Ulaanbataar (Mongolia). On 10 July 2022, missionaries and lay people with families, young people and children gathered in the capital Ulaanbataar, for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the presence of the Catholic Church in Mongolia. The event began with Eucharistic adoration and confessions in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, which created an atmosphere of profound recollection before Holy Mass.
The Eucharistic celebration of thanksgiving together with all the priests, missionaries and faithful, was presided over by Bishop Giorgio Marengo, Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, appointed Cardinal by Pope Francis on May 29, 2022, and concelebrated by Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, Apostolic Nuncio of Korea and Mongolia. Also present at the celebration were the Animator, Sr. Maria Domenica Chang Kye Ja, and the missionary Sr. Aleth Evangelista, from the Community of Mary Help of Christians in Ulaanbataar, from Morning Star Province of Korea (KOR).
Archbishop Xuereb began the homily with the words of Jesus, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16: 15-18). He then took up the Gospel of the day when, to the questions of a young man who asks “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” and “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan who, moved by compassion, helps the man who has run into robbers until he is completely healed (Lk 10: 25-37).
“This requires faith and here in Mongolia we are all brothers and sisters, regardless of differences of creed, religion, ideas, and culture. The missionaries who have lived with the people for the past 30 years have learned the elements of the rich culture, the language, and responding to God’s will, have left their homes and lands and offered to educate young people, be with people, and bring the Good News to the poor. The missionaries share and respond generously to God’s call, going out and reaching everyone, especially the excluded, and nothing is more precious than this: sharing God’s gift of eternal life”. The Nuncio concluded the homily by inviting all to proclaim with and like Mary, the greatness of the Lord for the great things He accomplished in Mongolia.
30 years ago, two Filipino pioneer missionaries and one Belgian from the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM), led by Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, embarked on the journey to “the land of the eternal blue sky”, to begin the Catholic missions. According to the first Catholic Bishop of the Apostolic Prefecture of Ulaanbataar, Bishop Wens, as he was affectionately called, they began the work without structures, without contacts, without anything, basing everything on the words of Jesus, “Come and see”. Gradually, people began to gather to celebrate Mass with them.
Today the Catholic Church in Mongolia has more than 1,300 faithful out of a total of three and a half million inhabitants. There are eight parishes and more than sixty between missionaries of different nationalities and Congregations who meet regularly (Source: Agenzia Fides). The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians have been present in Mongolia since 2007. They direct a diocesan Kindergarten and Primary School and are engaged in pastoral activities in the parish and in the Youth Center.
Before concluding the Mass, one of the three pioneer missionaries, Fr. Gilbert Sales, CICM, brought his greeting underlining that the most important bond with the people is constituted by the love and constant presence of God. God continues to reveal His face to the people of Mongolia.
The Holy Mass was followed by lunch and a fraternal moment in which each group of the Catholic Church in Mongolia expressed their gratitude and passion through performances with music and dances. Bishop Giorgio Marengo also gave his contribution, accompanying a song in the Mongolian language with the guitar. At the end, the future Cardinal expressed his appreciation and gratitude, bestowing the blessing on everyone for a more fruitful, united, and dynamic Catholic Church in Mongolia.