Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A Catholic community of about 1,000 faithful today inaugurated their church dedicated to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus in Majenang Diocese, of Purwokerto, Central Java province. The Christian community has been present in this Muslim majority area since 1955, but only recently has obtained legal permission to build the church and a home for the priest.
The church was inaugurated today, the Feast of St. Therese, patroness of missions, to whom the building is dedicated. The building has yet to be finished.
The history of Majenang community shows the strength of Christianity in a predominantly Muslim area.
In 1955, five Catholic families and seven young Catholic teachers moved to this area in the western part of the province of Central Java. The teachers were fresh graduates from St. Joseph College Ambarawa - 250 km from Majenang. At the beginning there were only 15-20 people who attended mass, which without a place to celebrate it and without a priest, took place only once a month.
Over the years the community has swollen due to conversion and the baptism of several locals.
The Bishop of Purwokerto, Mgr. Julianus Sunarko, SJ, in a statement published for the occasion, said: "Since then [in 1955], many pastoral missions have been established, including Karangpucung, Caru, Wanareja, Merge, Cimanggu, Bolangir, Lengkong, and Panjauan Negarajati" . After 60 years – continued Mgr. Sunarko - the seed of Catholicism in Majenang has grown to 50 times that of 1955”.
The bishop concludes that the structures of the church and the pastor's home are very simple. Nevertheless, he is hoping for a greater flowering of faith in his diocese.