Phnom Penh (Agenzia Fides) - There is great vitality in the Catholic community in Cambodia: on 18 February after the consecration of the new church of St Peter in Pot hon (North of Phnom Penh), the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh announced the blessing of the chapel dedicated to St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the pastoral Center in Preykbas (in the area of Takeo, 60 km south of Phnom Penh). The chapel was consecrated and inaugurated by the Bishop, the Apostolic Vicar Olivier Schmitthaeusler, onFebruary 25.
As reported to Fides by Mgr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, the community of Preykbas is a new Christian community in the Vicariate of Phnom Penh, born in 2012 with the first 14 baptisms.
The Catholic faith in the area of Takeo flourished years ago starting from the presence of only one Christian, Paul Cheang, in the parish of Our Lady of the Smile. At the time, in 2002, Fr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, now Bishop, was the local parish priest. In fifteen years, the community of the baptized has grown and developed a lot: 8 new communities were born in Takeo province, including that of Preykbas. And the expansion continues: the Church in the area of Takeo will have the joy of welcoming 70 new baptized at Easter. Next to them, then there will be others: in the entire Vicariate of Phnom Penh there are overall 155 catechumens who will be baptized at Easter, from 9 pastoral sectors of the Vicariate.
Mgr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, who was happy after the consecration of the new chapel celebration, reminds Fides that "the local community was born after the meeting of Paul Cheang in the village of Preykbas. Since 2009, every Sunday, Paul Cheang taught catechism to some young people". In 2010, Bishop Olivier decided to buy a plot of three hectares (an orchard with mango trees) to build a diocesan pastoral center. Thanks to aid from Thailand, 9 bungalows, a kindergarten and a small chapel dedicated to St. Therese of Lisieux were born on this land. The first chapel was built by young people with mud and straw. "It is a living sign of God's presence near the mountain of Chisor, which overlooks the Cambodian plain and is called to be a light to all those who are hungry for peace and justice", says the Bishop.
The chapel was further enriched by the presence of a relic of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (gift of the Postulator of the cause of beatification to Mgr. Olivier) "placed at the altar to help us to be merciful as our heavenly Father", he adds. The pastoral Center can accommodate up to 50 people and is used as a house for retreats, formation and to take a rest.
"By praying and living the faith among the mango trees, each baptized person can remember that it is called to bear good fruit", says the Apostolic Vicar. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 02/03/2017)