Preaek Toal by nature is one of the tourists’ destinations. Preaek Toal has a small Floating Community and the Church is named after St Joseph, our Patron saint which has a small number of Communicants and has an increasing number of hundred and more children and youths depending in the rise of water in Tonle Sap Lake.
The young Children who join us for Sunday’s mass and Catechism classes are open to know and learn our faith. They participate in all activities happily. My experience in short period of time with this community is that the regular contact has a tremendous impact on faithful Christians and development of the place. Within a short period of time the bond of friendship and trust was built so strong that the faithful long for Holy mass on every Sunday.
Recently, we had celebrated ‘Pchum Ben’ which is one of the prominent celebrations of Khmer people. ‘Pchum’ means to gather together and ‘Ben’ means ball of Food. This celebration lasts for Fifteen days and people pay tribute to their ancestors of seven generations. Faithful brought food from home and offered in the mass. It’s so meaningful that what they have brought from home is offered to God and later the food was shared by people. On this particular day, the Quebec missionaries working in Phnom Penh visited us and shared the joy of being with the community. All together it was a solemn celebration.
Yeiy Khun has been the mother of faith in the floating village. Gone are the days, she kept her faith intact and waited for priests to celebrate holy eucharist at least once in two months or on priests availability. She used to gather her grand children and the children from her neighbourhood to pray and to be together. Her very example is a sign of handing over the faith to the next generation. She is a simple ordinary woman who strongly believes in Jesus Christ. She praises and thanks God for his abundance of blessings, good health and protection. Now, She is so happy that the floating community has a priest to attend their spiritual needs.
Faith of these little children is a sign of a young church in Tonle Sap Lake. These young children offered incense and prayed for the souls. It was impressive in the way they spontaneous in their own way offering prayers.
Fr Benard concelebrated mass with me on the occasion of the Pchum Ben Celebration. It was his first time to be in the floating church and he loved it. In fact, whoever visits this place carries a bag full of smiles and happiness.
Yacob Chilka MHM