Catholic missioners entered the Dayaks' land in Central Kalimantan through South Kalimantan. In 1687, based on an agreement between Portugal and the Sultan, a Catholic missioner was allowed to stay and build a church in Banjarmasin, the capital of South Kalimantan province. On Jan. 18, 1689, Father Antonio Ventimiglia of the Theatin Order, arrived in Banjarmasin from Goa (India).
His meeting with a Dayak Ngaju (Ngaju is a subtribal group of the Dayaks) in the ship that brought him to Banjarmasin encouraged him to carry out mission work among the Dayaks, the major tribe of Kalimantan. Then, accompanied by a Dayak, he traveled by boat, complete with altar, to say Mass along the Barito River and inland into Kalimantan. Thanks to his good relations with the natives, he baptized 3,000 people.
The Catholic Church in Central Kalimantan, however, slowly declined after the death of Father Ventimiglia in 1691. However, the symbol of the cross is still used by tribal people in home accessories and tribal instruments.
The apostolic prefecture of Kalimantan was established in 1905 and Pontianak, capital of West Kalimantan, was the base of the apostolic prefect. The apostolic prefecture of Kalimantan became apostolic vicariate in 1918, and on May 21, 1938, the Vatican erected the apostolic prefecture of Banjarmasin, whose territory included South Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and East Kalimantan. It became an apostolic vicariate on 1949.
On April 14, 1993, the Vatican erected the 153,564-square-kilometer diocese of Palangka Raya, which includes the whole territory of the Central Kalimantan province, with Bishop Julius Aloysius Husin, MSF, as its first bishop.
Bishop Husin, however, died on Oct. 13, 1994. Since then, apostolic administrators Divine Word Father Martin M. Anggut, Capuchin Monsignor Fl. Sidot OFM Cap, and Holy Family Father Willibald Pfeuffer led the diocese for seven years.
On Jan. 23, 2001, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Aloysius Sutrisnaatmaka, MSF as bishop of Palangka Raya. He was episcopally ordained on May 7, 2001. His episcopal motto is "Permanere In Gratia Dei (Living in God's Grace)."