Greetings from Arvaiheer, 400kms south of the capital Ulaanbaatar, where we missionaries working in Asia have just finished our assembly. This gathering was done in a wider context, which included our annual spiritual exercises and some visits, including 3 days in the Gobi desert and a courtesy call to Bishop Padilla, the only prelate in Mongolia, where the Catholic community is formed by 800 faithful. Unfortunately, our Fr. John Kapule (from Kenya) had to stay back in Korea for health reasons.
Two years ago, this assembly took place in Korea with the presence of the whole general counsel. This time, we had with us two of its members: Fr. Pendawazima and Fr. Ugo Pozzoli. Moreover, our “Asian family” is growing: as you know, this year three of our confreres with begin our missionary presence in Taiwan. This is why they joined us for this gathering, because the analysis focused on our mission in this continent at the present time and the perspectives concerning our future also include them from now on. The assembly was divided in two parts: the first was devoted to general information regarding our experience in both Korea and Mongolia, as well as the presentation of the Taiwan mission project. The second part was centered on our missionary project for Asia, based on the basic elements which will be the core of the proposals for the upcoming “Consulta” which will take place this coming October.
After the presentation of the material, the election of the secretary and a brief report presented by our continental counselor, Fr. Ugo, we listened to the experience Fr. Piero Trabucco who recently visited three Asian countries. Some of his remarks were quite helpful as far our choice of a fourth country is concerned. Then came the main course: the presentation of our missionary realities of Korea, Mongolia and an introduction to Taiwan and its Consolata members. In the end, Fr. Ernesto Viscardi presented Cambodia, a country he visited last November in the quality of Apostolic Vicar.
The second part of the assembly was focused on some aspects concerning our mission and its project. The first one was focused on several proposals regarding the future missionary presence in Asia. In other words, what comes next after we start in Taiwan? Various countries were mentioned as possible destinations, based on specific characteristics which are part and parcel of our identity as both missionaries and religious (ad gentes, missionary animation, the poor, vocations, etc.). One of the suggestions concerns the formation of a commission which will conduct both theoretical dossiers and practical visits to some countries. The second element concerns the information towards the Institute regarding our mission as such, also because the last Chapter determined as priority the mission in Asia. The information directed towards seminaries was once again mentioned as important, among others.
Other aspects included the topic reorganization and re-structuring of our Asian group within a larger context which is taking place in the Institute as a whole: is it necessary? If yes, how? The issue of formation – both for Asian vocations and for those destined to work in Asia – were also part of the discussion, as well as the collaboration with our Consolata Sisters, among others.
All these aspects are precisely the contents of our proposal to be presented at the “Consulta”, in order to foster a continuous and dynamic presence and activity in this vast continent, which is also the least evangelized.
We concluded our Assembly with the Eucharist, where our three “Taiwanese” were symbolically given the missionary sending, being presented with a stole which was offered by the bishop of Taipei and a small bag made by our Mongolian friends here at the Arvaiheer mission. Of course, their official missionary sending will take place in Rome, but it was a nice gesture of communion and family spirit. Now that the easy part is done, let us invoke the Holy Spirit so that we may renew our missionary zeal and become faithful witnesses of the Gospel and God’s consolation and love for this continent.