"I want to get to know the Churches of Korea and Mongolia as much as possible, so that I can love and serve them". "I have always admired the enthusiasm of missionaries. I hope to become like them and carry on the evangelizing work, talking about Jesus and welcoming new Christians into the Church ".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "I want to continue in the footsteps of my predecessors, I will do my small part to build bridges”, says Msgr. Alfred Xuereb (photo), the new apostolic nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, a few weeks ahead of his departure for Asia, scheduled for late May. Already prelate Secretary General of the Secretariat for the Economy and special secretary of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, last February 26 the Holy See had announced the appointment and elevation at the same time to the titular see of Amantea (CS), with dignity of archbishop.
"These are very intense days", says the 59-year-old Maltese prelate. "At the moment I am dealing with the logistical aspects of my transfer to South Korea. The task conferred on me by the Holy Father requires great responsibility and I thank him for the trust granted to me. I was very pleased that Msgr. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, president of the Episcopal Conference of Korea (Cbck), was in Rome and visited me. Speaking of my arrival in the country, he told me: 'We will follow your instructions'. I replied: 'No Excellency, we will learn to get to know each other and help each other in a mutual way. The only instructions will be given by the Holy Father. I want to know the Churches of Korea and Mongolia as deeply as possible, so that I can love and serve them. In doing so, I hope to sanctify myself with them ".
"I want to continue in the footsteps of my predecessors, I will do my small part to build bridges. First of all with the bishops and their collaborators, so that their bond with Peter is ever stronger. But not only, even between the Church and other religions. My motto 'Ut unum sint' is the prayer that Jesus addressed to the Father and it means precisely this: that all be one, so that the world may believe. I trust a lot in this sentence of the testament of Jesus and for this reason I intend to try to build bridges, also on a cultural level ".
The nunciature will immerse Msgr. Xuereb in two very different realities, whose stories are united by the deep missionary commitment of those who brought the Gospel there. It was only in 1992 that Mongolia accepted the presence of the Catholic Church in the country, where today there are seven parishes, 77 missionaries, a local priest and 1255 baptized. The more than 230 years of the Church in Korea are instead a story of martyrdom and action, from which an active and participatory Catholic community emerged for the reconciliation of the Korean people, close to the marginalized and supporters of democracy and human rights. Moreover, the Korean Church has long supported the mission in Mongolia: the first Mongolian priest in fact studied in the South Korean diocese of Daejeon.
"Despite being a small community of only 1,300 Catholics, the Mongolian Church will have my full attention and I have proposed my diocese of Gozo (Malta) twin with it, so that it can be helped, even from a financial point of view, in pastoral needs and evangelization. I am already in touch with Fr. Giorgio Marengo, a Consolata missionary priest who has been in the country for 15 years, who gave me the wonderful news of the celebration of eight baptisms on Easter night. Since the days of the seminary, I have always admired the enthusiasm of missionaries. I hope to become like them and carry on the evangelizing work, talking about Jesus and welcoming new Christians in the Church ".
In these days, Msgr. Xuereb followed with particular interest the positive developments of the inter-Korean summit. In this regard, the new apostolic nuncio states: "By virtue of the mandate given to me by the Pope, I follow the development of the dialogue between the two Koreas with deep attention and I have a great deal of concern for their outcome. The bridges that I want to build are also those that concern harmony and collaboration, not just the lack of conflict between countries. As requested by the Pope, I offer special prayers and invite other people to do the same. Once in Korea, if I can give my practical help, I will do so with all my heart ".
Born in Rabat (Malta) on October 14, 1958, Msgr. Xuereb was ordained priest of the diocese of Gozo on May 26, 1984. After completing his studies in Theology, he began his administrative service at the secretariat of the rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in September 1991. From September 1995, he worked in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See and from November 2000 in the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household. On 12 September 2007, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Msgr. Xuereb second private secretary and Pope Francis, after his election on March 13, 2013, appointed him his particular secretary. On November 28, 2013, he assumed the role of delegate for the Pontifical Commission referent on the Institute for the Works of Religion and for the Pontifical Commission for study and guidance on the organization of the economic-administrative structure of the Holy See. From March 2014 until his appointment as apostolic nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, he served as prelate secretary general of the Secretariat for the Economy.