End-stage cancer did not deter a young Laotian seminarian from realizing his dream of becoming a priest. Deacon Khamsan Mim Khounthichak was ordained a priest on his sickbed by Bishop Rolando Santos in Manila on June 13, the feast of St Anthony of Padua.
Mass was said by the bishop of Alotau-Sideia diocese in Papua New Guinea using a small table as an altar in the hospital room. During the Mass, the prelate raised Deacon Khamsan from Laos to the priesthood by laying his hands on the ordinand’s head and anointing his palms with holy oil. His Vietnamese priest and friend Fr Trieu Pham Minh said in a Facebook post that the “vocation of this new priest is a special and rare vocation for his diocese and for the Church of Laos”.
Hailing from the Apostolic Vicariate of Pakse in Laos, Fr Khamsan used to serve as a young lay leader. It was in 2008 that he first came to Manila for a one-year training in Theology with the Fondacio community, which is a global initiative of Christians connected with the Charismatic renewal. During his stint as a lay leader in Laos, Khamsan served the marginalized in the border areas.
He used to help them on the farms and prayed with them. Khamsan also baptized their babies in the absence of priests. However, his pastoral activities did not go down well with the communist authorities so much so that he was imprisoned twice.
In 2018, he felt the calling to the priesthood and returned to Manila to join the St Vincent School of Theology to begin his priestly studies. Last month, when he was supposed to graduate, Brother Khamsan experienced an excruciating backache. He was diagnosed with end-stage spinal cord cancer. Although he was hospitalized, he still cherished the desire to become a priest. Realizing his zeal, his bishop agreed to expedite the ordination.
There are only 66,000 Catholics in the nation of seven million and they are spread across four apostolic vicariates. - Shalom World
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