Community history

The Good news came to Cambodia with arrival of the first missionaries for 455 years ago. In 1555, Fr. Gas par Da Cruz, a Portuguese priest arrived and proclaimed good news in Cambodian society, then there were some Catholic people from Indonesia and Japan took refuge at Phnom Penh and Ponhea Leu.

Cambodia suffered by the Siamese and Aname. Siamese’s invasion deported a large number of Cambodian Catholics to Bangkok. Some Catholics escaped and re grouped themselves in Battambang on 1790.

In 1866, Preah Bath Norodom, the king of Cambodia asked the church to relocate to Phnom Penh. Furthermore, the Church has developed, and until mid of 20th Yen ordained as the first Cambodian priest.

In 1068 the Holy See divided the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh into three Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions such as Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang, Apostolic Prefecture of Kompong Cham.

On April 14, 1975, Mgr. Joseph Chhmar Salas was ordained as a coadjutor Bishop of Ap apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh. On April 17, 1975, Khmer Rouge destroyed all, Church’s building, religion groups, includ ing Catholics and non Catholics were force out of the town and cities. Mgr. Paul Tep Im Sotha and Fr. Jean Badré were killed by Khmer Rouge soldiers in Banteay MeanChey province in May 1975.

During the Khmer Rouge regime, all the Catholic Churches were completely destroyed. Mgr. Joseph Chhmar Salas died of exhaustion in 1977. Other priests and Catholics were killed.

After Khmer Rouge collapsed in 1979, Catholics backed to their hometown but some went to refugee camps at Thai- Cambodian border. In the country, Catholics tried to keep their belief in house and some place secretly, however they were in the black list and discrimination.

In 1990, the government agreed to give permission to the Catholic Church. The first Eucharist celebrated by Fr. Emile Destombes with Thousands of Catholics and other Christian during the Khmer New Year.

In 1992, Mgr. Yves Ramousse, a bishop of the apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh returned to Cambodia.

In 1993 till now, many religious groups, missionaries, lay people and other Catholic NGOs have came to worked in Cambodia.

In 1994 the Holy See established diplomatic relation with the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In July 1995, there was a cambodian youth ordain priest.

In 1997, Mgr. Emile Destombes was ordained as coadjutor bishop, and in 2001, he succeeded Mgr. Yves Ramousse as the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh.

In December 2001, there were four Cambodian youth ordain priests. And two of them are working in Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh.

In March 2004, there were two Cambodian girl makes their first vow at the Lover of the Cross’ sisters, and another one made her vow in 2007.

The Church was developed day by day. Church serve the Cambodian people by created schools, vocational training centers, Hospital, Health care centers and other activities…ect.

On December 24, 2009, Rev. Fr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler was appointed by Pope Benedicto XVI as the Coadjutor Bishop of Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh. His Episcopal ordination Bishop will host officially on March 20, 2010. He succeeded Bishop Emile Destombes as new Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh on October 1, 2010.