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Ad Gentes, Phnom Penh



Ad gentes Brother directs Catholic Church Student Center

09/03/2012: Cambodia

The Catholic Church Student Center (CCSC) is the response of the Catholic Church to the needs of poor but gifted students -boys and girls- who could not continue their university education without support. Those students came from the programs that the parishes across the three dioceses of Cambodia have established in order to help impoverished Cambodian young people continue their high school education.

The project started in 1999 under the direction of Fr. John Ashley Evans SJ.  The old rooms of Saint Joseph parish (Phsar Touch) were used as bedrooms, dining room and study hall. A new building was constructed in September 2002, thanks to the donation granted by Missio, Aachen.

Missio has committed to funding the running cost of the project since September 2008.

The CCSC project not only aims to provide accommodation and pay the university fees for its students but it also  provides for many programs which help them to grow and develop as human persons, as committed citizens, and as faithful Catholics if such is their decision. Some of these programs are: the bimonthly political debate; workshops on relevant issues; Christian Life Community groupsharing; sport tournaments; special sessions during the liturgical seasons; Taizé prayer; weekly Eucharistic celebration and daily moment of night prayer; English classes; and volunteering on social or pastoral services during the weekends.

To this date, eleven groups of students have benefited from this project completing successfully their university courses. Most of them play an important role in the animation of the local Church; provide their professional services to NGOs, private and public institutions within the country and abroad; and are making a positive contribution to society. The CCSC is considered by the Cambodian Catholic Church as a significant project since it is the platform for Christian formation of young lay Catholics.

Nowadays the project supports 64 students (24 male and 40 female - 17 of them have accommodation in a rented house called St. Clare Center).

Bro. Diego Zawadzky, was appointed by Mgsr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, the Vicar Apostolic of Phnom Penh, as the Coordinator of the CCSC project for the next three years starting from September 2011. As coordinator, Bro. Diego has the following responsibilities: (1)  to monitor and encourage the spiritual, moral, intellectual, cultural and physical formation of all students of the CCSC project - including those who have moved outside the Centers- by setting a suitable formation program; (2) to  maintain a Christian community spirit in dealing with others and in solving all internal problems; (3) to chair the weekly meetings of Executive Committee consisting of the Directors and assistant Directors of both Centers; (4) to monitor the financial and administrative matters to ensure transparency in transactions and (5) to prepare annual written reports to the funding agencies and for the Bishops´ Council.

This responsibility is for Diego an extraordinary opportunity to be involved in the missionary life of the local Church and to be in direct contact with a wide range of Cambodian young people, which will allow him to know them better and to serve them effectively. It is also an opportunity to establish strategic contacts with Church leaders and, of course, an invaluable space to improve his Khmer language skills. All this surely will later render benefits for the Marist presence in Cambodia and especially on the vocations ministry field.

Diego is confident on the spiritual and material support from the global Marist family and in a special way from all those who are part of the Ad Gentes Sector.


Would you like to become an Ad Gentes missionary? Contact your Provincial and inform the Ad Gentes coordination in Rome in the email: teofilominga@gmail.com 

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