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By Fr. Alfred Maravilla SDB

On September 1-4, 2003 Pope Francis will be in Mongolia for his apostolic visit. The media will be focusing on his public events. Behind the scenes, there are many who have been working since the Pope announced his visit to “The land of the eternal blue sky”. Many Salesian Cooperators, SDBs and FMAs are involved with other religious in the Apostolic Prefecture in these preparations. However, among them are a Salesian brother and a Salesian Sister.

Sr. Hanako Kojima FMA is a Japanese missionary who has been in Mongolia for many years. People are easily impressed by her jovial character and capacity to communicate well in the Mongolian language. She speaks also English and Italian. She will head the selected staff that will prepare the Pope’s meals during his stay in the Apostolic Prefecture. “When I was told that I will have this task I was so happy but also so afraid,” explained Sr. Hanako. Protocol does not allow Sr. Hanako to reveal the pontifical menu. “I feel so privileged to be chosen with other sisters for this humble service to our Holy Father ,” said Sr. Hanako with joy twinkling in her eyes.

Br. Andrew Le Phuong Tran, SDB is a Vietnamese who has been a missionary in Mongolia for many years too. He spent 4 years in Papua New Guinea as a student in Don Bosco Technological Institute. Previously he was in charge of the technical training center in Ulaanbataar. At present he is the Economer of the Delegation, in-charge of the PDO and works as well as Economer of the Apostolic Prefecture. Cardinal Giorgio Marengo appointed him as the overall coordinator of the Pope’s visit. He will be part of the official Delegation to receive the Pope at the tarmac and bid him farewell on Sept 4. “My role involves meeting and briefing Mongolian government officials, liaising with Vatican staff in-charge of the Pope’s visit as well as overseeing the logistics,” explained Br. Andrew.

Asked what is his greatest challenge, Br. Andrew explained that, besides the heavy workload and tight deadlines, he had to go and meet government officials, many were initially unaware of the full implications of the Pope’s visit. In fact, this is something totally new for many in Mongolia. “But I have even greater joy when I see the transformation in the understanding of many government officials and ordinary Mongolians regarding the Pope’s visit. When we started the preparations, we had to deal with undersecretaries of departments who were not quite aware of the implications for the Papal visit. But as the arrival of the Holy father draws near, many government ministers got in touch with me to double check that the preparations on the part of the government are in place,” explained Br. Andrew.

Welcome to Mongolia, Pope Francis!







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