Sr. Agnes: 'Our joy in Mongolia for Pope Francis' visit'
by sr. Agnes Gangmei

The account of an Indian Salesian missionary ministering among the just 1,500 Mongolian Catholics who will welcome the pontiff from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4. "Our people feel privileged, honored and blessed by this gift. Let us pray that it will bring steps forward, facilitating the service that the Church offers to all in education and charity."

In recent days, the Vatican released the program for Pope Francis' apostolic journey to Mongolia from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4. Sr. Agnes Gangmei, an Indian missionary of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, tells AsiaNews about the joy of the tiny local Catholic community for this gift that was in many ways unhoped for. A Salesian missionary in Ulan Bator since 2012, she has been back in India for 2 years for study and is preparing to return to Mongolia next year.

I am Sister Agnes Gangmei, of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians congregation, also known as Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco. I have been working in the land of Genghis Khan for more than a decade. I was very happy and overwhelmed with joy when I heard about the visit of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the land of Mongolia.

My feeling at this moment can be compared to that of St. Elizabeth who received a visit from Mary, "To what do I owe that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43). The people of Mongolia feel privileged, honored and blessed to welcome Pope Francis to our community.

Mongolia's Catholic community is very young and small. We have only about 1,500 baptized Catholics. It is one of the youngest missions that has just completed 30 years of Catholic presence among Mongolians. A visit by the Holy Father to Mongolia, where the Catholic presence is minimal, was not even in our dreams. However, we often hoped and prayed for it. And in the end, God heard our prayers and the Mongolian community gives thanks to God for sending him to our community with sincere gratitude for his sacrifice and unconditional love for God's people in the land of Mongolia.

His very presence speaks volumes about his immense love for the Mongolians, and no words are sufficient to thank him enough. I am sure that his visit will deepen and strengthen the faith of the Catholic community, revealing him as a good shepherd who cares for his sheep.

We hope that the Holy Father's visit will sooner rather than later bring progress on the issue of visas for missionaries stationed here. This has been one of the biggest problems faced by us missionaries in recent years. We pray and hope that better ties will be established between the Vatican and the land of Mongolia to enable us to live out our apostolate in different fields such as education, charity work, health care, social development and make our presence more productive.

I conclude here by extending my warmest welcome, sincerest appreciation and gratitude to Pope Francis for accepting through the voice of our Card. Marengo our invitation to visit us. The Holy Father is the true shepherd who knows his sheep, a model of one who practices what he preaches. His failing health and advancing age do not prevent him from going to the peripheries and touching the hearts of the marginalized. Mongolians feel indebted and are happy to have him among us.

This historic journey, his unconditional love and sacrifices for the Mongols will certainly touch the land of Genghis Khan and his people. We pray that abundant blessing will flow into our land through him to all Catholics, and also to Buddhists and those who follow shamanism. Assuring our love, prayers and best wishes....

God bless Pope Francis!

Sr. Agnes Gangmei

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed)