05/28/2006, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Fund raising and outdoor masses for Java Catholics

by Mathias Hariyadi

Despite the tragic situation, parishioners in the area destroyed by the quake went to mass to respond to the invitation of the pope to "pray for victims, their families and survivors". Functions were held outdoors for fear that more buildings may collapse.

Semarang (AsiaNews) – All Indonesia's Catholic parishes, especially those in the archdiocese of Semarang, are joining forces to collect funds and to distribute basic aid to victims of the quake that struck the island of Java yesterday, 27 May.

Parishes and priests across the country urged believers to "follow the pope and to pray for victims, their families and survivors". However, the archdiocese of Jakarta, and the one of Semarang, have also launched several petitions to find funds for victims. The death toll of the quake is already 3,400.

The area hardest hit by the disaster was Bantul, where the parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, are found. Catholics are praying for those who have been left homeless and who have lost one or more relatives.

Talking to AsiaNews, Mrs Prawoto, a parishioner of the Sacred Heart in Ganjuran, said: "Today's mass was celebrated outdoors as the building was damaged by the tremor. The bearing wall behind the altar was severely damaged and some dividing walls collapsed. The parish priest was told not to celebrate any masses in the church as it may fall. Unfortunately, only a few people took part in the celebration as many were still searching for their relatives."

The parish is well known for the way in which it celebrates mass by uniting the Roman rite to Javanese language and tradition. The parish compound includes a convent of the sisters of St Charles Borromeo, an orphanage and the Bernadette hospital. "The other buildings, apart from the church, were spared by the quake," added the parishioner.

Outdoor masses were celebrated also in the shrine of Sendang

Sriningsih in Jali, the "Indonesian Lourdes", in St Anthony's Church in

Yogyakarta and in the parish of the Lord Jesus in Baciro.

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