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Java Archbishop Praises Holy Family Priests For Decades Of Service

Indonesia

October 09 2007

Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Semarang has thanked Holy Family priests for 75 years of service in Java, calling them one of the three "pillars" of his archdiocese.

"Thanks to the service of Holy Family priests, the pastoral burden in Semarang archdiocese has been lighter," Archbishop Suharyo declared on Sept. 28 in his homily during a thanksgiving Mass marking the close of the yearlong anniversary celebration.

Holy Family Bishop Fransiskus Xaverius Rocharjanta Prajasuta of Banjarmasin and Father Yohanes Rohmadi Mulyono, head of Holy Family´s Java Province, concelebrated the Mass at the chapel of Holy Family Major Seminary in Sleman, Yogyakarta, 405 kilometers southeast of Jakarta.

Members of the province -- 91 priests, three brothers and 49 seminarians -- were among 600 clergy, laypeople and Religious who attended the Mass.

Archbishop Suharyo identified Holy Family, Jesuit and diocesan priests as the "three pillars" that support the archdiocese, and said, "Thanks to the pillars, apostolic work and seminary education have developed well."

He then traced God´s guiding hand in the success of Holy Family missioners after landing in Java in February 1932: "Only one month later, they baptized two Javanese. More than that, one local young man entered seminary in 1936. This is really the work of God, who borrowed the hands, minds and hearts of the congregation´s members. For this, we should give our praise and thanks."

The archbishop especially applauded the wisdom of the first three Holy Family missioners -- Dutch Fathers M.J.X. Wilkens, J. Van der Steegt, N. Havenman -- for laying a proper foundation for their apostolic work. "They did not serve people living in big cities but in remote villages, and villagers welcomed them," he said. "Concrete evidence of their mission work," he pointed out, is the epithet "native pastor" that people bestowed on Father Havenman.

Before the Mass ended, Father Mulyono responded by saying, "So far, we feel that Archbishop Suharyo pays much attention to us." He acknowledged that Holy Family missioners in Java have left a legacy of being "always praised and rarely or never criticized," and said he hopes this would encourage Holy Family members to continue the tradition of humble service.

"Such praise also challenges us to do more and better in our apostolic work, family apostolate and higher education for priests," he said. He then thanked bishops, Religious congregations, Church organizations and laypeople that have supported the congregation´s work in Java, as well as elsewhere in Indonesia.

Father Mulyono earlier told UCA News his confreres serve in 12 parishes of Semarang and two parishes of Jakarta. "These archdioceses want us to do family apostolate, our most prominent work," he said, but his congregation also helps the whole Indonesian Bishops´ Conference by running its Commission for Family.

Additionally, he noted, the congregation has an ongoing formation program for "our own members and other congregations´ members who are facing problems, so that they can maintain their religious vocation." Even so, he said, the congregation´s core work is family-oriented activities such as premarital preparation, family consultations and seminars on family at the parish level.

The congregation´s yearlong celebration began on Sept. 28, 2006, with a Mass Bishop Prajasuta led at Sancta Familia (Holy Family) Church in Atmodirono, Semarang. Thereafter, parishes run by Holy Family priests conducted special activities such as open houses, youth meetings, choir and religious song contests, and family retreats.

La Salette Father P. Jean Berthier (1840-1908) founded the Congregation of Missionaries of the Holy Family in 1895 in Grave, the Netherlands.

Before launching work on Java Island, Holy Family missioners went in 1926 to what is now called Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo Island. Their efforts led to the development of today´s Banjarmasin diocese and Samarinda archdiocese, respectively in South Kalimantan and East Kalimantan provinces.

Besides Bishop Prajasuta, two other prelates serving in Indonesia belong to the Holy Family congregation: Archbishop Florentinus Sului Hajang Hau of Samarinda and Bishop Aloysius Maryadi Sutrisnaatmaka of Palangkaraya.

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