11/01/2017, 09.19
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East Java, over 400 children gather at 'faith coaching' (Photo)

by Mathias Hariyadi

"Faith Coaching" is a very important aspect in Indonesia, where Catholics are a minority. Great participation and numerous committees involved. The event allowed children to make new friends and celebrate their faith through the Eucharist. The local Catholic school turned into a temporary dormitory. During the night a parade of lanterns organized for the city center of Bondowoso.

Bondowoso (AsiaNews) - The Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Bondowoso, in the diocese of Malang (East Java), hosted over 430 children from 12 parishes, attending the biannual gathering called Young Children's Faith Coaching Gathering (28-29 October) .

The "faith coaching" initiatives for children are a fundamental aspect of Catholic faith formation in Indonesia, where Catholics are about 3% of the population. However, Compared with other Christian denominations, faith coaching programs in every catholic parish across the country is much less often practiced.  Parish priests are commonly  already occupied with other matters but mostly liturgical events, so it is up to young volunteers or simple parishioners to engage children in activities that are often limited to singing and outdoor games.

The event organized by the parish of Saint John the Evangelist was important, both for the turnout of children and educators, and for the number of committees involved. Parish priest, Fr. Laurentius Heru Susanto says the initiative took place in some public spaces in the city center. "During the night, the children attending the rally held a procession of lanterns along the main street of Bondowoso center, which ended in the city square. The event attracted the attention of local passers-by, said the priest.

Providing accommodation for all of the children was difficult. So the organizers transformed the local Catholic school into a temporary dormitory, transforming the structure to meet the needs of the young guests. "The organization of the gathering took more than a year and we were prepared for every opportunity," says Fr. Susanto. The event allowed the children to make new friends and celebrate their faith through the Eucharist among the various activities. Bishop Henricus Pidyarto Gunawan, bishop of Malang, expressed his deep appreciation for the event.

Fr. Susanto emphasizes that the gathering, aimed exclusively at children, is the result of an idea of ​​the local diocese and clergy. Last July, a similar event took place in Palembang, South Sumatera, where the Association of Pontifical Mission Societies of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference (Kwi) invited around 900 children to attend an adolescent gathering at the archdiocese. The same month, the five days of the Papuan Jamboree of Sekami Remaja in Aimas, about 25 km from Sorong (diocese of Sorong-Manokwari) saw the participation of about 730 young teenagers and 140 carers. Coming from the two provinces in Papua, the young people gathered at the minor Seminary of Van Diepen to celebrate the common goal of their mission of "being Catholic".

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