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Bringing the church to farmers' fields

Pastoral work for Indonesian priest involves taking care of his flock economically as well as spiritually

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Bringing the church to farmers' fields

This corn-planting ceremony on Nov. 14, organized in collaboration with local authorities, was part of Father Benediktus Jaya's efforts to develop the local economy for his parishioners in Datak on Flores island. (Photo supplied)

For Father Benediktus Jaya, a parish priest on Indonesia’s predominantly Catholic island of Flores, his altar is not only in the church where he celebrates Mass but also in the fields of his parishioners, 90 percent of whom are farmers.

He believes that helping to build the local economy is an inseparable part of his pastoral work.

"Holiness occurs not only through prayer but also when I help develop people's economic standing for the better," the 54-year-old priest told UCA News. 

"I practice what the diocese has committed to, namely integral pastoral care which is not only limited to the sacraments, but also to the market, which refers to socioeconomic life," said Father Jaya, of St. Teresa of Calcutta Church in Datak, Ruteng Diocese.

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