This year marks the 800th anniversary of the meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and Egypt’s Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. The festivities opened with a solemn thanksgiving Mass, during which participants also celebrated some priestly anniversaries.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Friars Minor (OFM) marked 90 years of missionary presence in Indonesia this month. A solemn Mass was celebrated on 17 November at the Sacred Heart Church in Kramat (Central Jakarta) to celebrate the milestone and begin the festivities.
In a broader context, the arrival of the first Friars Minor in the country also falls on the 800th anniversary of the meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi – the Order’s founder – and Egyptian Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in Damietta.
The Order’s provincial chapter was also held this year. In addition to the appointment of new leaders, it saw the adoption of a series of decisions regarding evangelisation and missions in Indonesia and other countries (inter gentes and ad gentes).
OMF’s history in Indonesia (then Dutch East Indies) began in 1929 with the arrival of five Dutch Franciscan friars in Jakarta (at the time known by its Dutch name of Batavia): Frs Victorius Beekman, Floribertus Schneiders, Paschalis Heitkonig, Azarius de Kok and Michael Lunter. Bishop Anton Pieter Franz van Velsen, a Jesuit, was the apostolic administrator, and he gave the missionaries permission to build two houses, one on Kramat Raya Boulevard and the other on Matraman Boulevard.
Ninety years later, the Franciscan community met gain in the heart of Jakarta to remember them. Card Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI), led the Eucharistic celebration. Indonesia’s five Franciscan bishops (Bogor, Jayapura, Agats, Pangkalpinang, Labuan Bajo) attended the service.
During the Mass, some participants also celebrated priestly anniversaries: Fr Kornelis Keyrans’s 50th, Fr. Kees van Dijk’s 40th, and Frs Ignatius Widiaryoso and Nikolaus Jose’s 25th. Brother Aloysius Troyon also celebrated 25 years of consecrated life.
In his homily, Card Suharyo urged Franciscan Friars to continue their apostolates. “Like Saint Francis of Assisi, your works have inspired Indonesian Catholics to renew the spirit of brotherhood with respect and love for the country," he said.
Fr Martin Kowe, secretary of the Indonesian province of the OFM and head of the event’s organising committee, also spoke to AsiaNews.
“This year,” he said, “we want first to revive the image of our first presence in the country. Secondly, like all Franciscan communities in the world, we want to revive the spirit of the historic meeting between Saint Francis Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt. Even today, 800 years later, it underscores the need to foster brotherly relations among different religious groups.”
(Photo credit: OFM Indonesia).