St Francis Xavier Parish, Svay Sisophon, Cambodia
Svay Sisophon [pronounced swy sisapon] is a town of 100,000 with a huge rural hinterland of small villages, 25 miles from the Thai border. It’s not a tourist area, there’s no industry, the main occupation is subsistence farming and the average daily wage is less than 80p.
SIX FACTS ABOUT CAMBODIA
- 70% of the 14 million population are under 30 years old
- infant mortality is 12% and life expectancy is 54
- 70% have no clean water and 80% no electricity
- education is optional, teachers are underpaid, most are unqualified
- Cambodia is the 3rd most-landmined country in the world
- 95% of Cambodians are Buddhists
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CAMBODIA
The brutal regime of Pol Pot and the devastation caused bythe Khmer Rouge during the 1970’s and 80’s left Cambodia broken in all but spirit with the tiny Catholic community fighting for survival. Since then, the Church has set up many centres across the country promoting peace and reconciliation and serving the whole community, based entirely on need and regardless of of faith. It is now one of the biggest NGO’s [non-governmental organisations] in Cambodia. The Catholic Dioceses of East Anglia and Battambang have been officially linked since 2004 and through this link, Sacred Heart Parish [includes Aylsham & Hoveton] is twinned with St Francis Xavier Parish in Svay Sisophon. The basis of this twinning is Mutual Friendship and Spiritual Support.
MUTUAL FRIENDSHIP is at the heart of our twinning. Annual visits are made to Svay Sisophon and other centres, all visitors paying for themselves [ie: no charity money is used]. This is an essential opportunity to talk to local people and church workers, check on the progress of various projects and find out at first-hand what assistance is actually needed. Communication is maintained throughout the year by regular email and Facebook contacts with news of activities, events and celebrations in both communities posted on this website.
SPIRITUAL SUPPORT is an important part of our twinning. The work of the Church in Cambodia, which we help to support, is based on the example of two great Jesuit saints, Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier. Their mission, to share God’s love through the service of others, especially the poor and needy, provides inspiration to both our communities. Twice a year, at Khmer New Year [April] and the Feast of the Ancestors [October] we celebrate special ‘Cambodian-style’ community Masses to which everyone, of all faiths and none, is warmly invited.
PRACTICAL ASSISTANCE, although not the main reason for our twinning, practical assistance is nevertheless very much appreciated by all who receive it and it provides a tangible way to show care and concern for those in need.
- Click on these images for our twin Diocese of Battambang and Jesuit Service Cambodia
Parish of St Francis Xavier, Svay Sisophon:
Catholic Church, #53 Road 4, Krom 12, Phum Sophy Khum, Kompong Svay, Srei Sisophon, Banteay Meanchey Province, CAMBODIA