08/16/2016, 15.56
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Yogyakarta, 80th anniversary of the St Paul Seminary

by Mathias Hariyadi

Dutch missionaries founded the institute in Muntilan, the "Bethlehem of Java", the area where Christianity was born. So far, the seminar has trained hundreds of priests, 14 of whom have become bishops. On 15 August the diocese marked the event by celebrating Mass and putting on a puppet show depicting the life of Saint Paul.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Indonesian Church yesterday marked the first 80 years of the Major Seminary of St Paul Kentungan in Yogyakarta (Central Java), the nation's oldest seminary, located in the cradle of Christianity in Indonesia.

On Sunday, the diocese held a day of events on the feast day of the Assumption attended by hundreds of faithful to celebrate the anniversary of the educational facility.

The festivities opened with a Mass celebrated by Mgr Julius Darmaatmadja, archbishop emeritus of Jakarta, along with a dozen priests from the diocese of Semarang.

Fr Agustinus Handi Setyanto, from the Diocese of Purwokerto, presented a show of traditional puppets centred on the figure of Saint Paul, the patron saint of the seminary.

Fr Joseph Kristanto Suratman, rector of the seminary, explained that the figure of the Apostle is very important for the young men who take the path of the priesthood.

"Through this great apostle of the early years of Christianity, we are urged to imitate his mission in our work,” he said.

St Paul Seminary was founded in 1936 in the small town of Muntilan, the " Bethlehem of Java," where Christianity began to spread thanks to the Sendang Sono Shrine, and the work of the Dutch Jesuit priests (until 1945 Indonesia was under Dutch rule).

Bishop Willekens wanted the seminary to make evangelisation of the country more effective, after the minor seminary was founded in 1911. The institute also sought to create a class of indigenous priests who did not have to rely on Dutch missionaries.

In 80 years of history, St Paul Seminary has moved nine times, until settling in Kentungan (Yogyakarta) in 1968.

The first ordinations occurred in 1942, when four seminarians received the sacrament of ordination in the Parish of St Joseph Bintaran.

In the following 26 years, the seminary trained another 72 priests, then parish priests in 10 dioceses.

To date, hundreds of priests, 14 bishops and religious from different congregations graduated from the school.

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