Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Investing and evangelizing go together
Indonesian credit union spreads some wealth as well as the Good NewsUnion board gives compensation fund
- Melkhior Baran, Larantuka
- March 22, 2011
The diocese launched Credit Union Sinar Saron (CUSS) in 2005, in a bid to improve the living standards of local people and to help free them from dependency on loan sharks and the influence of âget rich quickâ schemes.
Starting as a tiny shoot, it has now grown into an organization with 2,854 members and over twenty billion rupiah (US$2.3 million) in capital.
Larantuka diocese, located on the eastern tip of Flores, is part of East Nusa Tenggara province, which according to 2010 statistics was the fifth poorest province in Indonesia.
Around 23 per cent of the provinceâs 4.6-million people are desperately poor, and are spread evenly across dozens of islands that include West Timor and Flores.
CUSS serves the Churchâs mission by enabling local poor people to take care of themselves, and doesnât give false promises.
Every month, members have to pay a minimum of just 5,000 rupiah and can save as much as they want based on their own financial situation.
For people in Jakarta or any other metropolis in the country, such an amount is not a big deal. But for people in Larantuka or any remote village across Indonesia, it is more of a struggle.
Amazingly, after five years CUSS has more than 25 billion rupiah in capital; not big compared to a major bank, but proof that peopleâs determination can bring meaningful results.
âIt has helped us move forward,â said CUSS director Father Rosarius Yansen Raring.
The union has gone beyond just a financial institution, he said. Since its early days CUSS has been inviting poor people who have no access at all to a banking system to join and help one another, he added.
âCUSS not only collects money, but also creates awareness among members,â Father Wilhelmus Ola Lanan, the unionâs deputy chief said.
The organization has not only benefited members but also other people in need of financial assistance, he said.
âAfter they join they can even borrow money for others in need. And this is a form of evangelization among the faithful,â the priest explained.
At the beginning, the union tried hard to convince locals that it would never make them rich overnight, Father Lanan said, referring to initial obstacles.
Building awareness was an important part as many Catholics were being taken in by get rich quick schemes by financial agencies. It was good they later found out they were scams.
âThis is how we do it. CUSS teaches investors that by being a member they can carry out evangelization work among the faithful,â he said.
One member, Yakobus Kia, admitted that CUSS has more benefits for local people than banks and other financial institutions.
âCUSS cultivates a spirit of solidarity among members,â he said.