New York #1

Today was the day I made the transition from Kentucky to New York for the final part of my US journey.

Louisville is a busy airport because it is the hub for UPS and their hundreds of flights per day, but the passenger-side apron was relatively clear when I took off at lunch time.
Here we are starting our final approach into EWR, the Newark, New Jersey airport, and below us was one of the metropolitan area’s stadiums for a professional sports team.
I had to wait 65 minutes for the bus from EWR to Grand Central Station in Manhattan and then it was a slow journey through heavy traffic.
A high point of every trip to New York City is going through Grand Central Station, an iconic train station serving lines going all over the East Coast. It was a 50-minute ride on the train to Ossining and then I had to catch a taxi to the Maryknoll Sisters Center where I am staying. The taxis were few and far between and when one finally came, the young man ahead of me invited me to share his taxi so the taxi dropped him off and then went to Maryknoll.

Maryknoll Sisters Farewell

Last weekend the Maryknoll Sisters officially made their exit from Cambodia, returning to the Sisters Center in Ossining, New York. For more than thirty years, Maryknoll Sisters did wonderful work in a variety of projects but the sisters here were starting to feel the years and their congregation does not have the new members to build up the sisters community here, so it was decided to end their presence here.

Sr. Ann Sherman, one of the last four Maryknoll Sisters in Cambodia, returned to New York in December. For the remaining three sisters, we had a special blessing ceremony at the end of the Saturday mass. Charlie led a blessing in which the whole congregation was asked to participate as we said goodbye to a fine group of women. In the photo (L to R) are Sr. Mary Little, Sr. Regina Pellicore, and Sr. Helene O’Sullivan. Sr. Regina will actually stay on another month or so to deal with the government requirements for terminating an International NGO in Cambodia.

Caritas Cambodia Retreat 2024 / Day 3

Today was the second of three full days of presentations and activities for the retreat.

A large amount of time was given to a panel discussion about social action as perceived and practiced by different religions. Buddhism and Islam speakers participated with our Catholic representatives.
Later in the afternoon, Soknym and I presented the vision and work of the now Caritas Deaf Development Programme. Here Soknym holds the microphone for me as I gave an introduction in English and sign language.
Then Soknym continued alone in Khmer, going through a presentation we had prepared to describe our work at DDP.
Some empty seats were visible at supper tonight. We had two hours between the end of the afternoon session and supper, and many people made a dash to the beach and were late for dinner.

Wednesday change

For 30-something years, the Maryknoll Cambodia Mission Team met every Wednesday for a business meeting, a liturgy, and then a meal together. Now that the Maryknoll Cambodia NGO has been closed and we no longer have an office to meet in, it was decided that those who are interested could continue to meet and Maria and Kila volunteered their apartment as a venue.

Our liturgy and meal today was special because Tony (standing, L) is leaving on Saturday to return to his teaching in Australia. (L-R: Julie, Cristina, Tony, Regina, Bro. Tony, Brian)

Moving time–trucking it

The Maryknoll Cambodia NGO closes down this week, and today we vacated our office building. I was living there and moved to a flat a couple miles away in the Boeung Tum Pun area of Phnom Penh. I still have way too much stuff to move. I’ll have to get rid of a lot of it before my next move but at least for now it’s all in the new place, even if it’s all in boxes still.

Moving time–again

This week the Maryknoll Cambodia office will close and I had to find a new living space. That wasn’t too hard but then I was faced with the daunting task of packing up for the move. Luckily, two Christmas elves in the neighborhood appeared and did a fantastic job of getting (cramming?) all my stuff into boxes, bags, and suitcases. Thanks, Maria and Kila!

Farewell to Ann

Maryknoll Sr. Ann Sherman returned to the United States today after ten years of ministry in Cambodia. She regularly attends the masses I have with the Missionaries of Charity and today at the end of mass we said goodbye and took a group photo–with some of the orphans who come to the mass.

Sr. Ann Sherman (C).

Final Meeting

Standing: Sr. Ann Sherman, Kylene Fremling, Charlie Dittmeier, Julie Lawler, Sr. Helene O’Sullivan. Seated: Sr. Regina Pellicore, Sr. Mary Little, Fr. Kevin Conroy. Missing: Hang Tran.

Since 1991 when Maryknoll first came to work in Cambodia, all the Maryknollers in the kingdom have met on Wednesday afternoons for a meeting, a liturgy, and then a dinner together. When I first came in 2000, there were 25 to 27 people gathered in the living room of the Maryknoll house every Wednesday.

Everything has changed now and Maryknoll Cambodia, the International NGO, will cease to exist in a couple weeks, and today we had our last Wednesday meeting forever. The Maryknoll priests and sisters just don’t have the personnel to send to Cambodia. The Maryknoll Lay Missioners will continue here with four members. A sad day.

Closing Time

Today Maryknoll Cambodia, the legal entity authorized by the Cambodia government so that Maryknoll can work in the kingdom, had a closing celebration. In December Maryknoll Cambodia as an NGO will cease to exist.

We had a Maryknoll meeting and then a closing liturgy. Here Maryknoll Lay Missioner Julie Lawler passes out papers for one of the mass songs.
Julie and Sr. Regina Pellicore planned this gathering. Here we viewed photos of our activities over the years, recalling the various ministries we’ve been part of.
Former members of Maryknoll Cambodia were also invited to offer their memories and reflections, and quite a few did so. Here Sr. Ann reads one of the reflections we received.