A Cambodian seminarian responds to the call of God to become a Catholic priest.
John Baptist Samnang Vy, a final-year student of theology aspires to be a priest from an early age.
Years ago, one time he entered a church to pray and he saw a priest dressed in a white robe (cassock), which ignited Vy to dream to be a priest, he recalled.
Brother Vy is the son of a Catholic family with one youngest brother living in Chbar Ampov district, Phnom Penh city, the capital of Cambodia.
He knew that the Spirit of God had enlightened him in the life of a priest by loving the priestly clothes from his infancy.
The seminarian said, "I was about 10 years old in 2007. When I went to the church with my parents and saw the priest dressed in a very nice white robe, since then, I wanted to be a priest."
The theology student continued, "As I grow up, I studied at Don Bosco School at Samrong Andet for six years with the love and support of the priests there. After graduating from Grade 12, I went to seminary to gain a deeper understanding of my life as a future priest, whether to choose a life as a diocesan priest or a religious."
Studying at the St. John Marei Vianney seminary gave him plenty of time to learn about Jesus' life, follow him, to build a closer relationship with Jesus through daily prayers and Holy Mass. This time gave a clear answer to Brother Vy to know what God wanted him to do.
Living in a seminary, each of them has different difficulties, but it is important that they try to find solutions and find a way to love and be close to God, he told RVA News.
He described his life experience in the seminary for the past seven years. He studied according to the schedule and principles of the seminary, including four main points: spiritual, intellectual, and community service.
Another challenge was the study of foreign languages and most of the documents were in foreign languages and the seminary does not have enough professors to teach.
Brother Vy confirmed, “Sharing from the older seminarians helped me solve many difficulties for some subjects, overcoming obstacles and trying to pray regularly to make my theological level fruitful to this day."
He also said that another difficulty for him was the opposition from his family and not allowing him to become a priest. At that time, he was the only child in the family and the mother had a health problem. The doctor said she could not conceive the next child.
He said: "Because the Spirit called me, I still dreamed of becoming a priest and tried to pray for my mother to have another child. God soon answered that she had a second child, but suffered from many health problems. Later, my family allowed me to join seminary until today.”
This is the last year at the seminary, and if nothing changes after the evaluation by the bishop, he will be ordained as a deacon and a priest soon.
At the same time, Brother Vy said that young people must be brave, open-minded, have open hearts and accept any sign that God’s calls. They must dare to answer the wishes of self, especially dedication as future priests or nuns.
He said: "Life as a Catholic priest means a lot to me personally because I love Mass. I like to pray and I like to do charity work with people in need. Not only that, a priest introduces and teaches the faith to all Catholics to understand it and know the true God.”
After the Pol Pot Regimes from 1975 to 1979, Cambodia’s all the religious, cultural and economic factors were destroyed. During that period, Khmer Bishop, priests, religious congregations, clergy, and many Catholics were killed and died.
Nowadays, the Cambodian church has only nine local priests among 100 foreign missionaries from other countries. And has more than 10 Khmer nuns only. - Chhak Lang/RVA Khemer Service
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