ASIA/MONGOLIA - Time of Creation 2023: Agricultural apostolate "should enable young people to get involved"

Friday, 1 September 2023 laudato sì   creation   safeguarding creation  

Darkhan (Agenzia Fides) - The "World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation", which is celebrated on 1 September, has a special meaning in Mongolia this year because it takes place in the presence of Pope Francis, who is on his 43rd apostolic journey (September 1-4) in Mongolia. The World Day of Prayer kicks off the "Time of Creation 2023" which will last until October 4 and, throughout the month, will see initiatives around the world on the theme "May justice and peace flow", many carried out by the "Laudato Sì Movement", across the five continents.
Meanwhile, in Darkhan, in northern Mongolia, the "time of creation" is accompanied in a special way, thanks to the Salesians of Don Bosco, who run a formation center in the parish of Saint Mary Help of Christians and start a special service there called "agricultural apostolate", "a fruit of creativity that allows many young people to get involved", Father Paul Leung, superior of the Salesian delegation of Don Bosco in Mongolia, told Fides.
"In a country characterized by a nomadic culture, agriculture is something new. And it is also a difficult challenge, since the winter season is very long and unfavorable for cultivation. That's why we built greenhouses where we grow vegetables and cultivating fruit trees and teaching the young people agricultural techniques and the beauty of the relationship with Mother Earth," reports the missionary. "In addition," says the religious, "many Mongolian families own a small piece of land given the vastness and availability of the available land and, with appropriate training, can set up their own farm and sell their products on the market: this can, in other words, become a source of livelihood and work for young Mongolians and their families".
In addition to the technical work in agriculture, the Salesians of Don Boscos also offer courses on topics related to the environment, climate change and other topics of the encyclical Laudato si', "topics of great importance for young Mongolians aged 14 to 18", said Father Leung. In fact, the farm founded by the Salesians wants "to be an authentic expression of the concern for the common home that is well expressed in Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si'", says Father Leung, who also follows the guidelines and programs of the worldwide network "Don Bosco Green Alliance".
Cultivation in an extreme climate (from 40° in summer to 40° below zero in winter) is the greatest difficulty faced by the religious and collaborators of the Salesian Mission of Don Bosco, who, however, have managed to bring young people into a sort of "agricultural oratory" where different types of vegetables are grown and harvested. The children and young people participate with joy and interest in the educational experience of the Salesian Center, where they take part in various agricultural activities in the morning and in educational and recreational activities in the afternoon. "Young people," explains Father Paul, "learn to cultivate the land, to love and respect nature, which we explain to them is God's gift and creation".
The Salesians of Don Bosco also organize an annual week dedicated to the deepening of Laudato si' and in the summer season they organize special "training camps" to "introduce people to a conscious approach to the creation that they inhabit" and around "to rediscover the very presence and action of God", the religious concludes. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 1/9/2023)