Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The recent ordination of 33 new deacons is a sign of the vitality of the Indonesian Church. Following the country's tradition, six months from now, they will become priests. Their vocation heralds many more, among older adults men. The ceremony of the imposition of the first degree of the Holy Orders took place in Bekasi and Yogyakarta. In the former case, the event also marked the 37 years of priesthood of Jakarta archbishop Mgr Ignatius Suharyo.
The Parish of Pulogebang (Bekasi Regency, West Java Province) hosted the ordination of nine deacons last week. Mgr Suharyo conducted the service in a local church, not in the capital's cathedral, in accordance with a decades-old tradition.
Conducting the ceremony in local parishes is meant to strengthen the ties between Church hierarchy and the faithful, local Catholic sources explained, by highlighting the need for new vocations and priests to serve the community. At the same time, the event has become a venue for the new deacons "to meet, exchange and celebrate".
In this case, the event was twice important because it coincided with 37th anniversary of the ordination of the archbishop of Jakarta's. "It was a true gift for the bishop," said L. Suryoto, a former seminarian from East Jakarta.
Twenty-four more deacons were ordained in Yogyakarta, central Java, by Mgr Johannes Pujasumarta, archbishop of Semarang. Hailing from local congregations, they included eight diocesans from Semarang and one from Purwokerto. All of them are expected to become priests in June and July.
Indonesia's 7 million Catholics are a small minority (3 per cent) in the world's most populous Muslim nation. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, Catholics represent 3.6 per cent of the population.
Nevertheless, there are many vocations for the priesthood, especially among older adults. Ten years ago, the Jesuits opened the novitiate to older adults, with many men in their thirties interested in dedicating their "entire" life to Christ.
Many other congregations followed their lead, opening their seminaries to older adults with special classes set up alongside existing ones.