Our Lady of the Smile Parish in Chamkar Teang celebrated Easter with 55 candidates from four places being baptised. The celebration of Easter was officiated by bishop Oliver Schmitthaeusler of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh on 21 April 2019 in Takeo province. The 55 candidates who had come from these Churches were, Trapang Krongoung – a new Church, St. Paul’s Church, Takeo city and Our Lady of the Smiles Parish.
Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler said: “Tonight, it is a joy for the parish in Takeo province, for the Phnom Penh Diocesan Church in Cambodia where God chose additional 55 candidates to become His children and especially joining in the large family of God, who make up the Church.” The provincial parish was established in the mid-1990s with only one Catholic who had tried to learn about the Word of God in Phnom Penh until he received baptism. By trying to express the faith and the support from the then-Fr. Olivier, gradually the Gospel of Jesus had spread in the province by many people following Jesus. Now in the province, there are seven parishes.
On the occasion, besides the 55 newly baptised, there were 18 other candidates receiving baptism at Prekabas Church and another five in Kirivong Church in the province.
A newly baptised youth, Phim Oun from Our Lady of the Smiles Parish, said: “I am happy to receive the sacrament of baptism with renewed life, getting to know God even more clearly. I want to become a Catholic because I want to take part in all activities in the Church.” Oun is a youth who is active and talented in arts. He put on a performance demonstrating the meaning of the Bible, the Gospel and ballet traditional dance in various services of the Church. Another youth Don Davit said: “When I got baptised, I feel very excited and happy because I have waited for this a long time ago. It is the time when I think that it is most important for me –it is the time to have life re-born.”
The youth further said that since he had known the Church, Jesus, there were several changes in his life – the focus is on brothers and sisters helping more than he had not yet known Jesus, especially opening his heart wide to all brothers and sisters. He had vowed to continue taking God as a model of renewed life forever.
During his homily at Easter night vigil, Bishop Olivier further elaborated:
“Brothers and sisters, tonight Jesus has risen. Alleluia! Alleluia! Tonight it was in darkness filled with renewed hope, light that you have seen with your own eyes just now – a light that leads our life to a renewed one and leads brothers and sisters to receive tonight’s baptism to be re-born, leading us to thank God and for us to be awakened.”
The bishop also reminded all parishioners in the province and the whole Phnom Penh diocese alike, to detach themselves from selfishness, thinking of one’s own self-interest, own well-being and to turn to attentively opening one’s eyes and hearts very wide to love the destitute, orphans, widows and the elderly. He has also urged Catholics to build fraternity among themselves because all are brothers and sisters in Jesus. He added: “We are the people of hope and a large family who have the capacity to create fraternity in the world. So a person who wants to kill a person, a person wanting to kill and mistreat others, he/she cannot win over fraternity. We are human beings who encourage one another. We are a large family who love one another with our hearts.”
He continued: “Just thinking in Takeo province in Cambodia and in the entire world alike, if all Catholics and all human beings have good and honest hearts, they could shake hands in order to make a joint journey. Human beings whose hearts have cruelty and evils, cannot win. Only love and fraternity will prevail. This is the meaning of Jesus who is Risen.” On this occasion, the bishop encouraged all the parishioners to take care of spiritual life by connecting with God. He also commented: “Tonight is a night that Jesus is Risen – a night that the Father shows His love, which leads Jesus out of the darkness of death to go into the light of life. Tonight is an occasion to profess our faith as a new message of promise that God have mercy on me and lead me to the years to come, to enable me know how to pray, listen to Your Word, retain my spiritual life, in order to become Catholics who are truly united in You.” The whole Catholic Diocese of Phnom Penh had 150 candidates receiving baptism during Easter celebrations in 2019.