Mgr Samuel Sidin Oton is the new Bishop of Sintang, West Kalimantan (photos)
The ordination ceremony took place in Baning in the presence of more than 5,000 local Catholics. West Kalimantan Governor Cornelis and local top military officials were also present. Working for environmental protection made Mgr Sidin an environmental hero. The challenges of the Diocese of Sintang include its vast territory, deforestation and the loss of cultural values among locals.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Mgr Samuel Sidin Oton OFM Cap was ordained yesterday as the new bishop of the diocese of Sintang, West Kalimantan. Some 29 bishops from around the country, including Mgr Antonio Guido Filipazzi, papal nuncio to Indonesia, took part in the ceremony held in the city of Baning.
West Kalimantan Governor Cornelis M H, an ethnic Dayak and a prominent Catholic, attended the event along with local top military officials. About 5,000 local Catholics and hundreds of priests and religious paid tribute to the new bishop.
Before his ordination, Mgr Sidin was parish priest at St Francis of Assisi Church in South Jakarta. In June 2012, he was recognised as an environmental hero when Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gave him the Kalpataru Award for his work to preserve Sungai Ambawang forest.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Pionius Hendi, from the Pontianak Capuchin Province, describes Mgr Sidin as a man of prayer and action that made simplicity the trademark of his life as a Capuchin friar.
Pope Francis appointed him as bishop of the diocese of Sintang on 21 December 2016. Later he told AsiaNews, "If only I could refuse this special assignment from the Pope, then I would do it. But [. . .] loyalty to the Holy See is a must for any religious figure."
Shortly before moving to Sintang to discharge his new duties, the new bishop talked about the challenges heading the diocese entail.
The first one is a shortage of priests in a large area (about 60,000 sq km, a quarter of Java Island) where Catholics are scattered in hard-to-reach areas. The second is the conservation of areas endangered by deforestation and illegal activities. The last is human trafficking and the gradual loss of the cultural values of ethnic minorities.
Mgr Sidin’s goal is to educate the local population to care for the land on everyone’s behalf. "If you go to remote areas, bringing the Holy Scriptures is a duty,” the prelate said. “But that is not enough. We must also teach them how to manage their life in accordance with the values of the Bible."