Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Priestly training is needed to revive the "true spirit" of mission, and feed the passion and enthusiasm of the early days of the priesthood, thus helping the men of the Church to reduce the mistakes each commits in his journey.
With this in mind, Indonesian bishops have sponsored a five-week training course in Yogyakarta, in the province of Central Java.
This is a radical change from the past, when ordination was the "highest peak" of training, after the novitiate, theological and philosophical studies and the year of pastoral commitment.
However, errors and cases of misconduct convinced the bishops and the Indonesian Church to provide training opportunities to priests, especially younger ones and those prone to misconduct.
The training course involves at least 20 priests from various dioceses who are housed at the Jesuit centre, Pusat Pastoral Yogyakarta (PPY).
It kicked off last night in the presence of Semarang Church leaders, including Archbishop Johannes Pujasumarta, Jesuit provincial superior Fr Riyo Mursanto and his designated successor Fr Sunu Hardiyanto.
Interviewed by AsiaNews after the opening Mass, Fr Ignatius Madyautama - one of the programme's hosts - noted that the project is vital for young priests to boost their vocation and serve better the Church.
This is the fourth edition of the intensive five-week seminar since 2010; prominent theologians and high profile teachers are among the invited speakers.
For PPY president Fr JB Mardikartono, a former dean of St Ignatius College in Yogyakarta, the training course "for Indonesian priests" is "essential" so they can "revive" their missionary efforts.
Visiting some Islamic centres and travelling to parishes to observe pastoral work "on the grounds" is one of the course' various initiatives. The aim is to help priests broaden their horizon and facilitate meetings and interreligious dialogue.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation. Catholics number only seven million or 3 per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, they are around 3.6 per cent.
Although the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, Christians have suffered from acts of violence and abuse, especially where extremist versions of Islam, like in Aceh, are entrenched.
Despite everything, Catholics have contributed to the nation's development and play a major role in emergency operations, as was the case during the devastating floods of January 2013.