The Cambodian government recognized the “contribution to society” of Bishop Olivier Michel Marie Schmitthaeusler, vicar apostolic of Phnom-Penh, during a ceremony on March 8.
The Catholic prelate received the “Grand Order of National Merit” from His Excellency Sam Al Say, Ministry of Environment at the Saint Paul Institute in Takeo province.
The government recognized Bishop Schmitthaeusler’s contribution to development in Takeo province, especially on education, arts and culture, social work, health care, and community service.
King Norodom Sihanouk founded the Grand Order of National Merit on October 5, 1995. It is awarded to foreign heads of state and to Cambodian nationals who have performed exceptional services to the nation.
“The Grand Order of National Merit is given for all the works of the Catholic Church from 2010 to 2022 in Takeo province,” RVA Khmer News quoted the prelate.
Bishop Schmitthaeusler thanked the Royal Government of Cambodia for recognizing the Church’s contribution to society.
“The Church exists to help people who are hopeless to be hopeful,” said the prelate, a member of the Paris Foreign Mission Society congregation.
“These are not my works alone, but these are the works of the Catholic community, especially in Takeo province,” he said.
“I would like to thank all my colleagues for our activities, especially, in the field of education, social development, art, and culture,” added Bishop Schmitthaeusler.
The bishop has earlier beed granted Cambodian citizenship by the government.
Earlier, the prelate also received several honors, such as the Medal of National Merit, Royal Order of Sahametrei Grans Cross, Royal Order of Monisaraphon Grand Cross, Royal Order of Monisaraphon Commander, and Medal of National Construction Gold.
The bishop arrived in Cambodia as a young priest in 1998 and was sent to Takeo province in 2002 where he set up the Saint Francois Professional High School.
He also established the Saint Paul Institute and the Saint Francis Technical High School, and established the Peace Center for Handicraft Children, Peace Village for Inclusion, Handicrafts Center Cocoa, Social Enterprise, and Cocoa. – from an RVA Khmer News report