Bishop details steady growth of Mongolian Church

The Church in Mongolia currently has 20 priests, two monks, and 49 nuns serving there, from 12 religious congregations.

May 26 2014, 1:57 PM
Bishop details steady growth of Mongolian Church
Bishop Wenceslao Padilla.

Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, prefect of Ulaanbaatar – the local Church covering all of Mongolia – spoke with Aid to the Church in Need earlier this month about the Church's growth in the country.

There were no parishes when the first foreign missionaries of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary arrived in 1992. Father Wenceslao Padilla, who was one of them, is now the Bishop of Mongolia.

“At that time, there were 114 Catholics in the country. That figure has slowly, but steadily grown,” Bishop Padilla reported that there are now 960 Catholics in the country, while Sister Sandra Garay, a member of the Consolata Missionaries who is serving there, put the figure at 1,200 in an August 2013 interview with CNA.

The prefecture apostolic has four parishes, as well as schools and social facilities, “which are expressly desired by the state,” Aid to the Church in Need wrote. The Church encounters tremendous challenges there – a nation covered by steppes which experience frigid winters, during which temperatures drop to as low as -22 Fahrenheit. Nearly half the country's people live in Ulaanbaatar, and many of the rest are nomadic.

The Church in Mongolia currently has 20 priests, two monks, and 49 nuns serving there, from 12 religious congregations.

A little over half Mongolia's population is Buddhist, and most of the remainder is non-religious. Islam, shamanism, and Christianity – primarily Protestantism – have mere footholds among the people. Buddhism has come to be seen as a part of Mongolian identity, with other religions regarded as foreign. Minors under the age of 16 can only participate in catechesis with the written consent of their parents, priests cannot be identifiable as such in public, and Christian profession is allowed only on Church premises.

“Mongolia is in a state of upheaval,” Bishop Padilla said. “People are becoming settled and no longer live as nomads. Then there is a growing materialism; many are turning away again from the faith.” And yet, he added, “since the end of communist rule people have basically opened up to the faith … certainly a lot depends on the dedication of the missionaries, but evangelization has many facets. Whatever we do, social work, education, humanitarian aid, it all has an impact on society.”

Source: Catholic News Agency

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