Mongolia, church and needs of the people
Mongolia was a part of China; in 1911 they declared independent, however at that time it was failed. In 1921 under the support of USSR, they succeeded in declaring as an independent country. At that time the government was under the communist party and all religious activities were forbidden!
In 1990, this communistic country was transited peacefully into democratic country, and they also started the normal diplomatic relationship with Vatican. Under their invitation, the first group of missionaries (CICM priests) arrived in Mongolia in 1992 and started the mission.
Once the country was opened in 1990, it developed quite a lot and very fast; however only a small group of people became rich, and the majority is still very poor, still living in the “gher” district (the area of Mongolian tent), in which no running water supply, no central heating supply, no toilet!
Since the country development was concentrated on the capital and some main cities, most of the population rushed into cities even though they have no knowledge or profession to find a job there. It raised a lot of problems to the society; especially the problems of youth.
On the other hand, Mongolians were influenced by Russian that they drink a lot of Vodka; many people get drunk quite frequently, especially men! Some of them even took the money for food to buy alcoholic! After they got drunk, the man beats the wife and children and thus a lot of family violence came out.
However, the normal education and professional training were encouraged by the government, for those who want to study, they can always find chance. Of course they also should have some money in order to study. Even though the government provides free education up to high school, they have to buy their own books and stationery and also to pay a lot of extra fee!
The bishop in Mongolia felt that it was a urgent to provide good education to the youth here, so he invited the Salesians to come to run a technical training center in Ulaanbaatar (the capital of Mongolia); thus the first group of Salesians arrived in Mongolia in 2001 and settled in Ulaanbaatar.
The first Salesian, Father Carlo Villegas from Philippines arrived in Mongolia in February 7. 2001 to work with the Plan called for opening a skills training Center in the capital and a second work in Darkhan. After several months later, in October 2001 the assembled group of Missionaries arrived. It included father Joseph Toth from Slovakia, Father Simon Lee form Korea, Deacon Andrew Tin Nguyen Trung, Cleric Paul Trung Vu Van and brother Andrew Phuong Le (Preparing in PNG, for the Techinicians degree).
Once the Salesians arrived, we started to prepare the training center; on the other hand, we saw that there were so many street children in the capital, we started to collect them and thus we started a caring center for these kinds of marginalized children and youth.
At that time, all missionaries were staying in Ulaanbaatar, we felt that we have to spread out to other cities for evangelizing the people; and this idea was supported by the bishop. So in 2005 the bishop entrusted Darkhan and Selenge aimag to the Salesians for evangelization. In the same year, the first group of Salesians (2 priests) came to Darkhan and settled here and started our apostolate.
 Selenge aimag is a province in the north of Mongolia, adjacent to Siberia of Russia. Darkhan is an autonomy city inside Selenge aimag and was the second biggest city in Mongolia, in which the population is around 100,000).
Annals of the Salesian Mission in Mongolia
In 1997 the superior of the CICM invited the salesians to launch the mission work in Mongolia. The following year provincial of Korea, Fr. Klement Vaclav visited Mongolia to study the situation. The request was accepted and Rector Major Rev. Fr. Juan Edmundo Vecchi entrusted the mission to the newly constituted salesian province of Vietnam. The Apostolic Nuncio for Mongolia, Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini with his letter dated 07 Jannuary 1998, and the apostolic prefect very Rev. Msgr. Wenceslao S. Padilla, CICM, with his letter dated 14, April 1998, officially invited the salesians to start the mission work according to the specific Charism of Don Bosco.
The Rector Major Rev. Fr. Juan Edmundo Vecchi sent (mission Ad Gentes-2000) six missionaries Fr. Carlo Villegas from Philippines, Fr. Joseph Toth from Slovakia, Fr. Simon Lee from Korea, Deacon Andrew Tin Nguyen Trung, Cleric Paul Trung Vu Van and Bro. Andrew Phuong Le from Vietnam in the jubilee year 2000.
In February 2001, Fr. Carlo Villegas arrived in Mongolia with Luciano Odorico the councilor for the missions, and Fr. John Ty Nguyen van, Provincial of Vietnam. Fr. Carlo Villegas initiated a skill training Center in Ulaanbaatar the capital of Mongolia in a small building offered by Apostolic prefect very Rev. Msgr. Wenceslao S. Padilla, CICM. At the same time he was told to make plan for further expansion and development of the apostolate in another part of Mongolia called Darkhan, the second largest industrial city, some 220km north of the Capital, close to the Russian border. Other Salesians, Fr. Joseph Toth, Fr. Simon Lee, Dn. Andrew Tin Nguyen Trung, Cl. Paul Trung Vu Van joined him in October 2001.
The Don Bosco Skills Training Center was officially inaguarated in October 20, 2001. The simple inauguration ceremony was honored by the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio Giovanni, the ministers of the Mongolian government and the US Ambassador to Mongolia acting for USAID.
In July 2002, Catholic Mission commemorated the 10th anniversary of its presence in Mongolia. The Holy Father sent Cardinal Vincenzio Seppe, President of the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith as a representative. He raised the Mongolian Mission to the rank of vicariate apostolate with Msgr. Wenceslaus Padilla as a Vicar. On that occasion also Dn. Andrew Tin SDB was ordained a priest. This was the first sacerdotal ordination ever held Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar Hotel). Fr. Clement Vaclav too made his visit in winter Oct 25, 2002.
In the year 2003, the massive cathedral was constructed and inaugurated. In the same year Vicar Msgr. Padilla was consecrated as a first Bishop of Mongolia. Pope John Paul II himself had wished to visit Mongolia on that occasion, but was prevented. This year also Savio Caring Center was established in Amgalang located in the outskirt of Ulaanbaatar under the leadership of Fr. Simon Lee.
In April 2004, Bishop Padilla officially signed the contract with the provincial of Vietnam Fr. John the Baptist Them Nguyen Van to launch the mission work in Mongolia. The cherished dream of a full time youth center serving the poor young workers in Darkhan would also be realized. In October 2004 Fr. James Cheruvathur from India and Fr. Thiago Copola from Brazil arrived in Mongolia.
In April 2005, a youth center (Oratory) in view of making a parish in Darkhan was established under the leadership of Fr. James Cheruvathur. Bro. Andrew Phuong who had been sent to PNG for technical studies and Fr. Victor Dzuidza from Poland stepped in Mongolia. Bro. Andrew Phuong was later appointed as a principle of the technical school.
In the year 2006, the parish was officially named Maria Auxilium and Fr. James Cheruvathur became the first parish priest and the youth center became an Educational center.
Fr. John Nguyen van Ty the former provincial of Vietnam and Fr. Laurenso Nguyen Kim Dien arrived in Mongolia to be the part of Mongolian mission.
In the year 2007, Dn. Paul Vu van Trung came back from the Philippines after finishing his theological studies. He was ordained as a priest in September 14, 2007 by Bishop Wens Padilla at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Ulaanbaatar. In September 15, Fr. John Nguyen van Ty left Mongolia due to heart attack and other sickness. In the same year Fr. Paul Leung from Honkong came to Ulaanbaatar and was appointed as a director of Savio Caring Center.
In June 2008, Br. Christof (Ad Gentes 2007) from Poland, in September 1, 2008, Cl. Anthony Kishore Minj and some time later Cl. Arnold Patyona landed in Mongolia. In the beginning of 2008 Fr. James Cheruvathur decided to go back to his mother province.
In May 2009, Cl. Anthony Kishore Minj went to the Philippines to do his theology and Fr. Laurenso Nguyen Kim Dien went back to his Mother province.
In 2010 Br. Andrew went to obtain Master’s degree in Education and Cl. Arnold Patyona went to study theology in the Philippines. In February 2010, Br. JB Vu Quang Trung sdb volunteered to work in Mongolian Mission and was assigned to Darkhan community. Later he was transferred to Don Bosco Care Center (Earlier known as Savio Care Center) Ulaanbaatar. In 2010 Cl. Anton Werun from Indonesia too joined the salesian mission in Mongolia.
In March 2013, Fr. Victor Dzuidza was transferred to his province of origin. In March 18, 2013, Fr. Paul Vu van Trung was asked to return to his own province. March 2013 Fr. Carlo Villegas was sent to UPS (Rome) to obtain Licentiate in Salesianity. In July 15, 2013 Br. Andrew returned to Mongolia and was reappointed as the Principal of the Technical School. In September 01, 2013 Fr. Anthony Kishore Minj returned to the mission after completing his theological studies and after completing Mongolian language course he was made in charge of Don Bosco care center.
In 2014, Darkhan community extended its apostolate by taking up Hutul located in Selenge Aimag (province) as a study center for the children. Presently it is managed by the Salesian Cooperators. Fr. Arnoldus Patyona asked to stay back in his mother province.
In the year 2015, Fr. Mario Gasper from Easter Timor and Fr. Jaroslav from Czech Republic came to Mongolia and were assigned in Darkhan for language course.
In the beginning of 2016 Fr. Joseph Nguyen Manh Dat SDB who had been working in Turkey arrived in Mongolia. And later in June Fr. Carlo Maria Savio De Ocampo Villegas, SDB the pioneer of the Mongolian mission returned back. Fr. Joseph Nguyen Van Quang, SDB the provincial of Vietnam made canonical visitation from August 24- 28, 2016.