Have horse, will evangelise: The origins of the Mongolian Church

June 3, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Mongolia, June 03, 2016 : Good news from an unexpected and little known quarter of the Universal Church: the first native Mongolian priest is shortly to be ordained, writes Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith in The Catholic Herald.

Congratulations to the Reverend Joseph Enkh. May he be the first of many Mongolians to be ordained, and may his ministry bring joy and consolation to God’s faithful people in Mongolia.

The Fides news service carries the story here. It also reports that there are about 1000 faithful in Mongolia, which is remarkable, as the Church has only been functioning in the country since 1992.

I have something of an interest in the Mongolian Church as one of my former students from Africa, a Consolata Missionary, was sent there on ordination. He was an Italian, and the third priest to go there, if memory serves, and thus something of a pioneer.

Setting up a Church from scratch is quite a task, and it was entrusted to, among others, priests trained in Africa, because they would be familiar with just how this is done.

How missions are started is quite instructive, particularly for people like us, who live in England many centuries after St Augustine first landed in Kent. In Mongolia, there were some resident foreign Catholics, working in embassies and for aid organisations, and thus at the beginning there was a congregation for the missionaries to say Mass for.

But apart from this, the first missionaries to arrive back in 1992, when the country opened up to the world, would have been regarded as very strange, almost like visitors from another world.

The most important thing for any mission is to establish a way into the culture of the country it aims to evangelise. This means in the very first place learning the language, which can be quite hard.

It also means trying to understand the mindset of the people whose language you learn. Mongolia presents particular challenges. There are cities, but much of the population is very thinly spread out over the vast territory, which consists of wide grasslands.

– cns

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