" Who wants to carry the cross, has to abandon"
" Your disability
" I am with you always"
" The word of God is life,
" People say that the temples are the pearls in the jungle of Cambodia. I say the children, the people are the pearls in the jungle of Cambodian history, all we need to do is help them shine to show the real worth"
" We are the people of hope, with hope we can build the future"
" My energy is to live like Jesus Christ"
"Towards the future...
" There is no greater
" God makes the way straight and smooths the curves of my life"
" I am a servant"
Fr. Chham sary
The tiny communities grew, and during this time of exile, an intense effort was made by the MEP Fathers to translate the bible and liturgy to Khmer.
With the return of the refugees in the early nineties to Cambodia, Catholic communities in the northwest slowly began to gather and worship together.
Refugee members maintained their faith, since they had received intense formation during their exile in Thailand. Although property rights were lost during the years of turbulence and exile, the Catholic church was able to buy back the property and buildings which were formerly the hospital of the Providence Sisters in Battambang. Quickly this became an important pastoral centre for nurturing the small communities back to full life.
In 1990, the Catholic communities were given permission to worship freely in Cambodia, and Caritas Cambodia was re-established after an absence of 15 years. Bishop Yves Ramousse, who since 1983 had been responsible for the pastoral care of Cambodian communities dispersed around the world, officially returned in late 1992. A Cambodian priest, Tonlop Sophal, was ordained in 1995 and is currently the Vicar General of Battambang.
The Church in Cambodia
In the middle of the 19th century, when the Kingdom of Cambodia was all but destroyed by war, the Catholic communities almost disappeared.
In 1850 the Holy See established the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh, covering all the Kingdom of Cambodia, and in 1968 the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh was divided into three: Phnom Penh, Kompong Cham and Battambang.
In 1970 the "Sangkaha", or mutual aid organization was established as the Church's instrument to assist the victims of war. It was later called Caritas Cambodia. Mgr. Yves Ramousse was appointed in the early sixties as Bishop of Phnom Penh, and Mgr. Joseph Chhmar Sala was appointed as Cambodian Bishop Coadjuntor in April 1975. In that same month the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh. All foreigners were soon expelled and the cities were emptied of people.
All the Cambodian priests and religious, except the handful of sisters who happened to be outside the country, and a great number of Khmer Catholics, lost their lives during the years of the genocide. All but three churches were completely destroyed.
Mgr. Paul Tep Im Sotha, who had been named first Apostolic Prefect of Battambang in 1968, was killed together with Fr. Jean Badre, a French Benedictine, in May 1975 in Bat Trang in the Mongolborei district of Banteay Meanchey Province. Bishop Joseph Chhmar Sala died of hunger and fatigue in Tang Kork, a village to the north of Phnom Penh.
At the end of the Khmer Rouge period, in 1979 and in the early eighties, there were only a small number of Catholics who were among the several hundred thousand who lived in the refugee settlements along the Thai border.