Some 3,000 children from villages around Our Lady of the Smiles Parish (ChamkarTeang) gathered to celebrate Christmas. They have received the news on the Birth of Jesus from the young scouts who told them the Christmas story verbally at schools in the villages.
Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh first arrived in this small village in Takeo province’s Kous commune in Tramkak district when he was a priest, said: “In fact, this program started in 2004 with some members of the young scouts. Gradually, it is said that the Christmas feast was celebrated. We shared joys with one another. Later, they [children] said that they wanted to enter a church once. So, they were persuaded to come to this church. Throughout the years, the numbers increased and it grew from 200; to 500 then 1,000; till it reached nearly 3000. The bishop further said: “We know that these are the children who invited one another in celebrating Jesus’ birth. Some of them are young scout leaders and youths who have relationships in the village. They came to share the joy of Christmas.”
The bishop added: “Jesus who is born not only for the faithful, but also for all. Jesus who is born is the light to enlighten all humans.” He continued by saying: “Here, the children saw the Nativity play. They sang hymns that led the memories of their lives. Some others are reminded that they are not lonely. They have a family of thousands of members and brothers who are older people. Older people see our children who are the future generations. They are the strength to promote the development of Cambodia. It is hoped that our country will grow even further”
Some of the children came early in the morning. They were eager to watch the Nativity play. A child who only gave her name as Pheary came at 6 am, said: “I got up early this morning along with my sister and three other friends. We rode bicycles from home to this church to join the Christmas celebration. My mother and father are not upset with me and so I would like to thank them.” The child further said that she used to join the feast twice. She was very happy. At the gathering, the Nativity play had been performed by the children and the students of the Preschool of St. Francis. All the children watched it and shared presents in celebration of the feast. The bishop later said that this gathering of some 3,000 children had gone smoothly and joyfully because they had collaborated as a family. He highlighted that the event showed mercy, charity, excellence and quality.