See Photos BEFORE and AFTER Renovation
In its 140 years of existence as a Catholic Community, the Church of St. Mary in Taom has been inaugurated yesterday, September 25, 2022 in the presence of the Christian community, village leaders, priests, and the honored guest Mdme Bernadette Chow Yoke Keng from Singapore who helped greatly in the renovation of the church. During Cambodia’s civil war from 1970-1990, the Church was bombed, destroyed, abandoned as later used as cow shed and rice mill. Some machine gun shots have been preserved on some parts of the wall to remember this past. The inaugurated began with a procession led by the Cross of Christ around three times around the church. Then a ribbon at the door was cut by church leaders and village leaders. Mdme Yoke Keng turned over the key of the Church to Fr. Totet who oversaw the renovation and turned over the key to the new parish priest, Fr. Glenn Bibero, MHM.
Here: Restoration Plan for Taom Church
Mass was held in thanksgiving for this new gift. The day of the inauguration was also the big feast of Pchhum Ben when Cambodians remember the beloved dead. In his homily, Fr. Totet talked about grace of God bringing us all together as a community, renewed in faith through the marks of the suffering we encountered in life.
LAYING OF “FOUNDATION SOIL”
After the homily, soil samples were buried under the altar to represent the coming together of people as a community proclaiming the faith. The soil samples were from
- Old Cemetery of Taom
- Via Appia in Rome, near the Catacombs, place of early Christian Martyrs
- Loyola Spain, Birthplace of St. Ignatius
- Pamplona, Spain, where St. Ignatius was hit by a bullet
- Montserrat, Spain, where Ignatius prayed and made vigil before Mary, our Mother
- Manresa, Spain, where Ignatius developed and deepend his knowledge of Jesus.
- St. Ignatius Parish, Singapore (representing Mdme Yoke Keng), Donor
- Soil from the residence of Mr. Kai Seng and Mdme Angela Tan and Family, Donor for other projects
- Soil from the residence of Mdme Margaret WAN and family in Singapore, Donor for other projects
- Soil from Khna thmey, Siem Reap City, representing the missionary efforts of Thoem Thon
- Object from Wao Lanao del Sur, birthplace of Fr. Totet, Parish Priest in charge of Renovation
An offertory procession followed where people brought flowers, fruits, and food from their homes.
A SHARED MEAL
After the mass the community shared their packed lunch to each other. Mdme Yoke Keng also a meal for everyone. Before this day, she distributed food packs to 25 families in Piak Snaeng Chas, 25 families in Jesus Farm, and 50 families in taom living on both sides of the river.
OLDEST CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CAMBODIA
The Church of St. Mary is the oldest Catholic Church in Cambodia and can be estimated to have existed for 110 years now. It is fitting to call it the “Mother Church” that holds unto itself the memory of the joys and suffering of its people.
In 2023, we are looking forward to a bigger pilgrimmage to bless the Church Altar and the whole Church. This event will hopefully be attended by the three bishops of Cambodia, former members of Taom community in diaspora, representative from all Churches in Cambodia, and friends/benefactors from other countries especially Singapore.