ASIA/CAMBOGIA - Inauguration of new Catholic technical training school and comprehensive Care Centre for people with AIDS named after Pope John Paul II

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Phnom Penh (Fides Service) - To mark the 450th anniversary of its foundation this year, the Catholic community in Cambodia has a new professional Training School and a Centre for AIDS patients both recently inaugurated by the papal nuncio to Cambodia Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio.
On 26 February accompanied by Bishop Emile Destombes the Vicar Apostolic of Phnom Penh, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio went to Chomkartieng where he was welcomed by the parish priest Fr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler (MEP Paris Foreign Missions) and the parish community. The Nuncio presided a solemn mass attended by over 600 people. In the afternoon in the presence of civil and religious authorities he inaugurated the new school, St Francis technical training college. The school will take about 100 students for three year courses in agriculture, silk production and business management. During the ceremony the state authorities voiced appreciation and gratitude to the local Catholic Church, the Pope and the Holy See.
The next day, 27 February, Archbishop Pennacchio went to visit the John Paul II Life Centre for Life in a place about 20km from Kampot called Kep where two years ago Fr Schmitthaeusler began to care for families with members suffering from AIDS. The new large Centre includes homes for families with HIV+ members who receive treatment at the Centre, a school for the children. Each family has its own plot of land for growing fruit and vegetables and the Centre recently started silk production as a means of self-funding.
During the inauguration ceremony the director of the Centre, himself HIV+ who resumed normal life thanks to proper healthcare, thanked the Catholic Church for this initiative and expressed gratitude on behalf of all the people at the Centre. The Nuncio for his part reconfirmed the Catholic Church’s commitment to assisting the sick and promoting respect for human life from the moment of conception to natural end, recalling the unforgettable teaching and example of Pope John Paul II especially in his last years, aged and suffering, but strong in faith and love to the very end. The ceremony ended with the unveiling of a life size statue of the late Pope amidst warm applause and genuine emotion of all present. (Agenzia Fides 1/3/2006 righe 27 parole 283)