Rome (Italy). On 6 July 2023, the Vatican Press Office announced the program of the apostolic visit of Pope Francis to Mongolia, which will take place from 31 August to 4 September 2023.
On Friday 1 September, he will arrive in the morning at the “Chinggis Khaan” International Airport of Ulaanbaatar. The following day, in the “Ikh Mongol” hall of the State Palace, he will meet the authorities, civil society, and the diplomatic corps, the President of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh, and the Prime Minister.
In the afternoon, there will be a meeting with Bishops, priests, missionaries, consecrated men and women, and pastoral workers. On 3 September, there will be the ecumenical and interreligious encounter in the “Hun Theater” and the Holy Mass inside the “Steppe Arena”. The trip will end on 4 September with an encounter with the charity workers and the inauguration of the house of mercy, and the farewell ceremony.
The news of the apostolic visit of the Holy Father Francis to Mongolia was long awaited by the young Church, which in 2022 celebrated the 30th anniversary of presence in the Country with the presence of Bishop Giorgio Marengo, Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, created Cardinal by the Holy Consistory of 27 August 2022.
The first evangelization of Mongolia was by the work of the Nestorians who arrived from Persia in the 7th century. It was only officially entrusted to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the first half of the 20th century. The communist regime of the time then stopped the work of the missionaries, who were able to resume the mission in 1991, after the end of the communist dictatorship. From that moment on, the influx of men and women missionaries began. In 2007, the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Morning Star Province (KOR) reached Mongolia.
Present in Ulaanbaatar with Mary Help of Christians Community, the FMA deal with the education of boys and girls in nursery and elementary schools. The construction of the middle school is planned in order to integrate education in all young age groups. In addition to school activities, the Sisters manage Mary Help of Christians Center, with extra-curricular activities and an Oratory. Together with the Apostolic Prefecture of Ulaanbaatar, a second educational-evangelizing presence is being planned for young people in another place.
The Mongolian Church has something of the Church of its origins. It is small, young, without many structures, but with strong ties between the missionaries and their Bishop, Cardinal Marengo; between the small flock of Christians and their pastors. Even if the evangelization of this country is not easy, the heart of Mongolia is deep and inside there are the seeds of transcendence, of the search for something greater, almost like the size and breadth of the lands that surround the inhabitants.
From the point of view of officiality, the Pope’s visit has great importance in facilitating bilateral relations between the Church and the Mongolian government, undoubtedly important for the organization of the ecclesial apostolic mission in this continuously developing country.
This is what is also expressed by the motto of the trip – “Hope together” – which expresses the dual meaning of the journey, as pastoral visit and state visit, in which the Christian virtue of hope is shared and requires collaboration.
In the logo, above the writing is the map of the country, dotted with the colors of the national flag (red and blue); in the center a ger, the traditional house, from which yellow smoke (the color of the Vatican) rises upwards. On the right stands a cross. The cross and the ger are contained between two vertical writings which express the motto in the traditional Mongolian language.
Much prayer is therefore needed for Mongolian Catholics and their pastors, for men and women missionaries, for pastoral workers, collaborators in the various charitable and human promotion activities, so that they may find enlightenment and evangelizing strength through the presence and the words of Pope Francis. Through this, may the young missionary Church grow confident, supported by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit in the “Country with eternally blue skies”.