The diocesan territory of 37.530,52 square kilometers covers 11 districts and two municipalities of South Kalimantan province: Balangan, Banjar, Banjarbaru, Banjarmasin, Barito Kuala, Hulu Sungai Selatan, Hulu Sungai Tengah, Hulu Sungai Utara, Kotabaru, Tabalong, Tanah Bumbu, Tanah Laut and Tapin. It borders East Kalimantan in the north, Central Kalimantan in the west, the Makassar Strait in the east, and the Java Sea in the south.
Catholics in the diocese come from several ethnic backgrounds, including Javanese, Florinese (from Flores, East Nusa Tenggara province), Toraja (from South Sulawesi), and Indonesians of Chinese descent.
The history of Banjarmasin diocese begins with the arrival of Father Antonino Ventimiglia, CR, on Feb. 2, 1688. The Sultan of Banjarmasin did not allow him to travel into the interior. So, the priest left on May 27 that same year and went to Goa. However, on June 25, 1689, Father Ventimiglia returned to Banjarmasin and was able to reach interior areas. There the Theatine priest baptized 1,800 people from 15 villages.
On Jan. 19, 1692, Pope Innocentius XII established the apostolic vicariate of Borneo and appointed Father Ventimiglia as apostolic vicar. Unknown to Church officials, however, the priest died in 1691, and the vicariate did not prosper.
On Feb. 11, 1905, the Holy See established the apostolic prefecture of Dutch Borneo, based in Singkawang. The Dutch had colonized Borneo, including Banjarmasin. The prefecture was entrusted to the Capuchins. On April 10, 1905, Capuchin Father Pacificus Boss was appointed apostolic prefect.
On April 17, 1907, two Capuchin priests and a Capuchin brother stayed in Banjarmasin on their way to Laham, East Kalimantan, to open their first mission station. After the establishment of the mission station, the priest visited Banjarmasin regularly, twice a year. In 1924, Holy Family missioners took over the mission station of Laham.
On Feb. 27, 1926, Holy Family Father P. Vosen was chosen as the first priest to serve and reside in Banjarmasin. The mission station of Banjarmasin was officially opened in 1931, and Holy Family Father J. Groen was appointed its priest. Five years later, on April 19, 1936, the first building of Holy Family Church was blessed.
In May 1926, the apostolic prefecture of Banjarmasin was established with Holy Family Father Jakobus Kusters as its apostolic prefect. The prefecture was elevated to an apostolic vicariate on March 10, 1949, and Holy Family Father Johanes Groen became its first apostolic vicar. Father Kusters died of illness on April 18, 1953, and Holy Family Bishop Wilhelmus Joannes Demarteau succeeded him.
On Jan. 3, 1961, the vicariate was elevated to a diocese, and Holy Family Bishop W.J. Demarteau was appointed its first bishop. The prelate resigned in 1983.
On June 6, 1983, Pope John Paul II appointed Holy Family Father Fransiskus Xaverius Prajasuta the first Indonesian bishop of Banjarmasin. Father Prajasuta was ordained bishop by Bishop Demarteau on Oct. 23, 1983. Bishop Prajasuta resigned in 2008.
Bishop Timang succeeded him.
Gonsalo's martyrdom at Nagasaki with the other Christian missionaries is regarded as the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan
Calungsod and his companion Father Vitores baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder
Despite being an ordinary layman, Ruiz remained defiant while facing torture by the Japanese and died a brave martyr
He was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of Korea
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
Asian Catholics who cannot visit famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France can revere miraculous Mother Mary at Velankanni shrine in India. The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as “the Lourdes of the East” and holds the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam, about 1,600 kilometers from the national capital Hanoi.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urakami of Nagasaki is a witness of persecution of Christians from 17th to 19th centuries and deadly atomic bombing during the Second World War. This European-style, red-brick church continues to preserve some relics that survived the atomic bombing. Urakami cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, was almost destroyed when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The church stood about 500 meters from the hypocenter of atomic explosion. The devastation shattered and charred stone-made statues of saints, which were later preserved as relics along with the surviving head of Virgin Mary statue and one of the church’s original bells.
Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment. Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963.
The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria is a small church on the western Belait district of Brunei, but it shot into fame thanks to the nation’s most famous Catholic – late Cardinal Cornelius Sim. It is also the second of three churches in Brunei dedicated to Virgin Mary. In fact, Mary has a prominent place not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the dominant faith in Brunei. Holy Quran mentions Mary seventy times and reveres her as the greatest woman to have ever lived.