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Covid kills three Indonesian priests, infects archbishop

Merauke prelate and 28 nuns test positive as the number of cases nationwide passes 1 million

Covid kills three Indonesian priests, infects archbishop

Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke, seen here in a 2018 image, was infected with Covid-19 on Jan. 29, the day before he was due to preside over the ordination of deacons and priests in Amboina Diocese. (Photo: Katharina R. Lestari/UCA News)

Three Divine Word (SVD) priests in Indonesia have died of Covid-19 in the last four days, while an archbishop and dozens of nuns at a convent have been infected as cases across the country surpassed one million.

Father Jusuf Halim, 65, died on Jan. 29 at a hospital in the Tangerang suburb of Jakarta, according to Father Gregorius Genane Kaha, SVD provincial in Java.

"We will sorely miss a confrere of missionary charisma, particularly in the family apostolate," he said in a statement, adding that the priest had founded several groups that promoted family values.

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Elsewhere, Father Aloysius Supriyadi, 46, who had worked as a missionary in Chile, died in Denpasar, Bali, on Jan. 30 "due to Covid-19 and other complications," according to Father Herman Yosep Babey, parish priest of Denpasar Holy Spirit Cathedral Church.

Catholics in Flores in East Nusa Tenggara province were mourning the death of Father Servulus Isaak, a former SVD provincial in Ruteng, who died on Feb. 1.

Father Paulus Tolo, the current provincial, said the priest had diabetes and had been hospitalized since Jan. 18.

Father Isaak was a former Bible lecturer at the Ledalero Catholic School of Philosophy in Maumere and head of the St. Paul College of Teaching and Education in Ruteng which has now become the Indonesia Catholic University of St. Paul.

Meanwhile, Sacred Heart Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke in Papua province was reportedly infected on Jan. 29, the day before he was scheduled to preside over the ordination of deacons and priests in Amboina Diocese, where he also serves as apostolic administrator.

He was said to be stable and was being treated in a hospital in Ambon, where Father Ino Mutra, the diocese secretary, is also being treated, according to Father Ignasius Refo, the diocese's vicar general.

Archbishop Mandagi is the fourth prelate in the Indonesian Church to have contracted Covid-19.

Capuchin Archbishop Kornelius Sipayung of Medan in North Sumatra tested positive last July and Bishop Vincentius Sutikno Wijaksono of Surabaya, East Java, last month.

Apostolic administrator Archbishop Anicetus Sinaga of Sibolga, also in North Sumatra, tested positive in October and died in November.

Covid-19 has also infected 28 Sisters of Charity of St. Charles Borromeo nuns at St. Anna Monastery in Sleman in Yogyakarta Special Region.

Sister Yustiana Wiwiek Iswanti, their provincial, said the outbreak came to light after a worker at the convent complained of a fever, prompting authorities to test all 198 people staying there.

Nationally, the number of Covid-19 cases in Indonesia has reached 1.07 million, with around 12,000 people being infected each day.

The past two weeks have seen significantly more infections in Christian-majority areas such as East Nusa Tenggara, which has forced bishops to impose social restrictions on church services.

Bishop Siprianus Hormat of Ruteng on Jan. 27 extended social restrictions until the middle of February and told parishes to use social media more.

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