What a great story! I received this today as a press release from the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. In the midst of an event as important as a synod and so many other breaking stories from Rome and around the world, positive news can often be overlooked, thus I want to share this story about our Catholic brothers and sisters in an almost forgotten corner of the earth. A wonderful story about a bishop, a young Catholic Church and Missio.
FIRST BISHOP OF MONGOLIA TO CELEBRATE WORLD MISSION SUNDAY IN LONDON
Bishop Wenceslao ‘Wens’ Padilla, the first and only bishop of Mongolia, will visit London this year upon the invitation of Missio, to celebrate World Mission Sunday on October 18. As the Pope’s official charity for overseas mission, Missio is focusing on the world’s youngest Catholic Church that was established in Mongolia just over twenty years ago following the fall of communism. In 1992, the future Bishop Wens, a Filipino from the Italian Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and two fellow missionary priests, arrived in Mongolia and began ministering out of a hotel room. They celebrated Mass with expatriates and slowly their Mongolian friends began to accompany them. Before long, the first Catholic Church building was being constructed, supported by Missio.
Bishop Wens recalls that when he first arrived, the country, which was mostly comprised of nomadic herders, had no knowledge of Christianity, and the community was struggling with alcoholism, domestic abuse, minimal government social services and extreme poverty.
The Bishop worked hard to understand the needs of the people, leading to several initiatives that continue today, including a care center for children who were homeless, schools, clinics and training centers for vocational skills. “All cater to the very poor,” says Bishop Wens, “those that have no clothes to wear, no food, no family.”
In an effort to share God’s love, the young Mongolian Church continues to struggle to provide food, shelter, schooling and medical care to all who need it, including a growing community of Catholics. But with extra resources there are so many more lives the church could transform.
World Mission Sunday is celebrated by Catholics in every country where the Church is present. On October 18, parishes all over the world will be encouraged to pray for the missionary work of the Church and share what they can to support faith communities overseas that are in urgent need.
Bishop Wens will deliver the homily at all the Masses on the weekend of October 18 at Westminster Cathedral. He and his fellow missionaries rely on the worldwide Catholic family, therefore he is incredibly grateful for this support and says, “Although I’ve seen many Mongolians come to know Christ, there are still so many more that need to be reached. I want to continue reaching out to the poor and am grateful for the love and support of our sisters and brothers in England and Wales.”
Msgr. Canon James Cronin, national director of Missio in England and Wales, reminds us, “World Mission Sunday is an opportunity for the family of the Church to support its youngest member, the Church of Mongolia.”
Pope Francis, in his message for World Mission Sunday declared: ‘Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people.’ As the Pope’s official charity for overseas mission, Missio has the responsibility of raising funds to support the Church where it is too young or too poor to support itself.
Mongolia is the focus of the World Mission Sunday 2015 collection and money raised in parishes across England and Wales will go to support the work of missionaries like Bishop Wens all around the world. As part of the worldwide Pontifical Mission Societies, Missio supports all of the Churches that are young and poor and the World Mission Sunday collection will also be helping our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.
ABOUT MISSIO: World Mission Sunday is coordinated by Missio, the Pope’s official charity for overseas mission. The World Mission Sunday collection is one of just three personally requested by the Pope each year. This event takes place annually on the penultimate Sunday in October.
Missio worldwide supports every mission diocese overseas (1,069) until they are self-sufficient. It exists because 40% of the Catholic Church cannot support itself. These are mainly churches in Africa and Asia where parishioners do not earn enough money to support their parish priest and their outreach projects. Missio focuses on four main areas of provision: the building of Church infrastructure and support of faith communities, the training of future priests and religious sisters, support of vulnerable children through faith, health and education projects and the promotion of world mission through prayer and study