06/08/2016, 13.15
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Fr Francis Harjawijata, the first Indonesian Trappist abbot, has died

by Mathias Hariyadi

The 85-year-old religious served as abbot at the Rawaseneng monastery, in Central Java, for 28 years. He translated the breviary from Latin to Indonesian, composed numerous Gregorian chants, and wrote various books on spirituality. He had ties with Italy and the Trappist community in Vitorchiano.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The first Indonesian-born Trappist abbot, Fr Francis "Frans" Harjawijata, has died at the age of 85. For 28 years, he headed the St Mary monastery in Rawaseneng, Temanggung district (Central Java).

Within the Church, he is known for playing a prominent role in the development of Christianity in the country. He translated the breviary from Latin into Indonesian and composed various Gregorian chants.

Father Francis was born in 1931. After entering the Trappist order, he did his novitiate in Tilburg, Netherlands. Sent to Italy, he studied philosophy and theology.

Upon his return to his homeland, he joined St Mary’s Monastery. Founded by Dutch priest Dom Bavo van der Ham in 1953, the monastery was twinned with Koningshoeven Monastery in the Netherlands (until 1945 Indonesia was a Dutch colony). The apostolic vicar of Batavia (Jakarta’s colonial name) Mgr Antonio van Velsen SJ was behind the new monastery.

The monastery became a priory in 1958, and an independent abbey in 1978. That year, Fr Francis Harjawijata became the first Indonesian-born abbot.  He served for 28 years until 2006.

During this period, Fr Francis founded a female convent linked to the abbey in Mount Merbabu, Salatigaa district (Central Java). Given his experience in Italy, he also sent monks from his monastery to the Vitorchiano Monastery (Italy) in 1979 for further training. By 1985, 11 Indonesian religious spent time in Italy.

In addition to translating several sacred texts and composed chants that are still performed in Indonesian churches, Fr Francis Harjawijata also wrote several books on spirituality, which have been read by religious, nuns and priests all over the country for decades.

Currently, the Monastery in Rawaseneng has 35 monks.

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