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God’s transformation: 2 women from Buddhist backgrounds become Catholic nuns in Cambodia

Kanha KHEAN (left) and Sreylay DOT (right) on the first profession day on September 14, 2022. (Photo by Sovanna LY-RVAKher)

Two women who came from Buddhist backgrounds became Catholic nuns on September 14. 

"God has transformed our lives into meaningful lives." This is what Monsignor Pierre Suon Hangly, the apostolic prefect of Kampong Cham, Cambodia, said in his homily to the two young women.

"May you be a beautiful vessel from God that guides the people who see our lives, see what we do, and want to know God," said Hangly.

The apostolic prefect explained that the clay was not very valuable, but when the potter made a beautiful pot out of it, it turned out to be valuable.

The two women are Clara Sreylay DOT and Clara Kanha KHEAN, who came from Buddhist families at Koh Raka Krao in Kampong Cham province, about 123 km from the capital. The nuns joined the Lovers of the Holy Cross in Kampong Cham prefecture.

Kampong Cham Prefecture covers eight provinces, including Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, and Mondulkiri.

Msgr. Hangly said that responding to the call was difficult, with three promises: to live as a single person, to live in poverty, and to obey the head of the superior in the congregation.

He explained that this vow is a difficult promise in an era where people are competing with each other; they want more wealth, honor, and a prosperous family in society.

"To live a simple life like Jesus is both a weakness and humility. Humility inspires others to want to know God, and it brings God honor in carrying out His special mission to those we meet every day," the prelate said.

He also encouraged the more than 200 Catholics who were present at the ceremony to live by presenting God so that they could see and seek God, and then they could meet Him through missionary activities in service to others. 

Clara Sreylay DOT makes her first vow (Photo by Sovanna LY)

The ceremony took place in the Kampong Cham parish. 

Both candidates knelt in front of the altar opposite the superior and promised to obey for their whole life.

The Lovers of the Holy Cross were founded by Bishop Pierre Lambert de la Motte, a French missionary, in 1670 in Tonkin, Vietnam, and later in Cochinchina and other parts of Southeast Asia.

The clergy currently has eight Cambodian native members, including a new member who has just been sworn in.

Sister Sangwat ANG, superior of the Lovers of the Holy Cross presents the cross to the new nun (Photo by Sovanna LY RVAKhmer)

Sister Sangwat ANG, a superior of the congregation in Cambodia, says the two new nuns need to learn more about community service, serving the poor, and living as a community.

The nun stressed, "Those are the things that they have to prepare themselves for. Life is full of challenges, but I encourage them to keep going because the most important thing is between them and God."

The main purpose of this congregation was to spread the Good News to others through the work of educating the faith and social development in the community, living a venerated life, and collaborating with local priests where the members live.

Clara Sreylay DOT, the new nun, said that today she was happy that the dream of becoming a servant of the church as a nun, living life as a poor, obedient, and living virgin was born.

She added, "I will be ready to participate in the mission of Jesus, following his example of devotion and dedication to him." Kagnha Keo


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