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New church built as Catholic community grows in Cambodia

Msgr Pirre Hanly SUON, apostolic prefect of Kampong Cham bless the stone which took from other churches in Kampong Cham Prefecture_Rethy CSC Kampong Cham.

Msgr. Pierre Hangly Suon, apostolic prefect of Kampong Cham, presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the new church building in Keo Seima Community, Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia, on February 1.

Priests and sisters, in addition to up to 150 Catholics from various communities in the Mondulkiri region, attended the Thanksgiving Mass.

In his sermon, Msgr. Suon informed the Catholic congregation about the construction of a church in response to the increasing number of Catholics attending.

He expected that the construction of the new church would attract more people who would actively participate in proclaiming the gospel and contribute to the growth of the parish.

The Catholic Pnong ethnic group inhabits the Keo Seima community, which is located about 90 km from Sen Monorom town in Mondulkiri province. At present, there are 70 Catholics and 15 catechists.

He further stated that when discussing community building, we continue to refer to bishops and priests as apostles, but Catholics should be with a church committee, and priests should find ways to demonstrate God's presence to everyone in their vicinity.

"Let our church be a light of the grace of God to those around us, that they may know Christ and be saved from him," said Msgr. Suon.

Fr. Jean Marie Vianney Borei Phan, a priest in charge of the Mondulkiri communities, said in early 2009 that people from Keo Seima went to Vietnam, where they spent almost a year with a Catholic community and saw how the people living with faith helped the sick and poor.

At the end of December 2009, two families converted to Catholicism, and on January 11, 2010, they met with the priest in charge in Mondulkiri province. He added that until 2016, the government had allowed us to build a temporary church for Mass and do some activities.

Msgr. Soun laid two stones during the groundbreaking ceremony, the first of which was transported from the village of Gati, a new location where catechism classes began in Mondulkiri, and the second from the Nak Loeung parish in Banam, which is one of the oldest parishes in the Kampong Cham prefecture and is 160 years old.

According to Mr. Minh Yek, the individual overseeing the construction of the Keo Seima church building, the structure measures 17 meters in width by 32 meters in length, and its completion will require nearly a year.

Fr. John Baptist Prak Bunhong, the inaugural Pnong ethnic priest, and his priest assistant, Fr. Jean Marie Vianney Borei Phan, will assume the role of overseers at the newly constructed St. Joseph Keo Seima Church.

The Phnong ethnic communities residing in Mondolkiri are agriculturalists and constitute the majority faith.


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