Phnom Penh (Agenzia Fides) - "In this month of October, dedicated by the Mission Church, our hearts are filled with gratitude. It is the month of gratitude. We are grateful to God for his love and for his gifts Gratitude is the source of mission", says Msgr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler (MEP), Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, on his return from the church of Kampong Cham (in eastern Cambodia), where on October 1, the feast of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, patroness of the missions, a Solemn Eucharist was held for the inauguration of the new Apostolic Prefect of Kampong Cham, Bishop Pierre Suon Hangly, Cambodia's first indigenous bishop. The Prefect succeeds two missionaries, Fr. Bruno Cosme, Apostolic Administrator for three years, and Fr. Antonysamy Susairaj, Apostolic Prefect for 22 years. In the meantime, Bishop Schmitthaeusler has organized a mass of thanksgiving which will be presided over by Bishop Ly in his native parish in the Vicariate of Phnom Penh.
The inauguration celebration in Kampong Cham took place in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Paul Tschang In-Nam, the Cambodian and Laotian bishops, 60 priests from the three ecclesiastical circumscriptions of Cambodia (the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh and the Apostolic Prefectures of Battambang and Kampong Cham), men and women religious, and a large assembly of the faithful. "This is a historic event for the local Church, it is an important step. It is a great joy for the Cambodian community", commented Fr. Bruno Cosme, who led the Prefecture where there are a total of 21 priests, including Cambodians, missionaries from PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), Vincentians and missionaries from Mill Hill, Korean, Italian and Indian priests, as well as two fidei donum priests, one Ecuadorian and one French.
The new Apostolic Prefect declared to the assembly: "My first desire is to know the Church and the territory well. We will meet every month, to pray together. There are many priests and religious ready to help in this new mission. Then, I would like to help the prefecture to evangelize in the provinces where there are ethnic minorities, like in Rotanah Kiri, by bringing the first proclamation of Christ".
Born in 1972, Father Hangly was ordained a priest in 2001 in Phnom Penh. He studied in Paris from 2007 to 2015 and returned to Cambodia in July 2015 as
parish priest in Phnom Penh Thmey, before becoming delegate of the Vicariate of Phnom Penh and then Superior of the local seminary.
Bishop Schmitthaeusler takes advantage of this event to return to the theme of gratitude, central to this month of October: "We are grateful to God for this gift. We now have a new Cambodian Bishop, a few months after a new indigenous priest Jean-Baptiste Bun Prak Hong, the tenth. It is a joy for the local Church which is growing slowly. We are grateful for the presence of the missionaries who have helped us in the past and who still accompany us today on our journey towards the Kingdom of God. We are grateful to God and to the arms of the volunteers, in whom He makes Himself present, for all the works of charity that the Church accomplishes. Our mission flows from gratitude to God. We have been 'merciful and saved', by the initiative of God: we live filled and supported by a joyful gratitude towards Him: this is evangelization. If Christ died and rose again for us, our hearts yearn to live with him and for him. Gratitude is, after all, a manifestation of love that comes from God himself. We thank God for the gifts he offers us on our way, which we travel with a mind open to the surprises of God and trusting in his Providence. This alone we can proclaim and bear witness to. It is in this spirit that we live the Missionary Month. In prayer which is relationship with the Lord, in fraternity and charity which is relationship with neighbour". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 4/10/2022)