01/02/2016, 00.00
INDONESIA

A priest finally reaches faraway Pakak

by Mathias Hariyadi
Located some 400 km from the provincial capital, the one-thousand strong community of St Michael’s in Pakak gets a priest only for a day of the year because of its remoteness. Older couples renewed their marriage vows and young people went to confession and asked for advice.

Pontianak (AsiaNews) – The St Michael’s Catholic Parish in Pakak received an extraordinary gift this Christmas: five full days with a priest, Fr Frensius Supriyadi.

The gift was unexpected as it was welcome because the community is located in a very dangerous and hard-to-reach area. Yet, the visit brought joy and unforgettable moments to the community.

The area is some 400 kilometres from Ponianak, West Kalimantan’s capital, a medium-size industrial city on the west coast of Borneo.

St Michael’s belongs to the Diocese of Sintang, and has a congregation of 1,075 people, who are the local majority. “We are like the Philippines," locals like to say.

Unlike Java, where each community can be reached by car or motorbike, travel in this part of Indonesia is difficult. People move around in boats, and off-road motorcycles. What is more, floods and torrential rains often make the area inaccessible.

Viktorinus Bosio, a young local Catholic activist, told AsiaNews that "Fr Frensius’ presence was a special gift”.

“Religious services are usually led by lay people,” he explained. “Sometimes, students from the St John Vianney Seminary in Menyurai perform the services. When a priest does come, he usually stays with us no more than a day. This time, he was with us for five whole days.”

Since flooding blocked seminary rector Fr Supriyadi, Bosio and other young Catholics took advantage of the situation and organised events the local community wanted blessed.

Many couples with more than 40 years of marriage renewed their wedding vows. The priest convinced them to make public statement about their relationship so as to encourage young people to look with hope towards marriage.

Many young people went for confession and asked for spiritual assistance.

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