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In Indonesia, Year of Mercy pilgrimage focuses on elderly

Senior citizen says Sant'Egidio-led prayer service made him feel 'at peace and happy'

In Indonesia, Year of Mercy pilgrimage focuses on elderly

Members of the Community of Sant'Egidio and residents of a Jakarta home for the elderly meet with Bishop Paskalis Bruno Syukur of Bogor in front of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral. (Photo by Katharine R. Lestari)

(UCAN Series: Best of 2016)

The Year of Mercy, which was announced last year by Pope Francis, should be used to show love particularly to the elderly, said members of the Community of Sant'Egidio.

The Year of Mercy concludes Nov. 20 on the feast of Christ the King. It began Dec. 8 on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

"We want to use this Year of Mercy to pay more attention to the elderly by showing more love to them. We get love from God for free, so we want to give our love to others for free as well," Nicholas Amadi, coordinator of the community's service for the elderly, told ucanews.com in Bogor, West Java.

He noted that the community has been serving elderly people in Indonesia, many of whom receive little contact from their families.

"They are sent by their families to homes for elderly persons. It means they are ignored. Some are regularly visited by their families indeed, but some never receive any visits at all," he said.

In order to keep the elderly's spirit alive, Amadi said that Sant'Egidio organized a pilgrimage for nearly 100 elderly persons to the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral in Bogor on May 29.

"We choose the cathedral because we want to give the elderly a special meaning when they enter the Holy Door. As we know that the pope called the faithful to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, which is open in every cathedral or in churches designated by the bishop, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion so as to experience and obtain the indulgence," he said.

Before entering the Holy Door of the cathedral, the elderly prayed the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy in St. Mary of Fatima Chapel located in the Mardi Waluya School. Sunday Mass led by Xaverian Father Rodolfo Ciroi, an Italian missionary, followed.

Father Ciroi, who is also the community's counselor, said that entering the Holy Door would give the elderly a chance to feel the presence of God.

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"For the elderly, this is something great. They stay in homes … feel that they are ignored by their families. Well, this is not true as they are still loved though. Through this Year of Mercy, the community wants to show them that God still loves them," he said.

"By entering the Holy Door of the cathedral, the elderly are called to start a new life, meaning that their faith is strengthened. So there's a new spirit. This is the most important thing for them," he said.


Michael Rashid Hartono, 69, said he moved into a Jakarta nursing home in 2014 after his wife died so that his adult children wouldn't have to worry about him. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari)



Michael Rashid Hartono, 69, said the pilgrimage made him "feel at peace and happy."

Hartono, a widower, moved into a North Jakarta retirement home following his wife's death in 2014 because he didn't want his adult children to worry about him. He acknowledged that he sometimes faces challenges.

"There are people with different characters. Some are temperamental. I don't want to have problem with them, so I usually go to my room," he said.

Charity Sister Ivana Pangalia, an official at the St. Anna home for the elderly, said they have 78 residents most of whom are in their 70s.

"What they need is more attention and love. We should come to them even only to listen to their stories. They are very happy with that as they are very lonely," she said.



Published May 31, 2016 

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