Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Catholics in Ambon,
the Moluccas, better known as a province of the Thousand Islands, are celebrating
the ordination of five new priests and two deacons. The local bishop, Mgr. Petrus
Canisius Mandagi, a Missionary of the Sacred Heart (MSC), presided over the
ceremony, which took place last February 11 in the cathedral, in front of the Christian
community and a crowd of worshipers. For
the Indonesian religious minority vocations are a sign of the vitality of the
local church and a moment of joy for a community that - in the past - has been the
victim of sectarian violence and Muslim-Christian clashes.
Two of the five new priests belong to the congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart: they are Fr. Aleksander Sarkol and Fr. Salfinus Buarlele. The other three are diocesan priests: Fr. Yakobus Sorlury Pr, Fr. Balduinus Inuhan Pr and Fr. Moses Fatlolon Pr. The two deacons are Yakobus Bedy Pr and Openg Kornelis Pr, both from the island of Flores, in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), a large Catholic majority area.
Frits Pangemanan, a Catholic of Ambon, confirmed to AsiaNews that the ordination was attended by "thousands of Catholics," from the diocese, along with several government officials who attended the mass.
Fr. Salfinus Buarlele leaves for Australia shortly, as a missionary in the parish of Kippax, Canberra. The others, however, will remain in the Diocese of Ambon, whose area includes the provinces of Central and North Maluku, for a total of 43 parishes. Catholics there number at least 130 thousand, in terms of vocations, there are 55 diocesan priests and 35 priests belonging to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC). To date, the minor seminary is home to 300 men, with 111 students in the major seminary.
In the past the Moluccas witnessed harsh sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims, leaving a high number of dead and wounded. The arrival in 1999 in the area of thousands of Muslim settlers, coming from other parts of Indonesia, triggered the conflict, which continued until 2002 causing at least 9 thousand victims in repeated accidents. The signing of a peace treaty between the two sides in February 2002 - the Malino Peace Treaty, signed in South Sulawesi - put an end to the conflict, but tensions remain.