Cambodia: De La Salle brother drowns while rescuing student

grieving villagers

grieving villagers

A De La Salle mission in Cambodia has been left deeply saddened by the death of a Vietnamese confrere who died while rescuing a 15-year-old girl who fell into a river in Cambodia. The girl, who fell into the Mekong River, survived.

Brother Dominic Phung The Minh, 28, and his catechism class students had been swimming after Mass about 100 metres from Van Lich church when Nguyen Thi Ngoc Giau was caught in a strong current.

Brother Minh was swept away as he tried to rescue her.

The incident occurred on July 12, about 50 kilometres south of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, said Brother Joseph Nguyen The Anh, the deceased's confrere.

Brother Minh's body was found two hours later and taken to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

His coffin was taken to the chapel at the congregation's Mai Thon center on 14  July. About 200 priests, Religious and lay Catholics prayed and offered incense at the wake. Eight local priests concelebrated Brother Minh's funeral the next day and he was buried at the De La Salle cemetery.

Brother Jean Baptiste Tran Dinh Hiep, 38, the head of the three-member community in Cambodia, said Brother Minh loved his work among local children.

"He taught them their lessons and catechism, played games with them and they went fishing together," he said.

Brother Hiep, 38, said the deceased brother offered poor students scholarships, visited poor families, providing food for them and helped to repair their houses.

"He lived in poverty among poor people and died for them," a tearful Brother Hiep said.

Father Olivier Schmitthaeusler, vicar general of Phnom Penh said:  "We are inspired by Brother Minh's death and appreciate his work for the local Church," Fr Schmitthaeusler said in Khmer. He tried his best to serve Vietnamese people there and bring God's love to many people, the priest noted.

Brother Minh was born on 25 June, 1981 in the southern Vietnamese province of Dong Nai. He entered the Christian Brothers school in Ho Chi Minh City in 2000 and began his work with Vietnamese communities in Cambodia in 2006. Since then he had been stationed at Phum Sousom Kosal, Stung Mean Chey and Phnom Penh.

Source: UCAN

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