This August 28 the first priest native to Mongolia will be ordained. The Apostolic Prefect, the Nuncio and the Bishop of Daejeon where the young man attended the seminary will preside. Missionary to Arvaikheer: "His testimony will help young Mongolians who are experiencing a process of vocational discernment." Joy and satisfaction of the local community: "If he has done it, we can do it too."
Arvaikheer (AsiaNews) - The Catholic community of Mongolia "is happy and proud of its first priest. Joseph Enkh-Baatar is faced with a great task: that of being a bridge between the Catholic culture and Mongolian culture. We'll we will support him as much as possible: I am sure that he will be able to face the challenges facing this young Church with the right sensitivity", Giorgio Marengo, Consolata missionary tells AsiaNews. He has lived in Mongolia since 2003 and from 2006 in Arvaikheer: the area is 400 kilometers from the capital Ulaanbaatar, and in fact is an outpost of the Catholic mission in Mongolia.
This August 28, in the Cathedral dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul in Ulaanbaatar, the first ordination of this community will be celebrated. Born July 10, 1992 with the arrival of three missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM), the Mongolian Church counts little more than 1,000 faithful. Together with them almost 25 foreign missionaries and about 50 religious.
The ordination will be presided by the Apostolic Prefect, Msgr. Wenceslao Padilla (one of the first three missionaries to reach the country); Concelebrating with him, Archbishop. Lazarus YouHeung-sik, bishop of Daejeon (South Korea) and Msgr. Osvaldo Padilla, apostolic nuncio to Korea and Mongolia.
The ceremony will also feature the regional superior of the Maryknoll, Fr. Gerard Hammond, who helped the Korean Catholic community in preparing the future priest. Joseph has in fact attended the seminar in Daejeon, and was ordained a deacon there.
The mission in Arvaikheer, resumes Fr. Marengo, "is home to 15 of us. We are reciting a novena asking the intercession of St. Paul for him, while Enkh is in retreat. The common feeling is of joy but also of satisfaction: many of our parishioners live this ordination as the deepening of a journey of faith, which has enabled us to reach an important goal. And I hope that in some way this celebration can help other young Mongolians to follow his example".
Although still a very small community, in fact, the Mongolian Church has for some time a "Vocational Team" which follows a group of young men and women: "The sisters and fathers who accompany these young people do not want in any way to force their hand. It is a journey of discernment, which must continue in truth. Of course, Enkh's ordination stimulates this search. The important thing is to present it and live it in the right way: it is a first for the country, we have to make sure that it is understood that the priesthood is not a career but a calling".
With regards the vocation of the new priest, Fr. Marengo has great hope: "He knows Mongolian history, culture, religion and tradition. This is a peculiar people, proud and full of an ancient spiritual tradition. I hope he can become a bridge between the Church and the Mongols, that he can help them understand and can be understood by them. The Mongolian sensitivity is very strong, made up of many facets that often a foreigner cannot grasp".