New Apostolic Prefect

Earlier this year, Msgr. Antonysamy Susairaj, MEP, resigned as the apostolic prefect of the Apostolic Prefecture of Kampong Cham. Catholic Church distinctions and terminology get really confusing, even to the clergy, but an apostolic prefect is equivalent to a bishop for a territory that has not yet developed enough to become a formal diocese. There are two of these apostolic prefectures in Cambodia, Kampong Cham and Battambang. The apostolic prefect has all the powers of a bishop except ordaining priests.

Fr. Bruno Cosme, another member of the French Foreign Mission group (the MEPs), was appointed as apostolic prefect to replace Msgr. Antony and on 30 November 2019 was formally installed at a ceremony at the Catholic parish in Kampong Cham.

Lunch was to be served to all the guests invited to the installation and, in true Cambodian fashion, large tents were set up both on the church grounds and here on the street where the people could sit at large round tables. At least the tent company complied with the old law that at least one lane of traffic had to be maintained.
Inside the church compound which contains classrooms, a small church, and an activities hall, a large tent was set up for the ceremony at the rear of the property.
Erecting various sizes and styles of tents for such ceremonies is an art and science in Cambodia. You can accommodate any size crowd for any type of event.
As the people arrived, a sister practiced music for the ceremony with a group of school children. Given the size of the Catholic community in Kampong Cham, it is very likely that a large number of these youth are not Christian.
Probably 60% of the 72 priests in Cambodia came for the installation, some traveling great distances. For the early arrivals a room was provided with coffee and snacks and that created a venue for catching up with each other while waiting for the service to start.
Outside preparations were underway also and here a group of dancer who were to lead the procession posed for photos with Msgr. Kike from Battambang and with Charlie. You don’t see many processions with dancers with peacock feathers in US parishes.
Finally it was time for all the priests to get vested for the ceremony which was to begin at 9:30 AM, late in the day according to Cambodian culture where Cambodian weddings take place at 6:00 or 6:30 AM on a weekday morning.

[More to come]