UlaanBaatar (Agenzia Fides) – The little Catholic Church in Mongolia has a new parish: on the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, 11 June 2017, the Church of Divine Mercy in Erdenet, 380 km north of Ulaanbaatar, was raised to the rank of parish by the Prefect Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar Bishop Wenceslao S. Padilla, CICM. The new Divine Mercy parish is one of three to be established to mark celebrations for 25 years of Catholic presence in Mongolia.
This sign of great hope reflects the growing community of Mongolian Catholics. The Divine Mercy community was started in 2013, when Congolese missionary Fr. Prosper Mbumba, CICM (Congregation of Immaculate Mary, also known as of Scheut missionaries,) began his service to the small group of three baptized Catholics in that city. The aim was to accompany three people in the life of faith and “not leave them like sheep without a shepherd”, Fides was told by the priest who at the time was supervisor at a kindergarten preschool structure for less fortunate children run by the CICM Congregation since 2002.
“At that time– Fr. Prosper Mbumba told Fides, – once a month I celebrated Mass for three Catholics. I remember that once I was accompanied by a few confreres and so we priests outnumbered the faithful in the congregation. In 2013 on Christmas Eve I celebrated Mass with two people and the next day, Christmas Day, there were three”.
“Gradually the community – he continues– began to grow, because the three lay faithful started bringing friends, relations and neighbours. Since 2015 the community had been gathering every Sunday and so we had the idea of requesting institutional recognition. In 2016, the Holy Year of Mercy, the local government granted legal status (which is necessary) for this Catholic community. This is why our community decided to take as its name and holy patron Divine Mercy”.
Now we hope to “build up and live in a community in which priests and lay people can irradiate the Gospel and announce the presence of the Lord to the people here in Erdenet”, said Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, in his affectionate words to the faithful of the new parish. Fr. Prosper Mbumba is now the first parish priest of Divine Mercy parish and on the occasion of that celebration a new member, an adult, was welcomed into the Church receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation .
Since then the parish has celebrated a wedding and six baptisms. Many people, young and adults attend catechism classes. “The Catholic church in Mongolia, with its 1,300 baptised Catholics and a locally born priest looks to the future with confidence”, Fr. Mbumba concluded. (PA-MP) (Agenzia Fides 13/6/2017)