Marist Brothers, Terry established and directed the LaValla School in Takhmao, a really excellent facility for young people with physical disabilities that is a model for Cambodia. Terry had been ill and returned to Australia about a month ago for treatment. He was also a significant member of the English-speaking Catholic community that meets on Saturday night and he served there as one of our best lectors. He was a most pleasant child of God, a real gentleman, and he will be greatly missed.
Today the three Salesian Sisters technical schools for girls had their graduation, for a little over 100 young women. Two of the schools are in Phnom Penh where one focuses on office skills and the other provides training in cooking, sewing, etc. The third school is Battambang and it provides more of the technical skills like cooking.
Colin Allen is the president of the World Federation of the Deaf which represents deaf people to the United Nations. He is a real organizational genius, just the type of advocate leader the deaf community needs–and he was just recognized for his abilities by made a member of the Order of Australia in the most recent Queen’s List.
Coincidentally the guard at our Maryknoll office in Phnom Penh showed up wearing an old Colin Allen shirt! Maybe fifteen years ago we made up some shirts for a birthday party for Colin when he worked at the Deaf Development Programme here–before he got to the big leagues. I doubt the appearance of the shirt at this time was intentional–I have no idea how the guard got it and I’m sure he has no idea who Colin is–but it was a fortuitous alignment of events!
Occasionally, just for a lark, the Maryknoll Lay Missioners group in Cambodia goes for a “glam photo,” all of us westerners dressed up in traditional Khmer costumes. The photo shop crew takes individual shots of each person dressed in the color of his or her choice and then takes several group shots. Here a photographer adjusts Sami Scott’s head to get just the right angle while Russ Brine and Hang Tran wait their turn.
Jerry Bell, John Burke, and Joe Graffis are three priests from Louisville, Kentucky and long-time friends and colleagues of Charlie Dittmeier. On their way to Vietnam, they stopped in Cambodia to visit with Charlie and learn more about the church’s work here. Click here to see pictures from the first part of their trip.
At our weekly Wednesday meeting today, Fr. Kevin Conroy showed off a new vestment he was given in gratitude by a family with a mentally ill elder. The man had been acting out, sometimes violently, but when Fr. Kevin–who runs the Maryknoll Mental Health Program–came to see him, Kevin was able to reduce the man’s agitation and help the family find a new peacefulness.
I spent ten hours in Tokyo between flights but was able to take advantage of a free service offering guided tours to international travelers. It was a really wonderful experience. Click here to see where we went.
Two wounded in Maryland school shooting, student gunman killed.
Yesterday I was returning from Bangkok to Phnom Penh and ended up on the last flight out of Bangkok. I got in really late and then found my e-mail folder was corrupted. The meetings were good but the rest of the day sure didn’t go my way. Today, though, I’m back with a repeat of a too-sad posting.