09/28/2020, 13.43
MONGOLIA
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Darkhan: Krzysztof Gniazdowski, a Salesian for 25 years

Since 2007 he has been a missionary in Mongolia. After working in a technical school in the capital, he is now working at a youth centre in Darkhan where the parish has 250 members, all local. Poverty is widespread, including among youth.

Ulaanbaatar (AsiaNews/Bosco Link) – Brother Krzysztof Gniazdowski, the only Polish Salesian in Mongolia, recently celebrated 25 years of consecrated life as a lay missionary.

He took his vows on 22 August 1995 and was sent to Mongolia in 2007. Here, with his Salesian confreres, he became involved in the education of young people.

At first, Br Krzysztof worked at the technical school that the Salesians opened in the capital; now he works in Darkhan, in the far north of the country, in a youth centre linked to the parish of Mary Help of Christians.

“This is the only Catholic parish in Mongolia, where all 250 Catholics are Mongolian,” he told a Polish newspaper. By contrast, “In the capital we can meet also Koreans, Filipinos and a few other nationalities.”

The Church in Mongolia celebrated the 25th anniversary of its rebirth in 2017 with about a thousand members out of a population of more than three million.

Fr Krzysztof described his work as, above all, making friends and keep company with seniors, young people and children. On the weekend, he teaches catechism for catechumens and performs liturgical celebrations.

The embryonic character of evangelisation can be seen from the lack of wholly Christian families. Converts can be found here and there, one per family, as can be ascertained in meetings.

Dubbed the land of blue sky, Mongolia fascinates because of its landscapes, and its cultural and religious traditions. Most Mongolians follow shamanic practices and Buddhist (Tibetan) beliefs; less than 0.03 per cent are Catholic.

Br Krzysztof is struck by the profound poverty of the local population. “Some families in Mongolia live in extreme poverty,” he noted, languishing “on the city outskirts dump sites, their livelihood dependent entirely on recycled waste.”

“One day I was about to throw away my well-worn Adidas shoes,” when “I was approached by a boy who asked me to give him those worn-out Adidas shoes. On that same day, I saw him happily playing in the Oratory wearing my old shoes.

“My thought was simple: I have made a profession of poverty, but these young people are living it. Yes, the simplicity and humility of the Mongolians struck my heart. I’m learning a lot from Mongolian youth and their families”.

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