09/26/2018, 12.30
MONGOLIA
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Mongolia’s first bishop, Msgr. Wenceslao Padilla, has died

Ordained priest in 1976, the Filipino prelate reached Mongolia in 1992 together with two confreres to open a mission. In August 2003, he was named bishop of Mongolia by Pope John Paul II. Throughout the country there are now seven parishes and three missionary centers, serving about 1,300 Catholics. In 2016, Msgr. Padilla celebrated the ordination of the first Mongolian priest.

Ulaanbaatar (AsiaNews) - Mongolian Catholics are mourning the sudden death of Msgr. Wenceslao Selga Padilla (photo), apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar and first bishop of the young Catholic community in Mongolia. The Filipino prelate, belonging to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Cicm), died yesterday in the Mongolian capital at the age of 68, from a heart attack.

Ordained priest in 1976, Msgr. Padilla reached Mongolia in 1992 together with two confreres, to open a mission "where the Church had no physical structure or members to be considered its own". The country had just abolished the Soviet-style socialist political system and established diplomatic relations with the Holy See. "The idea of giving birth to a Church from nothing seemed like a frightening effort, full of challenges, but also of excitement", the bishop told AsiaNews in 2012.

In August 2003, he was named bishop of Mongolia by Pope John Paul II. With his work, Msgr. Padilla has contributed to the growth of the local Church. Throughout the country there are now seven parishes and three missionary centers, serving about 1,300 Catholics. There are 77 missionaries in all, coming from 22 nations of the world and belonging to 10 congregations. Among these, there are 26 priests and 45 nuns, plus a voluntary lay woman. On August 28th 2016, Msgr. Padilla celebrated the historic ordination of Fr. Joseph Enkhee-Baatar, the first Mongolian priest, in the cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Ulaanbaatar.

Two weeks ago, the apostolic prefect had taken part in a pilgrimage to Seoul along with other Asian bishops. On September 14th, at the sanctuary of the Seosomun martyrs, the ceremony with which the Vatican proclaimed the South Korean capital "international pilgrimage site" took place.

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