11/04/2014, 00.00
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Indonesian Priest: Enthusiasm of mission among Papua’s remote tribal areas

by Mathias Hariyadi
For the past five months Fr. Titus Budiyanto, a native of Sumatra, has worked in the parish of St. Peter in Kampung Bupul in the Diocese of Merauke. The Marian month of October, "a source of spiritual reconciliation among the faithful". On the evening of 31, the eve of All Saints, he baptized 20 children.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Proclaiming Christ among the tribes and indigenous of a remote and secluded area in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago, near the border with Papua New Guinea. This is the mission of Fr.Titus Budiyanto whohas spent the past five months in the Diocese of Merauke, Papua.  His an assignmentis the result of an agreement between the local bishop, Msgr. Nicholaus Adiseputra and Msgr. Hilarius Moa Nurak, bishop of Pangkalpinang, in the province of Bangka Island, Sumatra, Fr. Titus home diocese.

Speaking to AsiaNews the priest said that the project is part of an "ongoing collaboration between the dioceses of Pangkalpinang and Merauke", which led to "dozens of priests being sent to remote areas [of the province] of Papua to help local priests in pastoral mission among the natives".

Fr. Titus Budiyanto has been entrusted the parish of St. Peter in Kampung Bupul, about 200 km from the center of Merauke, a few dozen kilometers away from the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The parish is under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Merauke, in the most eastern and southern area of Papua.

Archbishop Adiseputra is happy for the presence of priests in this remote area, which he described as being "in the middle of nowhere" and "far from the center of the archdiocese". However, Fr. Titus is content to have a pastoral mission in an areas far removed from the reality of his native  territory. In Sumatra, in fact, Catholics are mostly descendants of Chinese ethnicity, while in Merauke - and even more so in the parish of St. Peter - they are mostly native Papuans, and quite different from the rest of the ethnic groups and Indonesians.

In recent weeks, the parish was visited by the head of the Indonesian army, Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, accompanied by the head of the local division; a courtesy visit - the general gifted and organ and some books to the parish - but with a clear strategic purpose, as the area is just a few minutes from the border and it is essential to control the movements and activities of separatist groups.

Fr. Titus says so far he has been struck by the marking of the Marian month of October, during which he breathed an atmosphere of "spiritual consolation" and reconciliation among parishioners and families who had been fighting each other or separated over disagreements and conflicts. "It is a source of happiness and blessing - he explains - see some of my parishioners who have finally made peace with their peers".

Along with Marian prayer vigils and processions of the "itinerant" statue of the Virgin, - from village to village, while the faithful recited the Rosary - Fr. Titus also recalls the night of October 31, the eve of All Saints, when dozens of Catholics attended the closing Mass, during which "20 children were baptized".

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, Christians represent 5.7 per cent of the population with Catholics just over 3.6 per cent. Catholics are an active component in society. Over the years, they have contributed to the nation's development and played a major role in emergency operations, as was the case during the devastating floods of January 2013.. 


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