Jakarta (AsiaNews) - In order to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood, solidarity and cooperation between priests and, in particular, among seminarians, the Diocese of Purwokerto - in Banyumas regency, Central Java - held a two-day forum. Entitled "Priests need priests," the recent initiative involved 62 students from the major seminaries located across five dioceses in Java and other regions of the Indonesian archipelago. The seminarians were hosted in the diocesan spiritual center of Hening Griya and discussed the importance of cooperation and mutual support among priests in the exercise of their mission.
Future priests (pictured) from Semarang, Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung, Surabaya and Malang took part. They were joined by seminarians from other dioceses spread across the archipelago, including Denpasar (Bali), Samarinda (East Borneo) and Tanjungselor (North Borneo). Due to the lack of high-level institutes of theology or philosophy, it is common for young people from Borneo or other remote areas to move to Java to complete their studies and further their formation.
The two day meeting began with a solemn Eucharistic celebration presided over by Msgr. Julianus Sunarko, Bishop of Purwokerto, and the heads of the course; the Vicar General, Fr. Puryatno outlined the main features of the diocese. After that, the seminarians alternated moments of fun and entertainment to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood, with roundtable discussions and in-depth seminars and workshops.
Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Agustinus Handi Setyanto, a diocesan priest and one of the organizers of the event, said that there was also talk of a possible seminar on "spirituality", for the "sharing of personal experiences of faith" among the students. Also Fr. Deddy Setiawan and Fr. Kristi Adi, priests in Purwokerto, underscored the value of "brotherhood" among the priests, highlighting stories from the Bible and staging puppet shows. Finally, the future priests visited a Catholic school in the diocese, to deepen their knowledge and skills in the field of education.
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.