A member of the Sant’Egidio Community gives a meal and drink to a man on a street in Jakarta on Christmas Day last year. (Photo courtesy of Florentinus Suwadi)
Florentinus Suwadi, a Catholic layman, has no other choice but to try and survive. His monthly income from selling birthday cards and accessories has dropped by about 70 percent since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Indonesia in March last year.
He’s not alone. Since the implementation of social restrictions and lockdowns to curb the virus’s spread, all aspects of life have been shaken, while massive layoffs have affected millions of workers.
“I suffered my worst-ever decline in income in January. But what can I say? I just have to face it. I have to feed my family,” the father of two says.
He still feels grateful, though. As a member of the Sant’Egidio Community in Jakarta, he has found himself distributing free meals to street people every Friday.
“Jakarta Archdiocese has declared 2021 as the Year of Reflection. It is a time for me to reflect on how I can still care about others, particularly those in more need than me during this difficult time,” he says.
“I will spend some time each day throughout this year praying for the needy and for the pandemic to end soon.’”
Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta announced the special year during a homily at a Sunday Mass on Jan. 9 at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta.
He called on Catholics to play prophetic roles throughout this year under the slogan “Love More, Involve More, Be Blessings More.”
“We, too, are strengthened by Pope Francis, who proclaimed A Year of St. Joseph to mark the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St. Joseph as patron of the universal Church,” he said in his homily.
In an apostolic letter called Patris corde (With a Father’s Heart), Pope Francis described St. Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father, a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.
“St. Joseph was a creative person. He participated in the work of salvation in a creative way. He, through his love and work, was a blessing to all human beings. Let us recite a prayer to him to enliven the spirit of ‘Love More, Involve More, Be Blessings More,’” said Cardinal Suharyo, who also heads the Indonesian bishops’ conference.
In a recent webinar, the archdiocese’s vicar general, Father Samuel Pangestu, explained that the Year of Reflection’s slogan was chosen on the basis of several church documents, such as Pope Francis’ encyclicals Laudato si’ (On Care for Our Common Home) and Fratelli tutti (On Fraternity and Social Friendship) as well as the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.
The document was signed by Pope Francis and the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 4, 2019.
“‘Love More’ is a movement in which Catholics reflect on issues related to the five pillars of the Church’s mission. ‘Involve More’ is a movement in which Catholics raise their involvement in church activities. ‘Be Blessings More’ is a movement in which Catholics build solidarity,” the priest said in his seminar presentation.
The five pillars are kerygma (evangelization), koinonia (communion), liturgia (liturgy), diakonia (service) and martyria (witness).
“The Homeless Jesus Savings program is an example of caring for the needy. It was launched last year, but Catholics can continue to put aside money to help poor and disabled people throughout this year,” he said.
For the Homeless Jesus Savings program, Catholics are called to save 2,000 rupiah (less than US$1) each day during four periods of time within a year to help poor and disabled people.
Anastasius Agus Hartono from the Holy Family Church in Jakarta is among those who will receive financial support from the program this year.
“My neighborhood community will apply for the funding. As a group, we will breed fish in a 6x14-meter pond and sell them at low prices to locals, particularly those much affected by the pandemic,” he says.
“The program is truly beneficial. It helps boost empathy and solidarity among us so that we can share with poor and disabled people.”
In addition, Catholics are also called to join retreat programs held by their parishes during Lent.
St. Monica Church in Serpong, just west of Jakarta, will hold a virtual retreat program every Saturday, starting on Feb. 27, as will St. Gabriel Church in East Jakarta.
“My parish is still preparing for it. My goal is to create concrete actions among parishioners to help those most in need. This is what is most important,” Father Aloysius Susilo Wijoyo from St. Gabriel Church said.
Jakarta Archdiocese has set four themes for the retreat programs: fraternity with family, fraternity with society, fraternity with nature, and fraternity with the digital world.
Following these programs, which will run from Feb. 17 to April 4, will be deepening sessions (April 5 to June 6) and embodiment sessions (June 7 to Nov. 21).
The Year of Reflection will culminate on the Feast of Christ the King on Nov. 21.
“In general, I want to encourage parishioners to ‘Love More, Involve More, Be Blessings More’ throughout this year, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Father Susilo said.