Bishop Wenceslao ‘Wens’ Padilla, the first and only Bishop of Mongolia, will visit London this year invited by Missio, to celebrate World Mission Sunday on 18 October. As the Pope’s official charity for overseas mission, Missio is focusing on the world’s youngest Catholic Church which was established in Mongolia just over twenty years ago following the fall of communism.
In 1992, the future Bishop Wens, a Filipino from the Italian Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and two fellow missionary priests, arrived in Mongolia and began ministering out of a hotel room. They celebrated Mass with expatriates and slowly their Mongolian friends began to accompany them. Before long, the first Catholic Church building was being constructed, supported by Missio.
Bishop Wens recalls that when he first arrived, the country, which was mostly comprised of nomadic herders, had no knowledge of Christianity, and the community were struggling with alcoholism, domestic abuse, minimal government social services and extreme poverty.
The Bishop worked hard to understand the needs of the people, leading to several initiatives that continue today. They include a care centre for children who were homeless, schools, clinics and training centres for vocational skills.
“All cater to the very poor,” says Bishop Wens, “those that have no clothes to wear, no food, no family.”
In an effort to share God’s love, the young Mongolian church continues to struggle to provide food, shelter, schooling and medical care to all who need it, including a growing community of Catholics. But with extra resources there are so many more lives the church could transform.
World Mission Sunday is celebrated by Catholics in every country where the Church is present. On 18 October, parishes all over the world will be encouraged to pray for the missionary work of the Church and share what they can to support faith communities overseas which are in urgent need.
Bishop Wens will be delivering the homily at all the Masses on the weekend of 18 October at Westminster Cathedral. He and his fellow missionaries rely on the worldwide Catholic family, therefore he is incredibly grateful for this support and says, “Although I’ve seen many Mongolians come to know Christ, there are still so many more that need to be reached. I want to continue reaching out to the poor and am grateful for the love and support of our sisters and brothers in England and Wales.”
Mgr Canon James Cronin, National Director of Missio in England and Wales, reminds us, “World Mission Sunday is an opportunity for the family of the Church to support its youngest member, the Church of Mongolia.”
Pope Francis, in his message for World Mission Sunday declared: ‘Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people.’ As the Pope’s official charity for overseas mission, Missio has the responsibility of raising funds to support the Church where it is too young or too poor to support itself.
Mongolia is the focus of the World Mission Sunday 2015 collection and money raised in parishes across England and Wales will go to support the work of missionaries, like Bishop Wens, all around the world. As part of the worldwide Pontifical Mission Societies, Missio supports all of the Churches which are young and poor and the World Mission Sunday collection will also be helping our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.
To make a donation, or to find out more, please visit www.missio.org.uk/wms