FMA[*] Cambodia Marks 25th Anniversary

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (also known as Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco) celebrated the Silver (25th) Anniversary of their mission in Cambodia last 9th November 2017. The long-awaited, auspicious day was held at Don Bosco School, Teuk Thla, Phnom Penh.
The celebration began with the solemn Eucharistic celebration at 8.30 a.m. at the High School hall. Most Rev. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, presided over the celebration along with Rev. Msgr. Enrique Figaredo, Apostolic Prefect of Battambang and Rev. Msgr. Antonysamy Susairaj, Apostolic Prefect of Kompong Cham. Rev. Fr. Filiberto Gonzalez, SDB General Councillor for Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Roel Soto SDB, the Provincial Delegate to Cambodia, along with other Salesians, and diocesan/religious priests who came from all over Cambodia, concelebrated the Holy Eucharist.

During the offertory procession, 25 representatives of the Educating Community, namely, the students, staff, parents, and past pupils offered 25 kinds of fruits, signifying the fruitfulness of the Sisters’ mission.
Also present were several Sisters from different religious orders. The Superior General of the FMA congregation, Mother Yvonne Reungoat, was represented by Sr. Runita Borja, Councillor in charge of FMA Youth Ministry, who came all the way from Rome. Sr. Sarah Garcia, an ex-Provincial of CMY Province, was also present. She is currently posted at the FMA Human Rights office in Geneva.
Salesian Sisters from the inter-provincial conference of CIAO also graced the occasion. There was the Provincial of East Timor-Indonesia, Sr. Alma Castagna; the Provincial of Thailand, Sr. Nipha Agnese Rangabpit; the Provincial of Vietnam, Sr. Vu thi Kim Lien Rosa and the ex-Provincial of Japan, Sr. Kenjo Sumie Teresina. Other Sisters from Thailand, Vietnam, Hongkong, Laos, East Timor and Myanmar, especially the ones who had been part of our mission in its earlier stages, also came. Visitors and benefactors from Japan, Australia, Singapore and Thailand were also present. The students, past pupils and staff warmly welcomed their former teachers and volunteers.

At 9.30 a.m. the guests were around the colorful exhibition entrance for its opening. The three Bishops, assisted by benefactors, cut the ribbon and the guests entered the room to view the exhibit. It was indeed a very artistic presentation of the Province: its roots and beginnings and its growth and development. The “Very Important Persons” were asked to sign the day’s guest book.
At 10.30. a.m. the cultural program began with the welcoming and ushering in of the guests into the spacious high school hall while the children’s band of Don Bosco School played music. Then the guests of honour were presented and honoured.  After the assembly had sung the Cambodian National Anthem, a blessing dance was performed by a group of Teuk Thla students and staff.
“Together”, a choreographed song, was presented by the Teuk Thla high school students. This was followed by the message of Sr. Runita Borja. She underscored the significance of the jubilee celebration as a call to remember the reason for which our Institute came to this blessed land: to provide an integral education for young people, especially girls, and so that they might do their part in building a society that promotes the culture of life. It was also a call to celebrate the life that continues to pulsate in the different communities and in the works where our Educating Communities are present.  And lastly, she pointed out that the jubilee was a call to look forward to the future, that is, the FMA presence in Cambodia to continue and multiply.
After the message, the students from the four schools of the Salesian Sisters in Cambodia (Tuol Kork, Teuk Thla, Battambang and Phum Chreh), presented their “Thanksgiving” in a creative way through dance, song, action and choreography.  The well-prepared and much applauded presentation expressed in a unique way the Sisters’ and their beneficiaries’ gratitude for all the blessings received all thorough these 25 years.
Then Sr. Jessica Salvaña, Provincial of CMY Province, further expressed words of gratitude to each one who contributed to the growth and development of the Province, to all who were the Sisters’ strength and support in all these years. She presented a souvenir and a certificate to each one as a token of appreciation.
The celebration concluded with an agape. It was still another beautiful moment to get together to share, thank and appreciate each other.
Silver years of living with, healing and helping rebuild a nation into a truly great people….and now celebrating how the educative charism and family spirit of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello have given new life and hope to young people in Cambodia.
The celebration was doubly significant because it coincides with the 140th Anniversary of the First Send-off of FMA Missionaries to America on 14th November 1877. This expansion “beyond the seas” took place just five years after the foundation of the Institute in Italy (1872).  Six Italian Sisters departed for Uruguay in South America.
Back in Cambodia, the year 2017 also marks the opening of a new FMA house in Phum Chreh, a depressed village in a marginalized area of the city. The new “presence” at Don Bosco School-Chreh is directly under the CMY Provincial and consists of three Sisters: Sr. Teresita Garcia (in-charge), Sr. Thippawan Teresa Parksuwan and Sr. Teresa Maria Tran Kim Phoung.
“All glory to God who builds the house and guards over it.”
-       Sr. Anna Rani,FMA and Sr. Malen Estacio,FMA

[*] FMA: “Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice” (Italian for “Daughters of Mary, Our Help”)

Soft blessings of the Convent of Don Bosco Phum Chreh

November 12, 2017

Don Bosco Elementary School, Phum Chreh has its humble beginnings with the Sunday Oratory organised by the Vides Cambodia on January 7, 2001. On October 2002, a primary school was opened at the request of the village people.

Today, October 2017, we have 146 kinder kids and complete Elementary School with 288 students enrolled. A new novelty is that the Salesian sisters will begin their new presence in this village and it will be a great blessing for the children, the village people and of course the new Parish where the sisters will give their service in Catechesis. The chosen sisters were Sr. Teresita Garcia (leader), Sr. Teresa Thippawan and Sr. Teresa Maria Kim Phuong.
A Soft blessing was done in the sister’s residence on November 12, 2017, by Fr. Roel Soto SDB in the presence of Sr. Runita, Councillor General of Youth Pastoral, Sr. Jessica Salvana Provincial of CMY and many FMA’s. It was a heart warming to witness the development of this small seed growing graciously. We ask God and our Blessed Mother Mary to make their mission fruitful.

Celebration for the 140th anniversary of the First FMA Missionary Expedition in Cambodia

The symbolic boat, the soft and the gentle noise of the ocean, the picturesque presence of young sisters in Black habit representing the missionaries who set their sail 140 years back and the garden itself where were present for the evening prayer already set a good tone for the prayers.
The prayer had three parts. God creating the world, Jesus commissioning his disciples and the moments the Holy founders spent with the missionaries, loaded with good wishes and advices. The sentiments that lingered all through the prayer were that of real courage and pain of partition. Reading of the pages of chronicle, took us to the day letting us relive it fully and totally, exhorting each of us to rededicate with passion our commitment.

At the conclusion of the prayers, each of us was given a commitment and a letter of Mother Mazzarello to be read and personalised and to be lived.

Comic Edition of St. Mark’s Gospel in Khmer Now Published!


After five years of hard work coupled with a lot of faith and patient endurance, the Khmer version of St. Mark’s Gospel Volumes 1 & 2 in a comic format was finally published! Sr. Ched presented the books to the Sisters at the end of the Day of Spirituality (Oct. 21, 2017). Sr. Jessica handed to each community a set of fifty books for the use of the school.
Congratulations to Sr. Neath, who painstakingly translated the book from English to Khmer!  Faithful to the English version, she made it a point that the fonts for various personages and that of Jesus plus the narration part are different from each other.
  Kudos and huge thanks to everyone who made this project possible! We are indebted in a special way to Mr. Lawrence Man Yin Lee, past pupil of the Salesians in Hong Kong who tirelessly supported and funded the publication of this Khmer edition.
 What makes this book unique? It’s a Gospel Comic with commentaries in an easy to read format. The commentaries are presented by a priest named Fr. Joseph whose caricature pops up in-between pages in order to explain something to the readers.
 This beautiful gift is humbly offered to the Lord on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of our presence in Cambodia and the 140th anniversary of the first missionary expedition of the Institute. As the translator aptly said.
“I would like to dedicate this humble work to the mission of evangelization in Cambodia. May the Catholics, fellow Christians, young people, children and all the readers get to understand, recognize and love Jesus more as their wonderful companion in their lives’ journey.
May the seeds which have been sown by the missionaries grow and bear fruits, and as a result yield ample of vocations in Cambodian soil.”  
 -   Sr. Sovathanak Mary (Neath) Tang, F.M.A.  (St. Mark’s Gospel, Vol.1)

First Parents’ Meeting for School Year 2017-2018

The parents of the Kinder and Elementary children came for the first meeting of the school last October 22 while the parents of the High School students had theirs last October 29. There were four groups divided into morning and afternoon sessions. Since it was the first encounter with the parents for the new school year, the Sisters and the Staff were presented to the assembly. The school principal, Sr. Teresa Tuale welcomed and encouraged the parents and/or the guardians to an active collaboration with the school for the good of their children. Before they went to the respective classes of their children to meet the teachers and for further explanations of the school rules and regulations, Mr. Sophearith and Mr. Bunthong one for each day of the meeting,  introduced the Parent Representatives Group, its goals, projects and motivated the parents to abide by the school rules. 
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