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The Friends of Cambodia are a parish group, open to all, who provide information about the two parishes in Cambodia St Mary’s parish is twinned with namely Our Lady of the Assumption parish, Battambang and the parish of St Therese of the child Jesus, Chomnaom, and our links to the Tep Im centre, a student hostel located near the Battambang presbytery.

The group meets a few times a year and helps us to keep in touch with news from Cambodia and projects we are supporting. Scroll down to the end of the page for information about Chomnaom and Tep Im.

Mar 22 - Letter from Chomnaom from Fr Vincent

A letter to benefactors showing the opening of the new kindergarten part funded by St Mary's can be found here.

Feb 22 - Students of the Tep Im Hostel

We have received a picture of Bishop Kike addressing the students of the Tep Im Hostel, one of the 3 Cambodian communities supported by St Mary's parish. The Tep Im hostel is now fully reopened after Covid. There are 27 students, 10 boys and 17 girls. The high number of girls is a relatively new phenomenon, as in the past girls often stayed home to help their parents or were married off at a young age. 13 of the students are new students.

Cambodia we miss you

Mike and Marie-Madeleine have put together this YouTube video remembering Battambang in Cambodia.

Not able to travel to Cambodia but many memories.

October 2021 Letter from Father Vincent. A further letter from the Parish Priest of Chomnaom can be found here

He is thanking us for funding the toilet block of the new kindergarten that is being built next to the Church. Here are the photos in the letter.

July 2021 Letter from Father Vincent. A letter from the Parish Priest of Chomnaom thanking our parish can be found here

Past news from Chomnaom

After a series of temporary parish priests, a more permanent parish priest, Fr Vincent, has been installed in Chomnaom. Like Fr Francesco, Fr Vincent is a young and energetic French MEP missionary. He sends a letter with photos (PDF) with this note:

"I am French, 34 years old, in Cambodia for 3 years. I am not a Jesuit, like bishop Kike, but a diocesan priest from Paris Foreign Missions Society, a congregation present in Cambodia since 1664.

This letter is an opportunity to contact you and to give you some news of Chomnaom. The Christian community is doing well, despite a difficult year, due to lack of water. Rice crops are not very good. Cambodia’s economic situation is difficult since the health crisis. There are no tourists. That is why we continue to give a lot of rice to the poor families of the village"

The letter mentions the Chomnaom Church facebook page where you can follow the different events in the village.

Pictures below of Fr Vincent's installation, the congregation at Chomnaom, and with Fr Jacob and Fr Glen of the Mill Hill Fathers.

Cambodia lent reflections 2021. The weekly lent reflections on life in Cambodia can be found here: Cambodia lent reflections 2021

Flooding in Cambodia
Update: Here is a link to a YouTube video of the floods around our twinned Parish of Chomnaom

Both Battambang and Chomnaom are experiencing severe flooding. Click here for details and photos.

New Book about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge by our parishioner Marie-Madeleine Kenning. Details can be found here

Marie-Madeleine from Friends of Cambodia has published a book with some of the eye-witness accounts of people’s experience in Cambodia during the terrifying years under the Khmer Rouge regime.

Our Lady of the Assumption parish, Battambang

Known as Pet Yiey Chee, or the Hospital of the Grandmother Nuns, because of the presence of a hospital run by nuns in the grounds of the current compound before the Pol Pot era, Battambang parish numbers around 1000 Catholics. Our Lady of the Assumption is both a parish church and the mother church of the Battambang prefecture (or diocese), led by Enrique Figaredo, a Spanish Jesuit missionary. The current parish priest is Fr Manoj, a Jesuit priest from India.

Click this link for a video message from Fr Manoj

St Therese of the child Jesus, Chomnaom
Chomnaom is a small village in Banteay Meanchey province some 50 kilometres from Battambang. The main source of livelihood is rice farming. In recent years many people have gone to seek employment in Thailand, leaving their children with grandparents. The village has had electricity since 2012, but there is no piped water and sanitation facilities are often inadequate. Water for drinking comes from huge jars of collected rainwater and has to be boiled; water for washing comes from the river or a pond. There is no public transport. People walk or get around on bicycles or mopeds.

The parish of St Therese of the child Jesus is the second oldest parish in the Battambang Prefecture, with around 120 Catholic families. The parish compound includes the Church, a kindergarten, and a parish pastoral centre. During the Pol Pot regime, the parish priest, Fr.Jean Badre, a French Benedictine monk, was killed by the Khmer Rouge. The parish is served by Fr Francesco, a French missionary, on ‘loan’ from the Phnom Penh diocese.

Click this link for a video message from Fr Francesco

Photos of recent work at Chomnaom
Click here for photos of the Repairs to access to the rice field (Spring 2020)
and Work for Food (May 2020)

Our Twin Parish of St Therese of the Infant Jesus

The Tep Im Centre
The Tep Im centre, named in memory of Mgr Paul Tep Im, Bishop Kike’s immediate predecessor who was killed by the Khmer Rouge alongside Fr Jean Badré, was set up to provide accommodation and food for 30 to 40 young people living in isolated villages like Chomnaom who have been admitted to one of Battambang’s universities but cannot afford to rent lodgings. It consists of three buildings (the boys’ accommodation block, the girls’ accommodation block, and the kitchen and main study room) arranged around a pleasant garden with a kiosk in the middle. The students clean the premises, look after the garden and take turns to cook.

The Director of the Tep Im Centre is currently Fr Ashley, a Jesuit missionary from Ireland.

The Tep Im Student Centre, Battambang

All of these centres are part of the Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang