The people of Mongolia celebrate Christmas

ASIA / MONGOLIA - AT CHRISTMAS - A NORMAL WORKING DAY IN MONGOLIA - THE LITTLE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY BECOMES CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF THE LORD AT MIDNIGHT - CHILDREN AND GIFTS FOR STREET CHILDREN WHO HOLDS A MISSIONARY FROM THE DRAINAGE

Thursday December 18, 2003

Ulaanbaatar (Agenzia Fides) - "We are going to celebrate a Christmas of joy and hope in Mongolia, a country where the preaching of the Gospel only started 11 years ago," said the Prefect Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar, Bishop Wenceslao Padilla in conversation with Fides about the preparations and the atmosphere shortly before Christmas. “The three parishes of the Apostolic Prefecture are eagerly preparing for Christmas. December 25th is a completely normal working day in Mongolia, but we still try to create a festive and joyful atmosphere, the climax of which will be the midnight mass on December 24th, which is also attended by believers who have to work. "
According to Bishop Padilla, Christmas parties are celebrated for school children and their parents, in the prisons, with the homeless and of course with the catechists, youth workers and parish helpers. The 45 missionaries working in the prefecture also called for a fundraising campaign to support poor people.
Christmas will also be a special festival for the children of the Verbist Caring Center. A total of 120 children that Father Gilbert Sales took from the sewers in Ulaanbaatar live here. December 30th will be dedicated entirely to children in the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, which was only inaugurated in August of this year: they will perform songs and dances and receive gifts. “I explained to them,” said Father Gilbert, “that Christmas is the birthday of the Lord Jesus: you have to tell them again and again, because many children have never heard of Christmas”.
Father Sales is a Filipino Scheut missionary and has been working with the street children for 8 years. Countless street children try to survive on the streets of Ulaanbaatar through prostitution or theft and often fall ill with tuberculosis, urinary tract infections or sexually transmitted diseases. They live in the sewers because the outside temperature often drops to -30 degrees while it is warmer underground.
In the Verbist Caring Center, Father can count on the help of 30 employees. He told Fides: "We take care of these children: we provide them with meals and a warm bed, we give them clean clothes and, above all, we send them to school because education is their key to the future". The center is recognized by the government as a non-church NGO.
Of the total of around 4,000 street children living in Mongolia, 2000 alone live in the capital Ulaanbaatar. Father Gilbert explains: “In 80% of the cases, poverty is the reason why the children live on the streets. The families often do not have an apartment. Around 20% of the children left their families because they were abused by alcoholic or separated parents. "
(PA) (Fides Service, 17/12/2003 - 42 lines, 459 words)


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