Ulaanbaatar (AsiaNews) - Enkh-Baatar is the first Mongolian Catholic to enter a seminary, but the local Catholic Church, which marks its 20th anniversary tomorrow, is unable to promote actively vocations. "It is too early to have that," said Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar. Local "young people, both boys and girls, have still to deepen their faith and learn to know Christ."
Enkh-Baatar is the exception. Baptised as Joseph, he left his country on 28 August of last year for Daejeon diocese in South Korea, where he will first study Korean for six months and then begin classes at Daejeon Seminary. The local bishop, Mgr Lazarus you, is very proud of the diocese's hospitality.
Before joining the seminary, the 21-year-old parishioner from Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral in Ulaanbaatar, graduated in biochemistry from the Mongolian International University, an institution run by Korean Protestants.
"I wanted to go to the seminary right after finishing school, but my family and everybody in the mission, including the bishop, advised me to go to university first. I was very disappointed," Enkh-Baatar said. However, it was the right decision.
"I later saw that my elders were wise," he admitted. "Science brought me to closer to understanding God's creation."
After the young man earned his university degree, Mgr Padilla approved his application to become a priest.
The bishop noted that in the capital a group of boys and young men is involved in "intensive immersion in Catholic life," even though not all plan to be priests.
For the Filipino missionary, if vocations are to be encouraged, they should be for the local diocese, "not to be members of the religious congregations." The first task is "to build up the local Church in Mongolia."
Joseph agrees. "If I join a congregation, they might send me to another country. I see myself as a priest in my own land. I am sure this is what Mongolia needs."
At present, all priests and nuns in the Mongolian Church are foreigners, he explained.