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The Intervention
Card. Marengo: in Mongolia the first to be baptized were women

Praying together in a yurt

  Pregare insieme nella ger  DCM-003
02 March 2024

The gift of mission is at the heart of the Church. From that morning when the stone was rolled away from the tomb, through the vibrant Pentecost experience, the believing community has felt led to share the immense joy of the resurrection. Moreover, to offer people of all cultures the concrete opportunity to experience this new reality in their own lives. These were men and women in that first core of disciples-missionaries; and they are still men and women continuing in today’s world the same dynamic of proclamation and witness. Missionary life can help to have a broad and enriching look at the masculine and feminine in the Church.

My experience in this regard is very positive and I am grateful for that. Since childhood, the co-presence of the masculine and feminine has been part of the normality of my daily life, starting with the family - in which with my sister there has always been a very constructive and enriching relationship - then in school and through Scouting (boys and girls), which marked my younger years. After graduating from high school, I joined the Missionaries of the Consolata, which is an institute founded by Blessed Giuseppe Allamano to form men and women religious for the missio ad gentes. A single founder gave life to a congregation with a male and female face, imparting the same teachings to one and the other, thinking precisely of the family, with full respect for diversity, but with the conviction that for the achievement of the ultimate goal (first evangelization) it takes men and women consecrated to God for this purpose. Not just each other, but together.

Blessed Allamano was right. I touched Him personally from that very first day when I set foot in Mongolia; indeed, even before that, since there was a preparation just before departure in which we were given the opportunity to get to know each other and deepen the original inspiration of our charism. In the first Consolata group in Mongolia, there were five of us: three sisters, another priest and myself. A mission such as this, which is characterized by extreme conditions – there is less than 1 percent of Catholics compared to the entire population; a climate ranging from -40 degrees in winter to +40 degrees in summer; a language that is difficult to learn -, requires a certain self-denial and much sincerity with oneself. Character traits, both good and bad, appear under the transparent light of the Mongolian sky, whether it be a man or a woman. In this wilderness experience, men and women work together, in the diversity of vocations, in essential harmony. We do so because we feel humble, equal in our indigence in the face of the task entrusted to us (the proclamation of the Gospel), which can only be accomplished in faith over time and in full freedom, whether we are priests, women religious or bishops.

For me, a shared mission has been and continues to be a source of integral humanization. It is also one of the conditions for mission vitality, because the mutual respect and esteem that missionaries have for each other is part of the witness given in the name of the Gospel. In the remote parish of Arvaikheer, where I have been for several years, the first baptized groups consisted entirely of women. As at the tomb, women arrived first, bringing with them their husbands, sons and fathers. Many women also carried the burden of their families alone. During Eucharistic adoration, in the round ger-shaped church, we pray together, religious men and women, all around the Blessed Sacrament. In the diversity of our respective roles, let us carry fourth discernment and missionary work together, and find in prayer the living source of our being sons and daughters of God.

Cardinal, Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)