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Cambodian Catholic Church Head and Delegation Visit Shj

A delegation from Cambodia, led by the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh visited the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SHJ), Kuala Lumpur on 28 July 2017.

Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler MEP, aged 47, who heads the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh, Fr. Damien MEP, Cambodian Fr. Ly and their 49 Cambodian lay Catholics (aged 25 to 60 years old) were greeted by SHJ parish priest, Fr. Edwin Peter.

The entourage were on an exposure programme to Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Earlier they visited Kuala Lumpur Archbishop, His Grace Julian Leow and stayed at APC during their stay here in Kuala Lumpur. The delegation also visited the HIV Centre in Batu Arang, Selangor. The visitors participated in the Chaplet and Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, prior to the 7pm Mass, which was presided by Fr. Edwin, with Bishop Olivier, Fr. Ly and Fr. Damien concelebrating. Joining in were some 70 parishioners of SHJ, including members from Fondacio Malaysia.

Fr. Edwin, in his sermon mentioned the First Reading about the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). The promised people, came out of slavery from Egypt, like some of our migrant workers here, who are not paid salary. The diocesan priest went on to say that sometimes we find ourselves living out what we learnt as children. We need to live in the present and not the past. But we should not blindly adapt or adopt, we need to exercise discernment aligning it to our faith. As for the Gospel (Matthew 13:18-23), Fr. Edwin quoted the Parable of the Sower. Speaking about Cambodia's dark side (the genocide that left 1.7 million Khmers dead), Fr. Edwin also mentioned that he visited Cambodia 10 years ago.

After Mass, the clergy, with Bishop Olivier and the Cambodian delegation posed for a group photo below the sanctuary, before adjourning for a simple fellowship at the church courtyard. Joining them was Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam and some SHJ parishioners. Bishop Olivier who has been in Cambodia for 19 years, and Fr. Damien, are both French. They are missionaries sent to Cambodia, under their Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP).

After dinner, the Cambodian priests and delegates attended a briefing by Fondacio Malaysia, held at Bangunan Dominic Vendargon (the parish Community Centre). The briefing by members of Fondacio Malaysia was about their activities, namely the Youth Leadership and Development Centre (YLDC) which aims to reach out to the local poor, migrants and refugees, elaborating on the skills provided such as conversational English & Computer literacy which will help them find jobs and have a decent livelihood in Kuala Lumpur. Among the Cambodian delegation was Mr. Sovanna, who is the Director of Social Communication, National Office in Cambodia.

The Cambodian delegation travelled to Penang on July 29 & 30, to attend St. Anne’s feast, and to meet up with Bishop of Penang, H.E. Sebastian Francis.

There are about 20,000 Catholics in Cambodia which represent only 0.15% of the total population. There are no dioceses, but there are three territorial jurisdictions – one Apostolic Vicariate and two Apostolic Prefectures. According to Bishop Olivier, there are 200 missionaries from 25 nationalities including 10 MEP priests currently serving in Cambodia.

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