The Child Jesus Church in Boeng Tompun in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh invited 200 poor people, some physically ill, from the poor districts of the city to an Advent feast.
The activity was presided by Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, MEP, apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh, who described the event as as a “party together, such as a great wedding.”
He said the Kingdom of God comes when “our hearts are filled with love.”
“When it is full, it begins to flow out, so that the gifts of God may be abundant for many people,” said the prelate.
“Today, we thank God for calling us to come together to build the Kingdom of God,” he told the gathering.
He reminded the people to do good deeds during the Advent season, “to turn adversity into hope, pain into a new force and tribulation into true peace, to find the light in the coming Jesus Christ in our lives.”
“Today I came to eat delicious food like the wedding reception, which I and all of the poor people cannot afford to eat,” said 42-year-old Sam Sokha.
“I’m so excited, I do not know what to say because I’m from a poor family. I can only say thank you so much to the Church for giving this to a poor like me,” Sokha added.
In Cambodia, one has to pay at least US$20 to join a wedding ceremony. A garbage collector like Sokha only earns US$2.5 a day.
Prum Sokny, a 45-year-old with HIV-AIDS, thanked the Church for taking care of those in need.
“I am very happy and also thank you so much for helping me and all the poor families every month,” she said.
“We have nothing but words of thanks to the Church as well as to the priests for sharing their love with us,” said Sang Maria, one of the recipients.
Nguon Phalla, a member of the parish charity committee, said the program was supported by Catholics who shared whatever they have.