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11 Khmer ethnic minorities ask to join Catholic community in Cambodia

11 Ethnic Khmer ethnic community members with Father Borei Phan, Father Alessandro Motti and the catechist teachers (Photo: RVA News)

A group of Khmer ethnic minorities has shown interest to embrace the Catholic faith in Cambodia.

As many as 11 Punong ethnic candidates knocked on the Church’s door to enter the parish with the welcome of Father Borei Phan and Father Alessandro Motti, along with many other Catholics on June 19.

The event took place at St. James-Dak Dam in Dak Dam Commune, Oreang District, Mondulkiri Province, about 266 Km from Phnom Penh city, the capital of Cambodia.

During the ceremony, Father Phan asked many questions to clarify the candidates’ will regarding the occult, witchcraft, sorcery and bad spirit but changed to hope in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The 11 said loudly that they were willing to give up all old beliefs and turn to God for all eternity.

"The reason I asked to enter the church is that I have changed my life from suffering to a life of offering to spirit worship, and I want to change my life by giving my life to Jesus Christ,” said the 15-year-old Salan Sron, an eighth-grade student. 

Salan added that she will share the gospel of God with others who do not know yet, and love her neighbors as she loves herself and love God with all their heart, soul and strength.

"The proclamation of the gospel is to visit and live our lives as good Catholics," Salan said.

People who want to be Catholic need to learn about faith for at least one and half years or two years. 

This program is the first step for people who want to know Christ and want to be Catholic. After that, they will take the second step which will be next year before Easter. Then on Easter Day, they will receive baptism. This is the catechist program of the church in Cambodia. 

Chun Prich, a Catechism teacher in the community, said that the catechumen program is mostly attended by young people, while the previous sessions were more elderly. 

He added that they are villagers living nearby and in neighboring communes.

"They believed in sickness, lack of self-reliance because in the past they offered sacrifices, but now they lack sacrifices, so they sought Jesus instead," said Chun.

"I can only hope that (the parish) will be able to grow. However, for me as a catechist teacher, I will try to find words and meaning to explain to them despite many challenges.” 

The Church of St. James of Dak Dam was founded in 1986 by about five Catholic families who had returned from Vietnam due to the country's civil war.

The church now has more than 100 members, and the regular church attendance is about 80-90 percent of the people. This is according to the words of Father Borei Phan, the person in charge of this community. - Kagnha Keo/Khemer Service 

 

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