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Cambodian Catholic youth serves church despite life challenges

“I never stop serving the church and leave my faith,” says Sarouen Sorn, a Catholic youth in Cambodia.

Many people told Sorn that, working for the church has not much benefit for his life and family but the man refused to accept that idea and decided to serve the way he can do for the kingdom of God.

“Despite the criticism, even if they are not satisfied, I understand that the path I have chosen and the path I am walking is right,” said Sorn, a coordinator of Youth, Adult and Children Office of Phnom Penh Vicariate.

Sorn said many people told him "Work in the church is not very useful. The salary is not enough to feed the stomach." However, he said it was a service to God and the work he loved.

With his work as an employee of the community since 2010, Sorn started working with this office with the hope that he can help other young people to know God and the value of their lives.

"I have a lot of work and am busy all week, and every Saturday and Sunday there are seminars in different communities," said the 30-year-old Catholic.

The Youth, Adult, and Children Office organizes workshops related to youth's work. It helps them make decisions and have the right relationship in society, including hygiene.

Sarouen Sorn leads a workshop with young people in Saint Peter and Paul Church in Phnom Penh Vicariate, Cambodia. (Photo supplied)

Sorn was born in Tram Kak district, Takeo province, growing up in a Buddhist family. In 1998, he got to know the Catholic community through his uncle, a Catholic.

He was baptized in the Church of the Smile of Mary (Chamka Tieng) in 2003.

Sorn said that before "As a child, he was not interested in social work or not eager in helping others, but after getting to know the Catholic community, I changed to help others, love others and love to serve others."

Whether he was familiar with the new religion or not yet deeply rooted in Christ, the small, fair-skinned man said, "I think this is the right place for me."

Cambodia has a minority Catholic community. Most Catholics were converted from other religions.

Sorn now has a small family with three daughters and a Buddhist wife. "I always talk to my wife about getting our children baptized. And recently, my children also received communion for the first time,” he added.

Sarauen Sorn and his wife (Photo supplied)

Although he does not have much time for his family because of mutual faith and encouragement among family, his wife goes to church every Sunday together.

The office coordinator added that he has a lot of work to do every day, such as office work, family work, and sometimes socializing. Sometimes it is difficult, complicated and he tired. However, he stated, "Because of the power of God, I have always been able to keep going and not give up, no matter what the circumstances are."

“Every time, I listened to scripture, listened to a priest preaching, and sat quietly to pray, I forgot all my anxiety and sorrows. And I understand that Jesus is always with us in all that we do,” he said.

“Each of our lives is connected with prayer as it is necessary to have a close relationship with God. He will help us to overcome temptations and help our faith to grow day by day, too,” Sorn told RVA Khmer News Service.

"I have decided from the beginning until today, I have never thought of quitting the church’s work and giving up the faith,” he added.

He said that he enjoys the Catholic way of life, enjoys and serves everyone in the name of Jesus Christ, and enjoys sharing the faith, love, and hope to every person, especially with the younger generation who want to know about Jesus.

"I am very proud that I am a Catholic who can contribute to the Kingdom of God," he said.

(With inputs from Lang Chhak)


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.