Children Learn to Understand about being a Happy Family

Phnom Penh Thmey - ០១ Sep ២០១៧

Phnom Penh Thmey: An estimated one hundred and sixty children from the pastoral sector in southern Phnom Penh participated in a camp with the theme “Family of Happiness”. The camp took place  from 29th August to 1st September 2017 at the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Phnom Penh Thmei. It was headed and facilitated by Fr. Damien Fahrner, the priest in charge of southern Phnom Penh district.  

            The aim of the camp was to get the children to learn to understand more about the way of life with a good relationship in a family. It involved learning about daily living activities, the drawing of pictures and meaningful games related with the theme.

            According to Fr. Damien, the Church in the Diocese of Phnom Penh had chosen the topic “Family of Happiness” because of its importance.  The family is a crucial factor in society and the Church in order to develop Cambodia into a loving society.



            “We are interested in the children because they are good at remembering things, which is why the Church wants to teach them to understand how to have a good relationship and know values in the family. However he expressed some regret that parents could not be present at this camp as it would have been better for them to really understand more and more about the significance of relationships in the family,” the priest said.

            Fr Damien also emphasised that the Church had always focused her attention to  children and organized such camps by following the words of Jesus, who said “Let the children come to me!” The Kingdom of God is for those who have a heart of a child. It emphasizes adults must  have open-mindedness, a simplicity of heart and purity like children.

            Mr. Vann Devin, a coordinator of the programme said that these few days, he saw that the camp was really meaningful this year because it helped them get to know each other  They also developed a good relationship and engaged actively by showing respect for each other irrespective of them belonging to any race or religion.

            In particular, he noticed the fervor in them when attending daily prayers.  The coordinator added that this was the way of leading them to have a good lifestyle in the family and society alike.  The camp brought together 50 children from   Boeung Tompun Church, 50 from Boeung Trabek and 60 both from Toutaing and Koh Noria.

Other News

Phnom Penh: This is the phrase quoted from the Bible by Bishop Olivier Schmittaeusler  in his homily. Bishop Olivier also quoted it on the occasion of the opening the new academic year 2017-2018 for the third batch of the students at  St. Justin’s School of Faith on 14 October 2017.  The ceremony took place at the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Phnom Penh Thmei, which was attended by many professorial priests and students.

Bishop Olivier urged all students to pay attention to and put into practice the Word of God in their daily lives.  He said that all study programmes of the school were to reflect the Word of God in day-to-day life such as ethics , Church history, morning Mass, the way of living in groups etc.

His Excellency Bishop Olivier emphasised: “This year is the time when we have to heed the Word of God further:

“First, it enables each one of us, and our school, to have a progressive life especially through relationships with our brothers and sisters.  Second, it allows other people around to be able listen to the Word of God, especially on social media.  Third, we care for neophytes, who have just been baptized to better understand of the values of vocation and the courage to answer that call.”

Miss Vann Nychhay Eng, an outstanding student of the school said that St. Justin’s School of Faith had been a great help to her in  understanding more about the tenets of Christianity, especially helping her with new ideas to educate children. The student added that one of the subjects she likes is spirituality because the subject is about life and a relationship with others and God.

St. Justin’s School of Faith was established in the year 2011 by Bishop Olivier Schmittaeulser. The school teaches Scripture, church history, spirituality, Theology, the teachings of the Catholic Church, and ethics. The school also has a programme reflecting on social developments and events with guest speakers.  The school has also provided the students an opportunity to learn about and understand the pastoral life of the Catholic Church in other countries as well. More photos


Phnom Penh: Bishop Olivier Schmittaeusler declared open the new academic year of 2017-2018 for the Catholic Major Seminary of St. Jean Marie Vianney with a Eucharistic celebration. During the Eucharistic  Bishop Olivier  made a formal announcement and the rite of admission of candidates Brack Bunhong and Vin Kann to the Seminary. They now officially become seminarians. The two candidates were studying at the institution to reflect on the call of God of living a priestly life.

The main celebrant of the Eucharistic was Bishop Oliver and concelebrated by the Apostolic Prefect, Msgr. Antonysamy of Kampong Cham Prefecture, together with Fr. Bob Piché, the rector of the seminary. A good number of people attended the ceremony on 11th October 2017.

The seminary was re-opened in the 1990s at a local Church in Battambang. Later it was relocated to the Capital city of Phnom Penh in 1998.  The seminary is the institution for youth to learn to understand about religious vocation and formation to the priesthood.

In his homily, Msgr. Antonysamy said by sharing his personal experiences when he even received encouraging words from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  The Pope Emeritus used to say: “Our difficulties has influene on the faith and  although other dificulties could not be solved, we have to have trust and try hard and pray. In spite of having difficutlies, may we offer all our difficulties to God.”

Taking this opporunity, Msgr. Antonysamy also explained the meaning of the Apstoles’s Creed that Catholics received from Jesus.  They have recited the Creed today to attentively receive God’s strength and even forgive other people.

Fr. Bob Piché formally asked Bishop Olivier during the rite to receive the candidates Bunhong and  Vin Kann and be called the full students of the Bishop.  The priest emphasised that the two have studied at the seminary three years ago during their initiation. They have reflected on the call of God and are preparing to answer this call with proper knowledge and commitment. Fr. Bob also asked the Catholics present to continue praying for all the seminarians.

Bunhong comes from Mondulkiri Church in Kampong Cham, while Vin Kann is from Phnom Penh. Bishop Olivier and Msgr. Antonysamy asked the two candiates questions: “Are you willing to consecrate your life for the Church and serve the People of God. With the contiunation of your formation,  are you ready to serve as priests in your respective dioceses?”

Then the two candidates aswered “yes” by saying: “We are willing to follow our commitment.” The two main celebrants agreed to rececive the two candidates into the seminary with  the appropriate writen notes.

Vin Kann said by showing his intention  that by receiving priestly formation for a priestly life with joy it prepares him both earthly and spiritual life. The seminarian even showed his determined interest to the priesthood whose role is to bring peace, blessing, and salvation of Jesus for other people. “The intention of becoming a priest is to live with Jesus, pray, love with focus on the pastral affairs of the Church           

The Catholic Church in Cambodia has made its efforts to help youth with reflection on a religious vocation so that they have the courage to make a decision to respond to God in their own faith. The Diocese of Phnom Penh itself has tried hard to organize a vocational prayer for the youth every month. It is evident that this prayer had borne fruits by bringing in a new youth, while  8 senior students are willing to enter the seminary in order to contemplate a priestly life for the year 2017-2018. More photos


Phnom Penh: Approximately one thousand Catholics from the three dioceses in Cambodia, mostly from Phsar Toich in Pnom Penh congregated at the parish of St. Joseph to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its rebirth. The anniversary was meant to thank and glorify God for the rebirth after the civil war in Cambodia. The ceremony took place on 7th October 2017. Bishop Oliver Schmittaeusler of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh celebrated Holy Mass, which was concelebrated by the two Apostolic Prefects, Msgr. Enrique Figaredo of Battambong and Msgr. Antonysamy of Kampong Cham Prefectures, together with many other priests.

             Fr. Reoung Chhatsirey, the priest in charge of the Church in Phsar Toich and the pastoral sector in northern Phnom Penh said that the ceremony reminded the Catholics present about the Churches that were re-established. The rebirth made them share in activities together and they even were of one heart to thank God for assisting in creating the church of St. Joseph. The priest continued by saying the church had renewed life after the civil war during the Pol Pot regime. Regard to Church history, Fr.  Chhatsirey said: “We received the title of a piece of land and the building of the church again on 7th October 1992. This meant that the Church was given the freedom by the regime in order to practice their faith again.”

            The Catholic Church in Cambodia was destroyed by the civil war during the Pol Pot regime.  Many of the churches, schools, monasteries, shelters for the sick and other church- owned buildings were destroyed almost completely. Many priests and Cambodian Catholics were tortured and killed. After that dark regime ended, surviving Catholics had tried hard to gather again to rebuild the Churches. According to history, before the outbreak of the war, a building that used to be the minor Catholic Seminary was running well for educating the youth  who had learnt to understand the religious life before having entering the Major Catholic Seminary  but after the civil war this building was used by the state as a medical facility. Having given permission from the state, the church of St Joseph is the main headquarters of the Catholic Church in Cambodia. Many of pastoral activities have been initiated from here in terms of reflections, projects and plans for the local Church.

            In his homily, Bishop Olivier reminded the Catholics gathered about the many activities of the Church of St. Joseph being initiated including a health center, a church choir, Catechists and youth formation and so on. “Today I am grateful for the presence of some priests who had carried out activities to help the Church stay alive after the Pol Pot regime until today. In particular,  Fr. Werachai Sri Pramong who had served the Church to the best of his ability. Today, we congregate to praise and glorify God solemnly for He has guided every activity in the Church of St. Joseph for the last 25 years in order to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to all people. Dear brothers and sisters, today we unite with St. Joseph to thank God for the peace in the Church throughout Cambodia,”

            Bishop Olivier also said: “Today we have as many as nine pastoral sectors so we Catholics have to unite with St. Joseph’s church to spread the news of the Gospel to more and more people. At present and in the future, there will be not only louder voices singing songs and praying but will continue with many other activities such as works of Charity and  Mercy in the whole of Phnom Penh.”

            Mrs. Leng Sony, one of the parishioners, said she was very happy that the Church in Cambodia has initiated activities again, especially the local Church in Phsar Toich today. “We observe the fruits we received in terms of the increasing number of Catholics every year. Activities have shown a lot of love in society and the construction of new buildings are taking shape.  Activities in spreading the news of the Gospel by the Church has brought back lapsed Catholics who abandoned the church and now have joined our family of Catholics again. It is hoped that we all unite to praise God and make the Good News of God known in a wider manner,”

            Please be informed that St. Joseph’s Church is located at # 1788B, St. 5,  Toul Sangke district, Khan Russey Keo, in Phnom Penh.  Church’s activities that have been carried out are due to the presence of five priests – the late Bishop Emile Destombes,  Frs.Werachai, Bob Piché, Bruno Cosme and Chhatsirey. More photos


Phnom Penh: The congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary was established in 1832 in France. Unfortunately the group has now been disbanded this year, 2017.  Sr. Anne Marie Gallice, the person in charge of the group in Cambodia said: “Because our group has only old people in France, there were no youth willing to take the veil in our group and so the Mother House in Rome has asked us to discontinue activities here in Cambodia. At present in France almost all the nuns are old and the youngest of them is me who is 69 years old and another nun.  There are even nuns much older than me.”

                        The congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary had carried out pastoral missions in Asia and Africa. The group was set up in Cambodia in 1993 and it used to have missions in the refugee camps on the Cambodia-Thailand border for a number of years with Sr. Zilbel Mason who had performed humanitarian works.

            Sr. Anne Marie recounted that the mission of the congregation in each country was to use their own skills and capacities in order to serve God and the local Church.  Those pastoral activities included education on the essence of the Catholic faith, helping out the churches here and other humanitarian works like helping poor families and helping children in their studies and so on.

            In Cambodia, the congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary comprises three members including Srs. Anne Marie Gallice, Zilbet Mason, a French national and Khem Sokha, the youngest Cambodian national.  Sr. Anne Marie said that the news about disbanding the group, was very painful for her. The nun said in a sad voice: “It’s really painful, especially for Sr. Khem Sokha. It’s like abandoning a child for me. However what we are praying every morning at Mass and remembering the story of Abraham. God had called him at the age of 100 and he answered with a “yes”. I now have to say yes too. What I know is that God also loves me and Sokha. ”

            Sr. Anne Marie left Cambodia on 3rd October 2017, while Sr. Zilbet Mason has now been hospitalized with ​cancer in France. Sr. Khem Sokha will leave the house of the congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary and will promote vocations among a group from South Korea based in Pursat province as of 4th October 2017.

            Upon arriving in France, Sr. Anne Marie will be tasked with taking responsibility for the congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary among the old nuns where some of them are very ill.  According to the nun, “Before I go to the house I am looking forwards to helping the nuns who have been complaining about their pains. However, every day I pray, asking God to give strength to the sisters in Cambodia and Africa.”           

In Cambodia, the congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary had established an organization of  neophytes in order to assist poor families so that their children will receive studies at state-run schools. The organization is also helping the parishes in the Diocese of Phnom Penn in catechetical programmes and compiling catechetical books for catechumens.  The organization even accommodates female youth by helping in their studies who are from high schools and universities.  Its presence of over 20 years in Cambodia has made it well known to most of the Catholics. Sr. Zilbet had worked along with Fr. François Ponchaud, the former director of the center for Catechetical programmes in Cambodia.

            The nun said that the organization of   neophytes is still continuing its mission because the organization has a person in charge along with other staff. The nun added that there is only one person to help the organization with financial contribution. However, accommodating the youth will be suspended from next year, while other works are due to be stopped this year.

            Sr. Khem Sokha, the new nun of more than two years decided to seek vocations for religious life. The nun said: “I feel the group is like my own family. I do not know clearly why I go or stay so that I can learn to understand God’s call for me to be here or not.”

“I have to be joyful and hopeful and I even have to trust God even though God did not shut down the congregation, He did not end my vocation no matter where He takes me; I answer a yes and follow it. Dear brothers and sisters please pray for me,” the nun concluded. 


Sihanoukville: “My Success”, the theme of a camp for young scouts in the Diocese of Phnom Penh. The Pastoral Office for Youth and Children of the Diocese ran the seminar three days from 29 September to 1 October 2017. The camp was held at the parish of St. Michael in the city with some 200 children attending.

            Fr. Un Son, the priest in charge of the pastoral sector in Kampong Som delivered a welcome speech to all children participating and also thanked leaders of the children for devoting their time to helping the program along with the Church.  The priest said, "Our Church is for educating the youth and the leaders of the diocese.”

            Fr. Un Son also encouraged them by saying: “Each one of us can have a relationship with God from childhood to death, which is important to know about. It is like all the brothers and sisters who have been called to be leaders of the young scouts in order to serve other children at the parish.”

        They also organized a Mass to conclude the camp with Fr. Un Son as the main celebrant. In his homily the priest instructed all leaders telling them to try hard to practice their faith rather than knowing more theory.  “May all of us be good at doing things rather than just speaking. Without putting what we have heard into practice, what we have heard would have been fruitless. Don’t forget everything that other people do for you but remember to do everything that God does to you for everyone. All the leaders have to be mindful of the children under the programme for the young scouts,” Fr.  Un Son continued.

            Mr. Sorn Sareoun,  a coordinator of the programme said: “This is the time when all the leaders receive more education on new topics and put them into practice at their parish. This has also continued helping the young scouts, especially children who have been less cared for and children who are free on Saturdays and Sundays.”

            The coordinator thanked the leaders for dedicating their time to help the young scouts in the entire diocese through teaching and instruction.  The leaders from nine pastoral sectors of the diocese also thanked and said that during the three days of the camp, they had learnt a lot especially in giving instructions to scouts in each place so that the children can be joyful.

            Moreover, they have exchanged personal experiences with one another in what they had and received for educating and handling the young scouts. The leaders are determined to put it into practice what they received from the programme and also try hard to lead the children to do things in the programme to always make progress.

            The leaders also thanked the Pastoral Office for youth and Children of the diocese of Phnom Penh for making efforts to plan new lessons and topics for them.  


            The programme for the young scouts of the Diocese of Phnom Penh was initiated at Our Lady of the Smiles parish in Takeo province’s Chamka Tieng village in the year 2003 under guidance of the then-Fr. Olivier Schmittaeusler, the priest in charge of the pastoral sector of Takeo and Kampot.  More photos


 Phnom Penh: On 27 September eighteen members from the protestant churches, the Catholic Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered togetherto have a fellowship meal for harmonization of the denominations. The main guest of honour was His Excellency Senior Minister Him Chhem of the Ministry of Cult and Religion.

In his opening welcoming speech, Mr. Edword Daov, a representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints praised the leadership of the Ministry of Cult and Religion for religious harmonyy in Cambodia.   The representative said that the purpose of the gathering was  to have a fellowship meal, to demonstrate love, and was an opportunity to get to know each other better and to support each other.

Inter-religious dialogue in Cambodia has always been held under various guises including a face-to-face meeting with Premier Hun Sen .   His Excellency Him Chhem said that religions help people live in peace and harmony.  He went on to say: “Today’s gathering is not only a  meal but an opportunity also, for the promotion of peace and harmony as taught by Jesus, your God. In our world, those who believe love peace. Nothing is better than peace. Cambodia had experienced a bitter civil war, and there had been little or no opportunity for a meeting such as today.”

His Excellency also prayed to Jesus saying: “May all of us be filled with peace. May we love, be friendly with one another, and unite to maintain peace and harmony  in Cambodia.” More photos


Kampot: The pastoral sector in Kampot-Kep held a ceremony in memory of the departed during the traditional Khmer Pchum Ben festival at the old Cathedral site in the resort of the Bokor Mountain. Some 200 Catholics attended the ceremony on 19 September 2017.

            The Catholic Church in Cambodia was given permission by the Holy See to celebrate the event on the occasion of the Pchum Ben festival for the departed  in the traditional Khmer style. The event falls on 01, November every year, which coincides with the Catholic Church calendar worldwide.

            In his homily, Fr. Tavola Gianluca, the priest in charge of the sector said: “This festival is the day when we remember the departed. We have to be always prepared because we do not know when God will call us to Him. So we have to be vigilant always and keep the light of love burning.”

            “Our brothers and sisters who had passed away make us know that at present they are very joyful because heaven is likened to a happily party. So, we hope the departed are enjoying the joy from God. We have to pray and ask God that He receives our brothers and sisters who left the world for His Kingdom,” the priest continued.

            The parish priest also emphasised: “We are lucky to celebrate the feast at the Cathedral because last year our brothers and sisters came to perform the ritual here. Today when you pray for your ancestors, please take a look at the image of Jesus showing His mercy and love of God. May God receive our  prayers, our wishes for the good of our departed ancestors.”

            After Holy Mass concluded, the priest told the worshippers to take all the offerings and collections to the Cathedral and offer them to God. The faithful then took the offerings of food for a fellowship meal together in a pleasant atmosphere. More photos


 Phnom Penh: Eighty four children between 8 and 13 years of age from the Churches of Phsar Toich, Areyksat, Sen Sok and Kilometer 11 gathered to participate in a camp. The camp was organized at St.  Joseph’s parish in Phsar Touch with the theme “Good Children, Good Students and Good Friends.”  The camp took place from 7 to 10 September 2017 and it was headed and faciliated by Fr. Roeung Chhat Sirey, the priest in charge of the pastoral sector in northern Phnom Penh.

            Fr. Chhat Sirey said that the camp was intended to educate both children and youth with the representatives of the youth managing and coordinating the programme for the northen Phnom Penh pastoral sector.  The priest continued by saying that  he had seen the youth open their heart wide in cooperating with what he had proposed, namely: the abandoning of selfishness, irresponsbility, misunderstandings  and to have a forgiving heart.

            As for the children, the local Church chose the topic for them with the aim of helping them with better understading the way of life in family and in relatinships in society alike.  The priest added that because the family is the basic foundation of the Church, the needs of  people in the Year of the Family of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh was to help the children know about what they need to do  in the family and in society.

            Fr. Chhat Sirey emphasised: “The importance of the topic is education in the Church because we have Jesus as the Great Master and we are the students. We have not only the Father as a good father and we are the children but also we have Jesus, who did not consider us His servants but  His friends.”

             Pich Chanpidau from the Church in Phsar Toich said that this was the first time that she had participated in the camp and some showed much interest in prayers, games, the story of Jesus and relationships with one another.

            Pich Chanpidau have understood more about the topic. She said:  “ A good child has to be obedient to his/her parents. A good friend has to help each other with solidarity  and he/she even leads one another to do good deeds in society. A good student has to obey his/her teacher, who are our second parents.”

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