What makes my day (or week)!

I’m sure all of us have certain little events or occurrences or perhaps meeting certain people that “make my day,” that is, something that gives a really pleasing and satisfying tone to the day (or maybe to a week).

For me, it is having the bananas I buy in a bunch (called a “hand” of bananas here) get eaten before the last ones are impossible to peel and so overripe they need to be eaten with a spoon. This hand of bananas has fourteen individual bananas. Normally the bunches have anywhere between twelve and twenty bananas and the fruit sellers don’t want to cut the bunch in half, which would be perfect for me.

I am the only one who eats at my house so I need to consume them all. This type of banana is smaller than a typical US banana and I try to eat one at each meal and that would work out to finish them off in about five days. But with eating breakfast in different places because of morning masses, sometime I’m slow working on the bunch and after six or seven days still have a few really brown, really soft bananas to go.

So it makes my week when the bananas are still firm and good tasting when I get to the last one of the bunch!

Christmas Event

When I first came to Cambodia, there were very few Christmas events and most of them were small private gatherings at churches or Christian schools. Now Cambodian society has learned there is money to be made recognizing Christmas and there are Christmas trees and Santa Clauses everywhere. And many of them have already been set up for this coming Christmas season.

Tonight the Phnom Penh Choral Ensemble perfromed Christmas songs in a charity concert at the Oakwood Premier Hotel. Almost all of the ensemble are members of our Catholic community so they invited me and I gladly attended.
The opening Silent Night song was accompanied by a ballet dancer who had wings sparkling with fairy lights.
At the intermission, refreshments were served at an outdoor courtyard in the building complex which is quite new and modern.
At the closing, Hannah Lyn Bandalan, the conductor of the Phnom Penh Choral Ensemble, gave a very well written thank-you and tribute to the people made this even possible.

It’s a BIG machine!

In the last ten or fifteen years I have every year spent more time in B747s and B777s than I have in automobiles. (In Phnom Penh I ride a bicycle or tuk-tuk for long distances.) I have a good sense of the big wide-body aircraft but seeing the image of President Biden descending from Air Force One really impressed me large a 747 is! I

60 Years after Vatican II

This week was the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church. It’s good to remember what the Council accomplished. And the best summation comes from the late John W. O’Malley, SJ, in “What Happened at Vatican II.” In short, the church moved from “commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to serving, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust, from static to ongoing, from passive acceptances to active engagement, from fault-finding to appreciation, from prescriptive to principles, from behavior modification to inner appropriation.”

[From Fr. James Martin’s Twitter]

Maryknoll Transition #3

I am starting to get feedback from people about various misunderstandings about the changes coming up in my ministry in Cambodia. Let me be clear about a few things that I will explain more fully in the days to come:

  • My old contract with the Maryknoll priests group (the Maryknoll Society) is to end on 30 June 2022.
  • My new contract with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners is to start on 1 July 2022.
  • I am not retiring at this point.
  • I am not stopping my work in Cambodia with the Deaf Development Programme or with the English Catholic Community. That will continue.
  • I am not leaving Cambodia at this point. I plan to continue working in Cambodia at least through December, 2023.
  • I am not leaving the priesthood.
  • The Maryknoll Society has disabled my cdittmeier@maryknoll.org e-mail account. Please do not send anything to that address but use cdittmeier@gmail.com from now on.
  • Please do not send any money to me for the deaf work though Maryknoll, NY. It will not reach me.

In the most simple terms, nothing will change except that I am replacing a Maryknoll Society contract with a contract from the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. And my e-mail address will change to cdittmeier@gmail.com.

Hospital Day 21

I came to Bangkok planning to stay at the Maryknoll office for three nights while I took a Covid-delayed physical exam. I am still here, three weeks later, although the end is in sight.

There are two guest rooms on the third floor, and this is the one at the back of the house. I’m not sure how I ended up in this one, although with the original plan of a three-day stay it really didn’t make much difference. But when my stay stretched to 3+ weeks, the lack of a table or desk in this room became a nuisance. I scrounged around for furniture the right height to type on and it worked out OK.
This is looking the length of the room from the other end where the door is. Apparently, it used to be a small apartment with a little kitchenette but some of the previous walls have been removed.
This is the other room on the third floor, at the front of the house. It has a table but the bed is so low I am glad I did not have to get in and out of it after major abdominal surgery. It was interesting that going up and down the stairs daily was no problem at all.