04/16/2019, 14.33
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Cambodia’s small Church announces 294 baptisms on Easter night

This is “God’s work,” says the vicar of Phnom Penh, Bishop Schmitthaeusler, who urges the faithful to experience their mission as baptised and sent: “the Church has been, the Church is, the Church shall be.”

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/ÉdA) – On Easter night, Cambodia’s Catholic community will celebrate the baptism of 294 people: 154 in the capital Phnom Penh, 80 in Battambang and 60 in Kampong Cham (capitals of their respective homonymous provinces), said Mgr Olivier Michel Marie Schmitthaeusler, apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh, on the occasion of the Chrism Mass celebrated on 9 April (pictures).

About 80 local priests took part in the service in which Mgr Schmitthaeusler urged the faithful to live their mission of baptised and sent, in accordance with the theme of the next Extraordinary Month of the Mission called by Pope Francis in 2017. ‘Baptised and sent: The Church of Christ on a mission in the world’ will be celebrated in October 2019.

In his homily, the apostolic vicar said that "In Cambodia, the Extraordinary Month of the Mission is a sort of ‘powerful reminder’ of the ordinary life of our baptised and sent."

"Here,” he added, “our small vicariate and our small prefectures do not have large structures, and our communities, often tiny and planted in the middle of a rice field, at the foot of a hill or in the heart of the city, do not have crowds of Christians. The mission is the heart of our lives as believers, priests and religious. Here, the whole People of God is an apostle, with daily concerns, in the manner of Saint Paul: "woe to me if I do not preach it (the Gospel)!"

After noting the number of the newly baptised, Mgr Schmitthaeusler asked those present: "Is this simply the result of the work of the sixty priests present in Cambodia, or the hundreds of men and women religious who live there, or the work of some thirty lay missionaries? No, it is above all God’s work.

“Dear brothers and sisters, we are this People of God, baptised and sent. Let us give thanks to God for all the Christians who, as in the days of the Acts of the Apostles, are our most precious collaborators. The priest is the pastor of the community he must love and understand, to walk together towards God. Let us simply be pastors in accordance with God’s Heart.”

The prelate told those present how to "build our Church, a sign of the Kingdom of God", in ten points - one for each year of apostolic vicariate in Phnom Penh.

"Spiritual life: we are born of God and sent into the world; communion: among us; inclusion: for all,  everyone is welcome; forgiveness: a sine qua non condition to go forward; a heart that listens and loves in action and in truth: charity in action; true and direct dialogue at all levels: religious, institutional, societal; concrete presence in society; the integral education of just and virtuous men and women; a paternal and maternal heart: the Church is a family . . . a giant tree with a huge heart; be creative: the Gospel is new every morning".

"Yesterday, today, tomorrow: The Church is 2000 years old; it has roots that nourish our today and prepare the future. Useless servants: no one is indispensable, we are useless servants . . . who offer however more love and life, and who can withdraw discreetly knowing that others will continue this service of proclamation and peace; the Church has been, the Church is, the Church shall be.”

(Photo credit: ÉdA).

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