Celebrations for the 70 years of mission of the Augustinian nuns in Ketapang (photos)
by Mathias Hariyadi

The festivities began three days ago with a procession. Yesterday, a solemn mass was held at the Cathedral of Saint Gemma Galgani. OSA missionaries arrived in West Kalimantan from Heemstede (Netherlands) on 6 December 1949. Over the years, they opened a hospital, six rural clinics and as many schools.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The community of the Augustinian Sisters of the Divine Mercy (OSA) celebrated 70 years since the opening of their first mission in Ketapang, West Kalimantan province.

The celebrations, which began three days ago, started with a procession in which hundreds of ethnic Dayaks, many of them young, took part.

Yesterday morning, a solemn Mass was held at the Cathedral of St Gemma Galgani, followed in the evening by a reception in the parish garden.

Augustinian nuns have been present in Indonesia since 1949, when Dutch missionaries settled in the vast Diocese of Ketapang.

In 1972, the nuns established an autonomous province and celebrated their 25th anniversary two years ago.

Currently, their health services include a hospital in Ketapang, the Fatima Hospital, and six rural clinics in as many villages.

The Sisters work in the dioceses of Ketapang, Sanggau, Sintang and Pontianak (West Kaalimantan).

Mgr Pius Riana Prapdi, bishop of Ketapang, describes them as "pioneers of the apostolate of the Church in education and health care".

For the prelate, "Their service is exceptional. These nuns have managed to train many young people in rural communities, enabling them to become educated and develop many skills."

For this reason, students from St Augustine Junior High School, St Peter's Senior High School and the Vocational School, three OSA-run facilities, took part in the procession three days ago.

They met at the OSA Mother House, in central Ketapang, and recited the Rosary along the way.

Among them were Sister Lucia Wahyu, provincial superior of the community, and 79-year-old Sister Dionne Appelman, one of the first nuns from the Netherlands still living, who travelled for the occasion from Europe.

Police and the members of the Dayak[i] Youth Organisation (PDD) provided the security to the prayer march.

OSA missionaries arrived in West Kalimantan from Heemstede (Netherlands) on 6 December 1949, after the bishop of Pontianak asked them to come to Ketapang to support the work of the Passionist Fathers.

Chosen from 200 nuns, five sisters accepted the mission and immediately focused on health care. After opening their first clinic for cholera patients and skin diseases, they set up the Fatima Hospital in Ketapang. Over the years, they opened six more rural clinics and as many schools.

[i] The Dayak are a predominantly Christian ethnic group.