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Laos’ priest ordained in hospital bed 51 days ago dies in Philippines

Father Khamsan Mim Khounthichak from Laos died in Manila, the Philippines, on August 2, 2022. (Photo supplied)

The priest from Laos, ordained in a hospital bed in Manila in June, died on August 2.

Father Khamsan Mim Khounthichak, a young Laotian from the Apostolic Vicariate of Pakse, was suffering from end-stage cancer. He was a priest for 51 days.

He passed away at the infirmary of St Vincent School of Theology, Quezon City, Philippines, Father Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, a professor of theology, told RVA News.

On August 3, the body of Father Khamsan was cremated, and the wake schedule will be announced soon, Father Pilario said.

On June 13, Bishop Rolando Crisostomo Santos of the Alotau-Sideia diocese in Papua New Guinea ordained him a priest at his request and with the special permission of Pakse’s bishop. 

Khamsan was a young leader in his Laos diocese when he came to Manila in 2008 to study theology with the Fondacio community, an international Christian movement whose members come from various cultural backgrounds to provide youth education and social development projects for poor communities.

He later studied theology at Adamson University in Manila. As his graduation date approached in May 2022, he began to experience back pain and difficulty walking. Following several medical examinations, he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and was in the final stages of the disease.

Given his circumstances, the seminarian was allowed to have his priestly ordination performed in the hospital room where he was receiving treatment. The entire Ordination Rite took place in his bed.

According to a friend, Father Trieu Pham Minh, Khamsan was imprisoned twice by the Laotian government for teaching the faith in the local parish.

"Father Khamsan’s vocation was unique in his diocese and the Laos Church. However, in light of God's call, he wishes to bear fruit differently, in response to the desire to be a priest and live a holy life," Minh added.

The tiny Catholic Church of Laos has just 60,000 members, mostly ethnic Vietnamese and Hmong, in a country of 7.2 million inhabitants.

The Apostolic Vicariate of Pakse, which includes the provinces of Champasak, Saravan, Xeguang, and Attapu, has a population of approximately 1.37 million people. Pakse has over 15,000 Catholics spread across 46 parishes and mission stations.

There are four bishops but no dioceses in Laos, and Catholics are served by four apostolic vicariates. 


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