09/01/2017, 13.26
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Four Augustinian priests ordained in West Papua’s ‘Bible City’

by Mathias Hariyadi

Manokwari, in the diocese of Manokwari-Sorong, is a predominantly Christian city. The ceremony took place on Monday in the presence of 50 priests, two retired Indonesian bishops, and the provincial superior. Two of the four new clergymen are local; the others come from East Nusa Tenggara province. The previous day, a new church dedicated to Saint Augustine was consecrated.

Sorong (AsiaNews) – The Order of St Augustine (OSA) celebrated four new ordinations in the Diocese of Manokwari-Sorong, West Papua.

Given that the number of Augustinians in Indonesia has greatly dropped in the past few years, this represents an extraordinary event for the local congregation, which falls within the Philippines province.

The ordination ceremony took place last Monday, 28 August, feast day of Saint Augustine, in the faraway island region, in the presence of 50 priests, two retired Indonesian bishops, and the provincial superior of the Order.

Archbishop Datus Hilarion Lega, bishop of Manokwari-Sorong, led the service with Mgr Alfred Gonti Pius Datubara, archbishop emeritus of Manado (North Sumatera), and Mgr Joseph Theodorus Suwatan, Bishop Emeritus of Manado (North Sulawesi).

Father Istoto Raharjo, a Java priest in "home mission" in the diocese, told AsiaNews that the four newly ordained priests are Frs Athanasius Bame, Philip Sedik, Stevanus Alo, and Mikael Janggu.

"Fr Atan Bame and Fr Philip Sedik are native to Papua,” said the priest. “Fr Mikael and Fr Stefanus Alo come from Manggarai and Sikka Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara province."

During the homily, Mgr Lega invited the new priests to remain faithful to Christ and his Church in their pastoral mission.

"Remain humble," said the bishop. "Being faithful to the Church means that priests are spiritually linked to their commitment to prayer and the safe-keeping of their consecrated lives, despite their pastoral work and activities."

The prelate reiterated that priests are called to pursue a pastoral, not a political mission. In memory of Saint Augustine, every priest and seminarian in the order is required to follow the path of the saint's life, marked by two aspects: simplicity and consecrated life.

The previous day, a new church dedicated to Saint Augustine was consecrated in Manokwari. The city is known in Indonesia as "Bible City " because the majority of its population is Christian, particularly Catholic.

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