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By Sister Nellie Zarraga ICM
The consecration of Mongolia's first bishop, Wenceslao S. Padilla CICM, took place at 4:30 pm on 29 August 2003 in the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul in the western part of Ulaan Baatar. The procession included, along with young altar boys, two cardinals from Rome, bishops, monsignori, mission superiors, confreres and sisters from Kazakhstan, Philippines, Korea, Italy, Japan and India, in the age-old ritual in the newly constructed but yet unfinished church.
As the sun shone through the small stained-glass windows surrounding the dome of the Mongolian gir-like structure, my thoughts went to the meaning of the presence of the Church here.
I looked again around the windows and found six designs. At the very center, above the altar, was a cross; I thought of how Bishop Wens is the center of unity among the missionaries here, nine of whom are from the Philippines.
Beside the cross was a pair of hands; I thought of the hands of Sister M. Shehenna MC reaching out to the children of poor families in Yarmag, clothing and feeding them so that they can go to the nearby schools and have some kind of education to improve their families' lot, and the hands of Sr M. Milagrosa MC guiding the street children who go to the center of the Missionaries of Charity in Dar Ekh.
Next was the window depicting some bread; I thought of the bread baked by the community development project of ICM Sister Marife Sebial, and the bread of fellowship and dignity I share with persons with mental and learning disabilities.
Another window showed doves in flight; is this not the effect of the CICMs – Father Gilbert Sales caring for 120 street children, the pastoral work of Fr Philip Borla with the newly baptized Mongolian Catholics, and the youth animation of Brother Ronald Magbanua?
My eyes were caught by the symbol of the fish in another design; Salesian Fr Carlo Maria Villegas has cast his net among the poor youth who have dropped out of school but want some vocational and technical education in Don Bosco Technical and Vocational Center.
The last design is that of a flower in bloom. . . May all of us bloom with the grace of God and the accompaniment of one another as we go the way of Christ together. . . to the greater glory of God.
In the words of our new bishop to the Catholics of Mongolia, ‘Let this faith you have received, not from us, but through us, grow in you. . .’