Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Young Catholics Dominate Catechetical Ministry in Cambodia

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Young Catholics Dominate Catechetical Ministry in Cambodia

Article excerpt

By UCA NEWS

A youth wave is changing the face of the church in Cambodia, where the vast majority of catechists countrywide are young people.

"I like to do church work, especially ministry, especially as a catechist," Choeung Phana, 26, told UCA News recently. "I want to share my belief with my Cambodian brothers and sisters."

The catechist of St. Joseph Parish in Phnom Penh acknowledged the work is not easy. "We do not merely provide lessons to catechumens," she explained. "We also give them good examples through our daily lives."

Phana became a catechist 11 years ago, after being baptized at the age of 15. Over the course of more than a decade, she has spent free time and even holidays working as a catechist.

The Catholic church in Cambodia has been rebuilding since the 1990s, after the devastating rule of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, during which no native priest or religious in the country was known to survive. But this revival has depended largely on foreign missioners.

That is changing as a wave of new Catholics, especially youth, get involved in many fields of ministry such as liturgy groups, charity and social work and catechism.

Of the 160 catechists currently serving the church, 130 are ages 18-35. Most have no formal catechetical degree, because the local church has no official catechism school.

Sun Nin, 25, one of Phana's fellow catechists at St. Joseph, told UCA News after two years' experience as a catechist that the service "is difficult, but it gives me strength and reaffirms my belief in Christ. …

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