Catholic schools retain missionary spirit
Falling pupil numbers 'should not lead to sell-out of values'
Archbishop Florentinus Sului Hajang Hau
An archbishop in East Kalimantan has called for Catholic schools to not sell out their principles in their efforts to attract a wider range of pupils. “The missionary spirit introduced by the missioners in this region must be maintained. This is the Catholic mission,” said Holy Family Archbishop Florentinus Sului Hajang Hau of Samarinda today. Catholic education in the state has maintained the missionary spirit since it was introduced a hundred years ago. In 1907, three Capuchin priests came to stay in a village in Laham subdistrict, Kutai Barat district. Here they studied local culture, and opened a Catholic school in 1911. Now Catholic schooling is managed by the Foundation of Education, Teaching and People Development, which has 31 schools - from kindergarten to senior high school - and 7,248 students. Archbishop Florentinus acknowledged that the schools now face difficulties such as decreasing numbers of students and old school buildings. Suggesting local Catholics should send their children to these schools, he claimed that the schools’ Catholic characteristics have become “the foundation of our educational work, which makes distinctions between our schools and other private schools.” By having such characteristic does not mean the schools are only for Catholic students. “Since the beginning, the schools have welcomed students from different religious backgrounds, because the schools are for all people and were established to improve the quality of this nation.” Archbishop Hajang Hau also recalled that some local Catholics asked the schools to get rid of such characteristics so that more students would register. “But I prefer to keep the tradition since it is in line with the missionary spirit,” he remarked. IJ13721.1646