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Bishop urges priests, nuns and catechists to teach faith to students in Cambodia

Phnom Penh Vicariate Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler addresses catechism teachers in Cambodia on October 14, 2022 (Photo by RVA News)

A bishop in Cambodia urged priests, nuns and catechists to guide students to understand faith better.

"Catechism teachers need to create a conducive atmosphere for children to know faith better and community with a proper relationship with God," Phnom Penh Vicariate Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler said on October 14.

Over 40 catechist teachers met at St. Francis Xavier Church (Champa), about 20 km from the capital in Kien Svay district, Kandal province. The bishop asked all catechist teachers, along with priests and nuns, to guide their students to understand faith in God. 

All community activities, including prayer and Mass, are to connect with other Catholics and God, the prelate said. 

As a catechism teacher, "We need to plan how to get children to know God." This was stated by Ms. Vanny Chhay Eng, 26, from Tuol Krasang parish in Bassac pastoral district.
She said that teachers must create an atmosphere for students to be happy and united and participate in all parish activities so that they can understand faith well and love God. 
Vong Bopha, 23, another faith mentor at St. Francis Xavier Church (Champa) in the Mekong pastoral district, said the catechist teachers should set an example for scholars. 
She expressed that the daily activities that teachers do must be full of love and joy, which are the hallmarks of God.
Bopha added, "To guide believers in a close relationship with God, we must bring them to prayer."
Father Sripramong Werachai, the priest in charge of the Mekong pastoral district, said that the current catechism class has changed a lot in line with the pedagogy in the Cambodian community.
He said that the catechist committee encourages the use of three catechism books that guide the life of the disciple, such as "I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life."
The priest said, "Because students know both Khmer and Vietnamese, it is easy to educate our children in the way of the Catholic catechism in Cambodia, which is our hope as leaders of the Mekong and Bassac pastoral districts to enter the environment of God." 

Group photo of catechism teachers, priests and bishop Olivier (Photo by RVA News)

The Mekong and Bassac pastoral districts are mostly Catholic Vietnamese communities in Cambodia. 
The catechism class was mixed up with both Khmer and Vietnamese for students to understand more about faith.
He added that in these two pastoral districts where there are many young catechist teachers, the strength of the church is that priests are to motivate, encourage, educate, and listen to their needs to improve the modern catechism class for community growth, and the catechist teachers must meet at least once a month with the priests.
During this half-day, all faith educators shared their experiences and listened to the strengths and weaknesses of each community, which they can apply to their catechism class in the future.
Before concluding the program, Bishop Olivier asked catechism mentors to declare their commitment as teachers for 2022–2023, bowing before God and asking God to give them the Holy Spirit to guide them to understand the faith and to love the community and love God. 


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