By Leslie Ann Aquino
Mongolia’s first bishop, Filipino bishop Wenceslao Padilla, has died Tuesday, September 25.
Padilla, 68, died of heart attack in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital.
The prelate’s death was announced by the CBCP in a News post.
In a statement, the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM), where Padilla belongs, expressed condolences and prayers to the Church in Mongolia, and to his family and friends.
Caritas Asia was also saddened by Padilla’s death, whom they called as “a strong supporter of Caritas work.”
“We will always remember him as an inspiration for his passion of serving others and commitment to his work,” it said.
Ordained priest in 1976, Padilla arrived with two confreres to open the Mongolian mission in 1992, shortly after the Vatican established diplomatic relations with the East Asian nation.
Padilla is the only bishop in Mongolia, which was opened about 25 years ago following the fall of communism.
They started from “scratch”, the bishop once told international Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need.
“The first Holy Masses were read in a hotel. After that we rented apartments and forged initial links with believers through international organizations and embassies,” he said.
Today, the local church has 20 foreign missionaries and 50 nuns from 12 religious congregations working for about 1, 300 Catholics and the country’s poor.
Padilla was appointed bishop of Mongolia by then Pope John Paul II in August 2003.
In 2016, Padilla ordained Mongolia’s first native-born priest, a young man he baptized as a child many years ago.