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Church launches fundraiser to support Indonesian education

Bishops join priests nuns and brothers in month-long sporting campaign to raise money for poor rural schools, teachers

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Church launches fundraiser to support Indonesian education

Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta strikes a gong to officially kick off the Caritas Christmas Cross Challenge 2020, or 4C, during a concelebrated Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta on Dec. 1. (Photo supplied)

More than 3,000 bishops, priests, brothers and nuns as well as Catholic laymen from across Indonesia and overseas are joining a virtual sporting event organized by the Catholic community to raise money this Christmas for teachers and schools in the country’s remote areas.

Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, chairman of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (KWI), and 17 bishops are among those taking part in the event called the Caritas Christmas Cross Challenge 2020, or 4C.

The event involves participants taking part in sponsored walks, runs or cycling over the course of a month.

It was the brainchild of the Indonesian Jesuit Alumni Association and supported by various Catholic institutions including Caritas Indonesia (Karina) and the KWI.

Cardinal Suharyo officially kicked off the event at a concelebrated Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta on Dec. 1.

“This effort has a diverse range of participants who run, walk or cycle, from senior high school students to people aged up to 86 years old,” Cardinal Suharyo said during the Mass livestreamed on YouTube.

Jesuit Father Antonius Widyarsono, a concelebrant of the Mass, said the involvement of the cardinal, bishops, priests, brothers and nuns in such an event “was probably a world first.”

Event organizer Glenn Sebastian told UCA News donations have been pouring in since Nov. 15, long before the event started.

“A 50,000 rupiah [about US$3.50] donation gets one point. One point is equal to one kilometer for running, one kilometer for walking, and three kilometers for cycling,” he said.

He said 133 teams, each with about 30 participants, will cover the distance determined by the number of points tallied from the money raised each day.

Participants may choose their own time and venue to run walk or cycle, either individually or in a group.

Before they start, they need to log on to an app created by organizers. By doing so, organizers can monitor what activity they are doing and the distance covered.

Sebastian said they aim to raise 11 billion rupiah during the month.

“At least 1,800 teachers and about 180 schools in remote areas affected by the Covid-19 pandemic will receive the financial aid,” he said.

Teachers in rural schools are poorly paid, while the schools themselves are poorly equipped. These shortcomings have been made worse by the coronavirus, which has forced many to close.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Archbishop Aloysius Sudarso of Palembang, who is chairman of the Caritas Indonesia board, promised to walk at least 4 kilometers once every three days. “I’ll do this to say thanks to donors for their donations,” the 74-year-old prelate told UCA News.

Meanwhile, Jesuit Father Ignatius Ismartono, who serves as an adviser at Sahabat Insan, a charitable group dealing with issues faced by Indonesian migrant workers, began to run on Dec. 2.

“I will do my best to run each morning. It will likely be between 3-5 kilometers,” he said.

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