Ulaanbataar (Agenzia Fides) - "The ministry of the bishop in Mongolia is, in my view, very similar to the episcopal ministry of the early Church: we know how the apostles in the early days of Christianity testified to the risen Christ in conditions of absolute minority compared to the places and cultures where they stayed. For me it is a great responsibility that brings me closer to the true meaning of the mission", said the Prefect Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar, Giorgio Marengo, about his experiences in the Asian country and about the evangelization work of the church there.
Father Giorgio Marengo, who was ordained bishop only last August, came to Mongolia in 2003 with his confreres, the Consolata missionaries, to provide pastoral care to the small community of Arvaiheer in the Uvurkhangai region and to support them with initiatives and activities based on people's needs and problems: after-school childcare, public showers, a handicraft project for women, a day therapy center and a group for men with alcohol problems. "It is a complex and sometimes hard work, but it does not discourage these true 'Shepherds with the smell of sheep', the missionaries who live here and testify to the Gospel", said Msgr. Marengo. The Mongolian Church is young and small and lives on the periphery, so to speak, but it lovingly cares for 1,300 faithful out of a total population of three and a half million. The small number is inversely proportional to the commitment and dedication, based on brotherhood and harmony to the Christian roots of Syrian origin that have existed here since the 10th century and were, so to speak, "frozen" during the Mongol Empire. "For many centuries", Father Giorgio explains to Fides, "Christianity was not actively lived, which is why today, at a popular level, it is believed that it is something new, which has come from abroad in recent years. Today there are eight parishes and about sixty missionaries of different nationalities and Congregations who meet regularly to discuss problems together, coordinate activities and plan new initiatives. In 2022 we will celebrate 30 years of rebirth of the Catholic Church in this great Asian country".
"As for those who have received baptism - emphasizes the religious - it is necessary to continue the work of accompaniment and faith-building in order to help the believers grow in the faith: mission begins, above all, with deep listening to the Lord who sends us, the Spirit who dwells in us and shapes us, and the people to whom we are sent". The missionaries are men and women of profound spirituality, who from communion with Christ, receive the necessary wisdom used to empathize with the community: "For example, it is important to learn the language - observes the Bishop - or to refine the tools that allow to establish a relationship with people, trying to understand what their points of reference, history, cultural and religious roots are for them. There is an expression - says Msgr. Marengo - which I think may well reflect the nature of our missionary commitment that I heard from Msgr. Thomas Menamparampil, Archbishop Emeritus of Guwahati, India: we must whisper the Gospel to the heart of Asia. I like to apply this image to Mongolia: the proclamation of the Word of the Gospel, with a whisper, is therefore a constant work of evangelization that requires - he concludes - to enter into a authentic relationship with people; and, by virtue of this authentic relationship of friendship, we can share what is most precious to us: faith in our Lord Jesus Christ". (ES-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 7/8/2021)