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Youths on pilgrimages to deepen faith in Cambodia 

group photo of youth pigrimage_Song Kimheng-CSC

As many as 240 young people embarked on a three-day pilgrimage on foot from March 1–3 to deepen their faith in Cambodia.

Pilgrims from the seven provinces and cities of the Phnom Penh diocese began at Treng Trayeung Parish. They traveled 100 km southwest to Preah Suramarit Kosamak Kirirom National Park Sruoch, in Kampong Speu province.

Mr. San Saroeun, a program coordinator, explained that the "Come and you will see" theme encourages young people to journey with Jesus while gaining new experiences by making new friends and listening to the bishop's formation to regain the strength to continue living their faith daily.

Additionally, he urged the young people to give back to their community and the parish there, to practice their faith at work, and to do good deeds for those who are less fortunate than themselves.

During the pilgrimage, the youth, along with the bishop, priests, and nuns, walked about 12 kilometers up Mount Kirirom. All participants received formation in two parts from Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler of Phnom Penh.

In the first part, before leaving by the walk, the bishop reminded the young people who are in catechumen, as well as the Catholics, to recall the first day of each journey with Jesus. He explained that Jesus, who is resurrected, lives and travels with us, transforming us into a people of hope.

In 2024, the bishop reminded young people to pay attention and pray like Jesus. Silence like Mary, remembering the events in her heart. To worship like the Magi who came to worship the child Jesus. At the outset, Bishop Olivier assured the youth that we are now walking with Jesus, our friend, and with the Holy Spirit to give us strength.

Participants, the bishop, priests, and nuns start the walk after the cross. Despite the hot weather, some individuals persevered through injuries and pain, praying with a rosary until reaching a stop station approximately 6 km away, where everyone rested and listened to the second formation.

In the second part, the bishop led the participants to think about their lives growing up with God. He said God created man to have a relationship with Him and interact with other people for happiness. He said, "Let every man believe that Jesus is with me. He is by my side.” Faith means "I give my whole life to God."

Bishop Olivier instructed the participants to pay attention to Jesus in their lives. 1) Believe and imagine with faith that God created all things. Through those things, we see the presence of God. 3) Consider looking at your daily life, morning through evening, for things that fail as a life. The only thing that is successful and easy is to thank God for making the program. 4). Use short prayers and ask, "O God, please help." O God, have mercy on me. In other words, thank him. 5) Take time to adore the body of Christ and meditate. 6) Both morning and evening, please pray. 7) Decoration: when praying with candles, you must have a rosary or cross in the bag. 8) Take time to look at the people and the world that God created. Finally, he reminded us to please be kind and compassionate to others, especially the little ones.        

After that, the pilgrims continued to walk for about 6 kilometers. They stayed there. During the night, there are prayers around the fire, and the next morning, they celebrate the Eucharist. Bishop Olivier also purifies the individuals who will be baptized on Easter Day.

During the Lent season in Cambodia, adults participating in the catechumen program must undergo a purification ceremony to fulfill their wishes, renounce their previous beliefs, and embark on a new life in the church.

At the start of the first week of Lent season, the Catholic communities in Cambodia had 343 people ready for baptism, including 185 in Phnom Penh vicariate, 61 in Battambang prefecture, and 97 in Kampong Cham prefecture.

This is the 13th youth pilgrimage, organized by the Pastoral Office for Youth, Teenagers, and Children of the Phnom Penh vicariate.-  Sovanna LY


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