Cambodia is a Constitutional Monarchy (Kingdom of Cambodia or Preăh Réachéanachâkr Kâmpŭchea in Khmer language). It has a population of 14,071,000 inhabitants according to the estimates of July 2005 of the 1998's census. The capital is Phnom Penh, the largest city with a population of 1,000,000. Other cities are Battambang, the international port of Sihanoukville and Siem Riep. The official language of the country is Khmer. Although it was a French colony (1863? - 1953?), French is not a popular language anymore like English, Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai. Cambodia or Proteh Khmae is located in the Indochinese Peninsula (Southeast Asia) and it is the modern state descendent of the ancient Khmer Empire. The Kingdom is governed by the King elected by a Royal Council. The Prime Minister is appointed by the King with the approval of the National Assembly. The actual King is His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni and the actual Prime Minister is Mister Hun Sen.


History of the Catholic Church in Cambodia


1555 marks the first year of evangelization in Cambodia when Father Gaspar da Cruz from Portugal stayed at the Royal Court in Longvek. Father Sylvestre D'Azevedo, also a Portuguese, did the first translation of Christian literature in the Khmer language. Persecusions in Japan to the Catholic faith at the beginning of the 17th Century would bring some Japanese faithful seeking refuge in the kingdom. Cambodia became in that century a safe place, because in 1660 Catholics from Indonesia came into due to persecutions in their country. But the decadency of the Khmer Empire and the invassions from Vietnam and Thailand were disastrous for the Church in the Khmer lands. Father Levavasseur, a Frenchman, wrote books of Christianity in Khmer by 1777 and founded seminaries and religious communities which were destroyed soon after by the Vietnamese invasion of 1784. The Thai invasion of 1785, only a year after (showing how was the political situation of Cambodia at the time), did deportations of Catholic Khmers to Bangkok (still today a community that links itself to that in Thailand). From that time is dated also the foundation of a Catholic community in Battambang. The 19th Century? was not peaceful too: wars and conflicts did a great damage to the Church communities. Mgr. Jean-Claude Miche was appointed by the Holy See to be the first Vicar Apostolic of Phnom Penh. In 1866?, due to the favor of King Norodom, the Khmer Catholics were able to build a church in Ponhea Lu. The 20th Century? did not have much to say for the Church due to the French protectorate that brought also many Catholic Vietnamese into the country, but the 1970's war would change it. The coming to power of the regime of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot (1975? - 1979?) would bring a lot sadness for the country, its people and its religions. Mgr. Joseph Chhmar Salas, Khmer priests, religious and lay people lost their life in the nightmare of the genocide. April 4?, 1990? opened a new hope for the Church: the goverment gave freedom of worship. December 3?, 2006? in Thang Koo saw the celebration of the 450th year of the coming of the Gospel in Cambodia with around 2000 faithful from around the country and the statistic number of 4,000 Khmer Catholics in a country mostly Buddhist.


Don Bosco came to Cambodia


Don Bosco came to Cambodia from Thailand. The Khmer refugee camps during long time of wars, attracted some Salesians from Bangkok who provided technical education to boys and learnt some of the Khmer culture. On May 24? 1991?, Solemnity of Mary Help of Christian, Father Walter Brigolin and Brother Roberto Panetto came to Phnom Penh and started works with poor youth and orphans easy to find in postwar period with Cambodia at the top of the poorest nations of Asia. "Education as a tool to fight poverty" was the motto of the first two missioners.  


The Don Bosco Technical School of Phnom Penh, the Cambodian Valdocco, opened in 1993?. In other May 24? 1994? Father John Visser came to the city and became its first rector. The needs of technical education in the country where the war destroyed schools and opportunities, urged the Salesian missioners to think of a second work. The chosen place was the Cambodian international port, Sihanoukville or Kompong Som. The Don Bosco Technical School of Sihanoukville opened in January? 1999?. With the technical education came other proposals to answer the needs of a society of poverty and suffering, especially for the children and youth: the Don Bosco Children Fund to support education of children in very poor conditions and the Don Bosco Food Program to contribute with food to 47 schools in Banteay Meanchey Province. In 2000? Don Bosco Phnom Penh did the first experience of the Youth Center? (Oratorio?). The new century gave to Don Bosco Cambodia the new foundation: in November? 2004? was opened the Don Bosco Center in Poipet, a shelter home for children victims of trafficking in Thailand.


External links


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