Indonesia experiences golden season of Christian religious vocations

While European countries suffer from a lack of priests, and religious vocation seems increasingly unattractive, Indonesia, the most populous Muslim state in the world, is experiencing a golden season of Christian religious vocations. In particular, many young men are entering the seminaries. Although there are few young men asking to enter religious congregations, the number of vocations in diocesan seminaries is very high.

More than 230 seminarians attend the San Petrus Canisius Seminary in Mertoyudan, Magelang, central Java, the oldest seminary in Indonesia with its 104 years of existence. “In the Marianum Seminar at Probolinggo in East Java, which belongs to the Diocese of Malang, there are 46 seminaries,” reporter Adam Suncoko tells AsiaNews.

This reality is demonstrated by the number of new priests ordained in Indonesia over the last two weeks. On July 27,  in the diocese of Padang, in the western Sumatra province, bishop Martinus D. Situmorang ordained Wolfram Ignatius Nadeak and Prian Saut Doni Dongan Malau both local diocesan priests of Batak ethnicity.

On July 26, Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko in Yogyakarta, Semarang diocese, ordained eight priests in the chapel of St. Paul in the Major Seminary in Kentungan. Two weeks ago, six new Jesuit priests were ordained by Msgr. Rubiyatmoko, who had received episcopal ordination just two months earlier. The priestly ordination in the Catholic Church of Saint Anthony of Padua in Kotabaru saw the presence of the Jesuit General Superior, Arturo Sosa Abascal, along with his Asia-Pacific General Assistant, Fr. Danny Huang SJ.

In his homily, the superior Fr. Abascal invited the six new priests to have the courage to “go out into the deep.” “Entering into the deep is not an instant experience, but requires a lot of energy, hard work, and is a process that lasts forever, so that each of you is called to become Christ’s companion for reconciliation and justice” .

Speaking to AsiaNews on priestly ordination at St. Paul’s Major Seminary, Father Rector Joseph Kristanto Suratman explained that many “fundamental” motives are becoming the “obvious” reason why young people have been spiritually “pushed” to respond to their religious vocation.

Unlike other seminarians who join the local diocese or religious congregations, Martinus Sutomo Pr took a long and winding road to respond to his vocation. “I grew up in a Catholic family facing serious economic challenges, and I am the firstborn in a family with three younger sisters.” When I finished high school, I decided to find a job to help my parents pay for my three sisters to study, “this diocesan priest wrote to AsiaNews.

His application to the Minor Seminary in Mertoyudan was rejected and he continued to live by starting an internet cafe to raise funds for his family in the Bayat neighborhood of Klaten Regency, Central Java. “My first contact with God occurred when I heard a sentence from a former elementary teacher I was asked. He asked me who I wanted to be in my future.” The same teacher offered him the chance to be called to become a priest.

When he was enjoying his private life as a young internet café entrepreneur, that episode repeatedly reminded him of a longing for the infinite. Finally asked to enter the diocesan seminary of Semarang diocese.

Together with his seven companions just ordained and after seven years of formation, Father Sutomo now states, “I have experienced that God never leaves me, but always accompanies my life.”

A week ago, in the Catholic Church of the Holy Family of Banteng, Yogyakarta, Samarinda Yustinus Harjosusanto from the province of Kalimantan Orientale ordained three new priests. Two priests are local Indonesians from Java, while Fr. David Ravaoavy Samianagnandaza is from Madagascar in Africa. Speaking to AsiaNews a few days before his ordination, Father David explained that he was happy to have had some years of work in Kalimantan and Java to get in touch with the Indonesian Catholics. The most interesting thing for him in Indonesia, he said, is that “this nation is characterized by its pluralistic society in ethnicity, languages, cultures, social values, religion.” “I’m really happy to experience this unique situation in Indonesia” , he added.

Father David completed his philosophical and theological studies in Madagascar, but was sent to Indonesia as part of the MSF (Holy Family Mission) exchange program to offer opportunities to experience work in Madagascar and vice versa. He spent nearly two years at Samarinda in the eastern Kalimantan province as part of his pastoral mission and later in Semarang, the capital of Central Java, for his year of diaconate. His family could not take part in his ordination at Yogyakarta, but some “adoptive” Indonesian relations who accompanied him on his journey were present.



source: Herald Malaysia

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