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Cambodia - A Place of Hospitality and Welcome



The book of Ecclesiastes Ch 3:1 reminds us that

    There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens


Prieb So and Banteay Prieb Community with Fr. Arturo
July 2016

We arrived to the Jesuit Community in Prieb So, Phnom Penh late October 2016. It was surely the season of new beginnings. We, Lizzy, Preethi and I, gradually inserted ourselves into the daily rhythm of community here: Prayer, Eucharist, shared meals, community meetings and monthly faith-sharing. We have encountered a multiplicity of nationalities, cultures and ages!  Our meals were shared with Korean, French, German, Swiss, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Philipino, and of course Khmer people.

There have been many learning curves over these past months, but embarking and engaging in fulltime study of the Khmer Language, has possibly been the most challenging task up to now! Recently our skills and knowledge were tested on a field trip, accompanied by our Teacher, Psa Thmey, to Central Market. There, we proved to be able bargainers! The Khmer people valued our tentative efforts to engage with them in their native tongue and it was consoling to feel that at least one was understood!      


Now that the months of studying Khmer have come to an end, the time has come to leave behind what has become our home, a familiar and safe ‘nest’, to say ‘goodbye’ to Prieb So, and to say ‘hello’ to Sisophon! Warmly received on our arrival last October by the Jesuit Community, we began the shared task of forming a new inclusive community, with diversity of languages, cultures and Charism. A huge stretching on all our parts! Over this time we have been appreciated and valued, supported and cared for in every possible manner.

One of the highlights for us has been the recent visit of Fr. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus.  It was indeed a great privilege!  All hands were on deck in preparation for the visit. It was with great pride that the Khmer people on Sunday July 16th welcomed him to their home!  Unlike the mother of the sons of Zebedee, anxious for the prize seats at the table in the Kingdom, we were just very happy to be part of the group!   

The consensus of all who met him during this brief visit, was of a man, while entrusted with a great task of leadership, who carries it with lightness and with joy!  On the day of his departure he was among us for Eucharist. In his sharing, one sensed a deep sense of being called and sent once again!  He reminded us that “ours is a mission of reconciliation and hope”.  In a world of so much violence, divisions and intolerance, we are called to build bridges, to create a “culture of hospitality and welcome”. In a world where there is so much “fear and anger,” and where “hope is threatened,” we are called to bring the hope of the risen Lord in all our apostolates and ministries.

With these words of hope and confirmation, alongside the support and love received here, and with our modest memory bank of the Khmer Language, we set forth once again!  On Saturday July 29th, we will embark on the long journey, by taxi, to the North West of Cambodia. We will travel to the village of Phnom Bak, where we will finally take up our abode and enjoy the long awaited unpacking of our suitcases! We live about 8 miles from the town of Sereisophon (Sisophon), in the Province of Banteay Meanchey.  Transport to there is usually by Tuk-tuk, motor-bike or cycle!!

This coming year, our new community will comprise: three Jesuits (1 Priest and 2 Scholastics), a married couple – lay missionaries and another lay missionary; two Irish lay volunteers and we three Presentation Sisters! As we enter into the new season of our call, we are filled with faith and hope and anticipation of finally beginning ministry.  However alongside this, there are little whiffs of anxiety and trepidation! We feel honoured to be called to serve in this new venture of collaboration between our two Congregations.  We are conscious that the Magnificent Sower of Seeds will be with us on the journey, helping us to play our part in sowing the seeds of hope, love and new life for the people of Phnom Bak. As always, we thank you for remembering us in your thoughts and prayers.

Sr Anne Lyons PBVM