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By Sr. Maria Elena Estacio, FMA

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 5 December 2017 -- A most significant day for the Salesian Family in Cambodia. It marked not only the feast of Blessed Philip Rinaldi, third successor of Don Bosco and founder of the Volunteers of Don Bosco (VDB), but also the solemn profession of the first Cambodian VDB.

The occasion was held at Mary Help of Christians Church (inside Don Bosco Technical School compound) in Phnom Penh and was witnessed by seven members of the Salesian Delegation Council of Cambodia, seven representatives of the FMA communities, Fr. Ivano Pertile, Regional Director of VDBs in Thailand, Cambodia and India, Fr. John Lissandrin, Ecclesiastical Assistant of VDBs in Thailand, together with nine Thai and one Indian VDBs who came to Cambodia to show their fraternal support and witness this historical event.

The new Cambodian VDB started her formation seven years ago under the direction and guidance of Fr. Roel Soto, the SDB Delegate to Cambodia and the designated Ecclesiastical Assistant to the VDBs in Cambodia. In 2014, she received the VDB Constitution in Banphong, Thailand from the hands of Fr. Ivano Pertile, Regional Director. She also joined the CKG-VIT VDBs and the Ecclesiastical Assistants in the EAO retreat in Hua Hin, Thailand later that year with Fr. Klement Vaclav, EAO Regional Superior, as the retreat facilitator.

Two years later (2016), she received the medal of Don Bosco on her last two years of aspirantate as a sign of her intention to give herself to God in the Institute. At this point Sr. Teresa (Thippawan) Parksuwan, an FMA Thai missionary, started to help in her formation on the VDB Constitutions. She attended the VDB Centenary celebration last May 19-21, 2017 in Banphong and the VDB annual retreat in Thailand last October in preparation for her coming first profession.

The Salesian Family in Cambodia is hopeful that more will be inspired to walk the Salesian vocation path now trodden by the first Cambodian Volunteer of Don Bosco. Sharing the same charism and mission as the SDBs and FMAs (Don Bosco fathers, brothers and sisters), the Salesian Cooperators, committed past pupils and members of Marian associations devoted to Mary Help of Christians, the VDBs belong to the same world-wide Salesian Family of Don Bosco. Their male counterparts are called CDBs or WDBs (“con Don Bosco” or “With Don Bosco”).

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