The apostolic nuncio led the first Mass in the new church. The new cathedral was built on the site of the old one. The latter, whose demolition began in July 2017, could only accommodate 800 people. The new, three-level building can accommodate 1,208 people seated and another 706 on the balcony.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Catholics in Samarinda, capital of the province of East Kalimantan (in Indonesian Borneo), have a new cathedral.
Mgr Piero Pioppo, apostolic nuncio in the country, celebrated the first Mass yesterday in the newly-built church, which is dedicated to St Mary of Perpetual Help.
Mgr Yustinus Harjosusanto, archbishop of Samarinda, and several Indonesian prelates attended the solemn service.
East Kalimantan Governor, Isran Noor, visited the church the day before together with Ignasius Jonan, Indonesia’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources.
A delegation of local officials accompanied the senior government officials, one of whom was Eusabius Binsasi, director of the Catholic Council, which is part of the Ministry for Religious Affairs.
Welcomed by Dayak tribal dancers, the group took part in the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Mgr Harjosusanto.
The new cathedral cost 61 billion Indonesian rupiahs (US$ 4.3 million). The provincial administration provided 53.8 billion rupiahs (US$ 3.6 million), whilst the Catholic community raised the rest.
Governor Noor expressed "satisfaction with the conclusion of the work and the presence of the nuncio".
St Mary of Perpetual Help stands on the site of the old cathedral, built as the parish church of Samarinda.
The local Catholic community needed a larger building, said Fr Moses Komela Avanthat, the parish priest.
The Diocese of Samarinda was erected on 3 January 1961, decades after the construction of the original building. The latter, which could only accommodate 800 people, was torn down starting in July 2017.
"At every Mass, dozens of people were forced to stay outside the church," the priest explained. "We had to demolish the building due to too many technical problems.”
“At 45 metres tall, the new cathedral is on three levels and can accommodate 1,208 people seated and another 706 on the balcony," he added.