08/21/2021, 08.00
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Eight new Jesuit priests ordained in Yogyakarta

by Mathias Hariyadi

This is the largest priestly ordination in recent years for the Indonesian Province. Their work in the remote areas of the Diocese of Ketapang is fundamental; home to many indigenous ethnic Dayak, the area is geographically isolated.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang ordained eight Jesuit priests yesterday in Yogyakarta’s Saint Anthony of Padua Church, Central Java province.

This is the largest priestly ordination in recent years for the Indonesian Jesuit Province (Provindo). The new priests come from various Indonesian dioceses (Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan, Pangkalpinang and Lampung on the island of Sumatra, Jakarta, and the Archdiocese of Semarang).

In his homily, Archbishop Rubiyatmoko addressed the new priests, saying: “Each of you is challenged to become a man of the Church, a man of prayer and a man of evangelisation.”

For his part, Fr Benedictus Hari Juliawan, superior of the Provindo, said: “As Jesuits and men sent on a sacred mission, each of you is expected to show a joyful heart and spirit to perform your tasks, wherever you are sent.”

Fr Juliawan then gave a new pastoral assignment to Fr Philipus Bagus Widyawan from the parish of St Mary's Bayat in Klaten, the first Jesuit to become parish priest in the Diocese of Ketapang.

Fr Widyawan will serve in the parish of St Martin's in Balai Berkuak, a remote location in the Diocese of Ketapang, West Kalimantan, where he will pay special attention to the city of Botong, which could become a new parish.

Since 1910, when Christianity first arrived in the area with lay missionaries from Shantou, mainland China, the Diocese of Ketapang has been largely isolated due to inaccessible roads, lack of electricity, and poor communications.

It takes seven to eight hours to travel by car from Ketapang to Balai Berkuak; from there it takes another three to four hours to reach Botong.

“Those who go to Botong must have a strong motivation and great courage, both during the journey inland and across the river,” said Fr Simon Yogatomo, secretary of the Diocese of Ketapang.

"You have to carry two, three jerrycans with petrol on the trip because there is no gas station," explained Markus Mardius, a native Dayak from Ketapang.

Ethnic Dayak are often forced to leave their villages to attend schools in the cities.

In these remote areas, the Augustinian nuns, the Little Brothers of Mary Immaculate and the Jesuit Fathers work in the field of education to enable the natives to remain in West Kalimantan.

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