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2018.03.22 11:27

3306_Cooperators in a new Church

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austraLasia #3306

  

Cooperators in a new Church

DARKHAN:  30 October 2013 -- Darkhan, Mongolia's industrial city in the north, is a new Church in every possible sense. In 2007, as the first Catholic community outside Ulaanbaatar, 23 people were baptized, thus adding a significant number to the entire Catholic community of Mongolia which, that year, was estaimted to be around 375 members. Now, six years later, something else is stirring in Darkhan, from amongst those 23.

By now, the 23 has grown to around 170. The parish is a Salesian parish (Fr Paul Leung is now the parish priest), and in addition to the usual Salesian activity of building a Church around young people as well as adults, increasing the Salesian Family has been a key part of implanting the charism: the Sisters, of course, and the Cooperators.

Formation to the ACS was already underway by 2009. By May 21 (recalling the day of the Darkhan Church of Mary Help of Christian's consecration) there were 10 Salesian Cooperators who made their first Promise. Six renewed their Promise in 2013 one of whom is a university student now in UB, the other five living and working in Darkhan. Fr Klement caught up with them during his recent visit to Mongolia, and what follows are snippets, really, of a conversation with them. Their names: John, Mary and Agnes.

John is an art teacher at the Don Bosco Center. Mary, who is the ASC coordinator, is the English teacher at the Center, while Agnes is a social worker there. They acknowledge that being Cooperators, in addition to their baptism, has changed their lives. They are all married with children, and they believe that being Cooperators has increased their faith, helped them to talk with their children, helped them to be more active on behalf of young people in Darkhan.

They have read what they can - but that depends on access to Saelsian literature in a language they can understand. As an English teacher, Mary can also heop with translation. The Salesian Bulletin - largely unkown there up till now - will be important. It would be very helpful if a copy of English editions of the SB could be sent to Darkhan, and Ulaanbaatar for that matter too. Can SB editors in the region help? It will also help if more English study can be encouraged amongst the Cooperators in Mongolia.

They would like to connect with other ACS in the region, perhaps even have a seminar or formation event located there. Certainly mary would like to be in touch with the EAO (in Cooperator terms that would be EAR) regional leadership.

The Darkhan Cooperators have an apostolate - besides their professional activity at the Center, John, Mary and Agnes are catechists in the parish; they are also interested in learning about the range of apostolates ACS members engage in worldwide.

Fr Paul Leung is the ACS Delegate. There are just two Salesians there (Fr Simon is the usual other member of the community, currently back briefly in Seoul; Fr Anton has replaced him while he is away).

The Cooperators, it seems, will soon be joined by another branch of the the wider Salesian Family - Past Pupils. With schools of some prominence now in Mongolia (DB Skill Technical Center in UB has been recently recognised officially as one of Mongolia's top 50 institutions), the local sSalesians, but also the worldwide PP movement, has expressed interest in setting up the Past Pupils on a more formal basis.