Kirirom Retreat / Sunday

Every year each MKLM group plans a retreat for its members. This year MKLM Cambodia arranged a retreat at a center at Kirirom National Park, a beautiful setting with hills (unusual in Cambodia) and trees.

Because I had the Sunday morning mass with the English Catholic Community, we left Phnom Penh at 2:00 PM for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Kirirom. Here Kylene and Julie, who made most of the arrangements, check in at the center which was quite nice.
Because of our late afternoon arrival, we planned no activities but just walked around to explore the center which had a real variety of activities and settings to investigate. First we located the restaurant, next to a pool, where we would eat all our meals.
Our rooms were in this building which is set in formal garden which would not be out of place in a European palace setting.
The center has a variety of accommodations, from tents and tree houses to hotel rooms and cabins like this one with its own kiosk on the lake’s edge.

CACD: 1st quarterly meeting

The Catholic Alliance for Charity and Development (CACD) is the social outreach arm of the Catholic Church of Phnom Penh. Maryknoll participates because of our projects with deafness, mental illness, and education. Today the topic was the role of technology and digitalization in serving the poor, and an amazing presentation was given by Mr. Sok Sopheakmonkol who demonstrated what artificial intelligence can do to assist NGOs like ours.
A second presentation about software and technology in monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning in NGOs was given by Mr. Art Kirby, the director of Catholic Relief Services in Cambodia.

It was quite and interesting and informative afternoon!

Lay Missioners Meeting

For more than 25 years, lay missioners from different countries who are working in Cambodia have gathered mostly monthly for friendship, socialization, and mutual support. Covid prevented meetings for two years but today the group met at the Maryknoll office to resume the monthly schedule.

Caritas from Korea (R) was a new member of the group joining us today. Here she chats with Julie.
Marie from Haiti (L), here talking to Kila at the break, was another new member.
Pilar from Spain (R) was the third newcomer to the group.
(L to R): Kylene, Marie, Pilar, and Cristina at the break.

Taiwan Trip-Thursday

Thursday and Friday were good days, with more presentations and reports and plans for the future. All in all it was a very good meeting, one of the best of my whole Maryknoll career.

Here are some final photos, of the building and grounds where we met at the Maryknoll house in Taichung.

The front of the Maryknoll center house.
Going around the side of the building to buildings in back.
The Maryknoll language school on the right and an office building on the left.
A glimpse of the Taichung neighborhood setting.


Taiwan Trip-Wednesday (Part 4)

After visiting the bishop’s office, we walked down the street to another building where a program for migrants was explained. The diocese has so many programs helping people! It is really wonderful!

One building housed a food pantry that operates on a large scale. Here one of the staff showed us a storeroom in the center.
The next stop was this center for people with disabilities. It has a coffee shop and also an area for selling bags, soap, handicrafts, and many other items made by the mostly young people with disabilities.
Bishop Martin (R) really went out of his way to welcome us and accompany us as we visited the different offices and programs in his diocese.
Our final stop for the day was a Chinese banquet at a hotel. It was delicious and also gave us a chance to talk more with some of the diocesan staff.

Taiwan Trip-Wednesday (Part 3)

The next stop was the bishop’s office.
The office staff had created a special banner just to welcome our group for our visit.
We toured the building and visited the circular chapel on the fourth floor.
A permanent exhibit on the ground floor presented the history of the early days of the Taichung Diocese and featured many Maryknollers.
Fr. John, one of the office staff, gave an interesting overview of the diocese.
Charlie and friend. This type of statue was featured in the Taichung Lantern Festival we visited Sunday night.

Taiwan Trip-Wednesday (Part 2)

The next stop on our afternoon tour was is the unofficial Filipino parish, a community center for refugee workers where they can gather.
Upstairs, in a large hall, 500 Filipino migrant workers gather for mass every Sunday.
The many decorations, statues, and pictures reflect the popular religious devotion of Filipino culture.
One wall has a display of angel statues, probably set up at Christmas time.
At the rear of the large hall, upstairs is an emergency shelter for women who are having employment or medical problems or legal issues.

Taiwan Trip-Wednesday (Part 1)

Today was a fascinating day. We started off with presentations in the morning on regional structures and priorities and then on regional finances. Then in the afternoon we had a wonderful tour of Maryknoll and church programs. It made me really proud to be part of Maryknoll and the Catholic Church.

After lunch we boarded a bus to take us around Taichung City.
Our first stop was the catheral for the diocese. Maryknoll built it in the 1950s.
The next stop was a five-story center for foreign migrant workers who encounter problems in their employment in Taiwan and need assistance. This a retraining area to teach commercial baking.
Another floor has training in commercial sewing.
Another section teaches massage.
This is an upstairs dormitory for emergency shelter for men appealing labor decisions or recovering from surgery or caught in legal employment situations.
Downstairs is a recreation area with exercise equipment and places to socialize and talk.

Taiwan Trip-Tuesday

The first full day of meetings started off with a report by the Maryknoll Superior General Lance Nadeau.
Fr. Joyalito is the Asia Region Superior and appeared throughout the day giving reports and guidance for the meetings.
In the afternoon all the participants at this meeting gave a brief overview of their lives and ministry at this time. This is Fr. Bob McCahill from Bangladesh.
The members gathered in the chapel for evening prayer before supper.
After supper there was a musical presentation by a string ensemble that is supported by Fr. Kurt Anderson. Here four of the six members are tuning up.

Taiwan Trip-Monday

The four of us (Kevin Conroy, Charles Tsai, Brian Barrons, Charlie Dittmeier) stayed overnight at the Maryknoll house in Taipei and gathered for breakfast. The group had hoped to see the Super Bowl before leaving for Taichung, but it was not on any of the available stations.
There was a 2 hour, 15 minutes drive south to Taichung, and then at 4:00 PM, there was an opening liturgy with the bishop of Taichung.
There are six young men from the Philippines, candidates for joining Maryknoll, staying at the Taipei house. They provided musical accompaniment for the mass.
Then there was a social gathering to allow us all to meet each other, either for the first time or to renew old acquaintances.
Then it was time to eat, and when the meal was finished, most headed for their rooms after a long day of traveling from the countries of east Asia.