Seoul (Fides Service) – “Mongolia, a world where in the past the Catholic faith was banned, has begun to taste the first fruits of evangelisation. For this we offer heartfelt thanks to the Church in Korea for her missionaries and her strong support.” These words are part of a letter written by Philippines born Bishop Wens Padilla, first Bishop of Ulan Baator capital of Mongolia to the Korean Bishops’ Conference. Appreciation for the work of Korean missionaries in Mongolia was also expressed by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples during his recent visit to Ulaan Baator.
Close collaboration between the Church in Korea and the Catholic community in Mongolia began six years ago and today there are three priests and members of two religious congregations. Father Robert Lee Jun Hwa, of Taejon diocese, the first Korean pries sent on mission to Mongolia began his work in 1997 among the poor farmers and peasants. He was joined in 2000 by Father Stephen Kim who focussed on pastoral ministry to the small community. The third missionary is Father Simon Lee ho-yeol of the Society of St Francis de Sales. There are also a group of Sisters of St Paul de Chartres from Korea who are engaged in education of children and youth and assistance to poor families.
Recently a delegation of the Korean Bishops’ Conference visited the missionaries in Mongolia. The delegation was led by Archbishop Paul Ri of Taegu who encouraged his fellow country men and women to carry on their precious mission and to show the people of Mongolia that “the many human needs cannot be met only with material aid, the greatest need can only be satisfied with God’s love”.
In Mongolia there are about 1,000 Korean immigrants working in various sectors. Thirty of them are Catholics who attend Sunday Mass and take an active part in the activities of the small Catholic community. “The example of Koreans is very important for the local people” Father Stephen Kim told Fides Service “we do our best with the help of God”. PA (Fides Service 8/9/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 478)