Fidei donum of the Diocese of Daejeon, served the very small Mongolian Catholic flock for twenty years. He passed away suddenly today at the age of 55. Vicar General of Card. Marengo in the apostolic prefecture, he lived for a few years in the steppe sharing the daily life of nomadic shepherds. A few days ago he had spoken to about the challenges of his mission with the youth of the capital.
Ulan Bator () – The small Mongolian Church, which awaits the announced visit of Pope Francis in September, is mourning the sudden death of Fr. Kim Stephano Seong Hyeon, Korean fidei donum priest and Vicar General of the Apostolic Prefecture of Ulan Bator. Fr. Kim, 55, passed away this morning due to a heart attack while he was in his parish at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.
Coming from the Korean diocese of Daejeon, the priest came to Mongolia in 2002, where he worked hard to create the parish of Santa Maria Assunta in Khan Uul, in the capital. He then moved to the Erdenesant area, in the steppe, 200 km from Ulan Bator, and spent several years sharing the daily life of nomadic herders, who are still very numerous in the country. He lived in a ger, the typical Mongolian tent, and traveled on horseback.
In 2020 Monsignor Giorgio Marengo, Consolata missionary and new bishop of the capital (later created a cardinal in August last year by Pope Francis) appointed him vicar. Since then, Father Kim divided his time between the pastoral care of the faithful of the cathedral parish -350 baptized Catholics-, spiritual assistance to the Korean community and the tasks of the Apostolic Prefecture.
In an interview with a few days ago in his parish, the priest recalled the first years of mission in Ulan Bator, when “we opened the doors of our church-ger without knowing who we would welcome” and the challenges of the present, especially a youthful world in transformation, “less tied to traditions and strongly influenced by the diffusion of new media”.
At the suffrage Mass that was celebrated in the afternoon in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, presided over by Cardinal Marengo, there were many Mongolian faithful who, moved and incredulous, together with the missionaries and their pastor, wanted to pay their full respects. of gratitude to Father Kim Stephano for the years he passionately gave to the small flock of the Asian country. After the funeral, which will take place in the coming days, the missionary will be buried in Ulan Bator, near the first bishop of Mongolia, the Filipino Wencenslao Padilla (of the Scheut missionaries).
The Mongolian Catholic Church, born in 1992 with the opening that came after 70 years of communist rule, today has about 1,300 faithful. There are 77 missionaries in the country, including priests, religious and lay people. In Mongolia, the majority religion is Buddhism although, after long decades of State atheism, more than 30% of the population declares itself non-religious. It is precisely to this periphery of the Church that Pope Francis plans to make a pastoral visit next September, as he has already announced on several occasions.