Four of them are ethnic Dayak, a mostly Christian ethnic group on Borneo. The Order of Capuchins welcomed eight confreres. The Sacred Heart of Jesus has five new priests. Catholics are a small minority in Riau province, and for them even a diaconal ordination becomes a historic moment.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – In the past two weeks, Catholic communities in remote areas of Sumatera (Sumatra) and Kalimantan (Indonesian part of the island of Borneo) celebrated the ordinations of 13 priests and three deacons.
On Tuesday, three Capuchin priests were consecrated at St Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Balai Karangan, diocese of Sanggau, West Kalimantan (pictured).
In the absence of the local bishop, Mgr Samuel Oton Sidin of the diocese of Sintang led the service together with Mgr Hieronymus Herculanus Bumbun, bishop emeritus of Pontianak. The three new priests are ethnic Dayak, a predominantly Christian indigenous people native to Borneo.
During the homily, Mgr Sidin urged the new clergyman to be faithful to God through a life of endless prayer. He also invited the thousands of faithful present at the ceremony to support the new priests and "remind” them of their duty should the stray from their priestly path.
A few days earlier, the Capuchin Order had welcomed five more priests in Pematang Siantar (North Sumatera).
Also on Tuesday in West Kalimantan, the bishop of Ketapang, Mgr Pius Riana Prapdi, presided over the diaconal ordination of Bonifacius Mite in St Martin Parish Church in Balai Berkuak (pictured).
It takes about four hours by car and boat across major rivers to get to the isolated village from Ketapang. Kimpin, who volunteers in the diocese, told AsiaNews that the new deacon is from the "Catholic" island of Flores, in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. "The second of eight children, he moved here to attend high school," he said.
On 7 February, five priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were ordained in Palembang, the capital of the province of South Sumatera (Sumatera Island). Fr Hendrik Ardianto, Fr Andreas Sudi Novianto, Fr Juspani Lase, Fr Emilianus Estrodimas, and Fr Antonius Tugiyatno come from different parts of the country.
A local diocesan priest, Fr Titus Jatra Kelana, said that hundreds of priests and about a thousand faithful took part in the ceremony, officiated by Archbishop Aloysius Sudarso in St Francis de Sales Parish Church(pictured).
With the support of some missionary orders, the archdiocese of Palembang carries out its pastoral work in a territory with many challenges. Fr Frans de Sales said that during the recent Christmas holidays he had to cross huge palm plantations down muddy roads, just to meet local Catholics.
"Despite the hard struggle to reach such a remote destination, I was really happy to impart the Holy Eucharist to these faithful so far away", said the clergyman, who is also head of the diocese’s Social Communications Commission.
In Riau province (Sumatera), Catholics are a small minority and for them even a diaconal ordination is a historic event. In Dumai, the community in the parish of St Francis Xavier celebrated the ordination of Paul Sinabaripa during a Mass led by Mgr Martinus Situmorang, bishop of Padang.
Riau comes under the diocese of Padang as does West Sumatera, which has the third highest proportion of Muslims (97.4 per cent) among Indonesian provinces.
Riau includes the Mentawai Islands, an archipelago that is ten hours by ferry from Sumatera. Most of its residents are Christians, and their pastoral care is in the hands of Xaverian priests.
On 4 February, Mgr Agustinus Agus, archbishop of Pontianak, ordained a Dayak named Matius, in Ambawang, Bengkayang district (West Kalimantan).
He comes from a Protestant family of humble origins and before entering the Nyarumkop minor seminary in Singkawang he worked as a helper at a local rectory.
Still a teenager and against the advice of parents who wanted him to be a farmer, Matius moved to Pontianak in 2005 to attend middle school, staying with a Catholic family. The following year, the young man asked to be baptised.
(Sr Maria Seba SFIC contributed to this article)