Vale Bishop Wenceslao Padilla C.I.C.M.
Yesterday we received the sad news of the sudden passing of the Most Reverend Wenceslao Padilla C.I.C.M., the Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, at age 68 of a heart attack.
Bishop Wens, a missionary of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was proof that a Church so steeped in centuries-old tradition still needs its pioneers.
Appointed Mongolia's first prelate by Pope St John Paul II in 2002, Bishop Wens led the world's youngest Catholic Church. He will be deeply missed by those whose lives he touched, both in Mongolia and in his home the Philippines.
National Director of Catholic Mission Father Brian Lucas said that the impact that Bishop Wenceslao Padilla had on the people he met during his visit on behalf of Catholic Mission five years ago is still spoken about.
‘He touched many people and the heroic mission to such a remote part of the world was truly inspiring,’ he said. ‘We pray that the fledgling church which he began will continue to flourish.’
Bishop Wens’ 2013 Australian visit coincided with that year’s World Mission Month celebrating 20 years of the Mongolian Church.
I Will Build My Church... | World Mission Month 2013 - Mongolia
The Catholic Mission appeal shone light on his work to develop a young and previously oppressed church, shepherding the Catholic faithful in a nation facing issues of acute poverty and homelessness, often compounded by Mongolia's severe weather.
In 2016, Bishop Wens ordained Mongolia’s first native-born priest, a significant achievement in such a short time.
Bishop Wens' work for young people with disabilities, a stigmatised minority in the country, was a source of inspiration to those in positions of leadership, not only in the Church but in broader society too. That may be his greatest legacy to those he served.
The global Church has this week lost a great leader and a great man, but we live in faith that, guided by the wisdom of God, the Holy Father will ensure Bishop Wens' legacy as Mongolia's first prelate is carried on through his successor.
Our prayers are with his family, friends, and his faithful followers.