Moluccas: Fire destroys Ambonia’s Xaverian seminary
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The fire broke out around noon yesterday following a (probable) short circuit, causing serious damage to the Xaverian Seminary in the Diocese of Amboina, the capital of the Indonesian province of Moluccas. It has caused substantial damage to the structure, in particular the second floor where the fire has spread rapidly; the flames engulfed 15 rooms that housed the students, a chapel for prayer and the guardian's quarters. Most of the first floor was spared - where the classes, the dining room and the main kitchen are located - thanks to the prompt intervention of the teams of firefighters who managed to extinguish the flames.
The seminary is located near the cathedral and the rectory, where the Bishop of Amboina Msgr. Petrus Canisius Mandagi resides. The rector Fr. Man Oratmangun confirms that the fire has caused "serious" economic damage, without providing further details on the cause of the accident. The most likely cause is a short circuit, but the police have launched an investigation into the incident.
Contacted by AsiaNews, local Catholic journalist Merry Vitalia, reports that temporary housing "will be set up soon" for the 17 seminarians, in "free rooms at the diocesan pastoral center". However , the atmosphere among seminarians is a gloomy one, because the rooms were severely damaged and many "have lost all their belongings".
The structure had celebrated its 25th anniversary on December 4 , 2013, with a Mass presided over by the bishop along with more than 30 priests. The seminary was established in 1988 and has helped more than 350 students to reach graduation, with 15 of them currently preparing for the priesthood.
Historically, the Diocese of Amboina has always contributed greatly to evangelization, with a growing number of male and female vocations. Many of the candidates come from Tual, Tanimbar, Kei, small islands of the Moluccas whose population are 99% by Roman Catholic, the result of the missionary work of St. Francis Xavier who planted the seed of faith in the region. A significant fact, given that in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world , Catholics are a small minority of about seven million people, the equivalent to about 3% of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta Catholics count for 3.6% of the total population.