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MONGOLIA: First native priest

Mongolia witnessed the ordination of its first indigenous priest, Fr. Joseph Enkh Baatar (in photo), a 29-year-old man who represents the first fruits of 24 years of missionary work in the east Asian country.

Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, the prefect of Ulaanbaatar, ordained Joseph Enkh Baatar a priest at St. Peter and Paul Cathedral (in photo) in the Mongolian capital. The Bishop praised God for the historic moment of the apostolic prefecture's first native vocation, and prayed that many more such vocations would arise to help the local Church.

More than 1,500 persons attended the Mass, including dignitaries of foreign embassies, local Orthodox churches, and Buddhist monks. The Mass was followed by a joyous festival.

Fr. Baatar was born on June 24, 1987. He lost his father at a young age, and his sister introduced him to the Catholic faith. His dream of joining the priesthood was initially postponed due to his family's strong desire that he complete his university studies. After graduating with a degree in biotechnology and with the support of his family, he then applied to become a seminarian of the Prefecture Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar. Fr. Baatar entered the Daejeon Seminary in South Korea, and was ordained a deacon in December, 2014.

Concluding the Mass, the newly-ordained priest profoundly thanked his family and his mentors at the Seminary, especially Bishop You. He also praised the important role played by Bishop Padilla through his support of his vocation. “I thank the Lord who has called me to serve Him through the priesthood. I am also grateful to all the people who have helped me respond to this calling,” Fr. Baatar expressed.

A little over half of Mongolia's population is Buddhist, and following the decades of communist rule, 39 percent of Mongolia's population is non-religious. Islam, Shamanism, and Christianity have mere footholds among the people.

The Prefecture Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar serves all of the estimated 1,200 Catholics in the country, which has a population of 3 million. In 2014, the local Church had three diocesan priests who were aided by 14 religious.


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