08/09/2014, 00.00
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Forming the intellect and the spirit of Indonesia's Catholic university students, the country's future excellence

by Mathias Hariyadi
The aim of the seminar attended by 10 young students from Java's best universities. Catholic psychologist: forming mature adults in their personality and behaviour. Student Gadjah Mada: nurturing a critical sense to be ever more worthy "before God and society."

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Nourishing the intellect and strengthening the "spirituality" of young Catholic university students in Indonesia, through a formation course that deals with matters of faith, behaviour and attitudes of (potential) future professionals and leaders in various fields.

These were the aims of ten students enrolled at Java's top universities Java, who participated in a five-day workshop that was held in early August in the Samadi center for spiritual retreats, East Jakarta, with the support of the Yayasan Bhumiksara foundation. Jesuit priest Fr. Herry Wijayanto, led the sessions assisted by (ex-seminarian) Prof. Danang, the Jesuit seminarian Wawan and Catholic activist Isti.

The university students attend Java's leading universities for higher education, thanks to a scholarship program sponsored by the Foundation Bhumiksara, which covers the cost of the entire plan - 4 or 5 years depending on the faculty. They have chosen specializations in the fields of agriculture, technology, pharmaceuticals, in English language and literature, medicine, statistics, economics, sociology and psychology.

According to Royani Lim, executive director of the foundation, the students were selected through criteria that include rigid procedures, but also on the advise of university chaplains and priests. The young people, he says, have achieved good results in the last four semesters.

One of the main speakers was Prof. Bernadette Setiadi, a psychologist and former rector of the Catholic University of Atma Java, in Jakarta.  She encouraged the future (potential) professionals to become "mature adults both in personality and behavior," to be "good Catholics in society ".

Prof. Danang invited young people to exercise a sense of "independence" and leadership, combining at the same time a focus on socio-political themes that are of increasing importance.

Speaking to AsiaNews at the end of a work session Felicia, from the University of Indonesia, confirmed the importance of this kind of seminar, because it helps to improve the quality of life through education and personal reflection following the exercises of Saint Ignatius.

Florentina, from the University of Gadjah Mada, agrees, saying she took part in the seminar to "improve my self knowledge" and better understand what makes me worthy "before God and society."

Finally, Maxi, from the same university, says he learned something more "about my strengths and weaknesses".

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation. Catholics number only seven million or 3 per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, they are around 3.6 per cent. Despite everything, Catholics have contributed to the nation's development and play a major role in emergency operations, as was the case during thedevastating floods of January 2013.



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