Research, Technology and Higher Education minister, Mohamad Nasir, third from left, signs an inscription formally inaugurating St. Paul Catholic University of Indonesia in Ruteng on May 26, witnessed by Bishop Silvester San, Apostolic Administrator of Ruteng Diocese and university administrators. (Photo by Markus Makur/ucanews.com)
The Indonesian government has inaugurated the first Catholic university on the Catholic majority island of Flores.
Research, Technology and Higher Education minister, Mohamad Nasir, inaugurated St. Paul Catholic University of Indonesia — an amalgamation of St. Paul Teacher Training College and the St. Paul Health Science Academy — on May 26.
The university will be managed by Ruteng Diocese, which covers West Flores in, East Nusa Tenggara province.
Minister Nasir hoped that with the establishment of the university the Catholic Church and local government would pay close attention to the development of education in the region.
"I hope the district head, the bishop and the rector work together to build a good education for our children," he said at the inauguration ceremony.
Central government would encourage the university's development, such as helping children from disadvantaged families get scholarships.
"All our children must get a quality education," he said.
The minister also reminded the bishop, priests, and lecturers, that the university must produce graduates who will promote tolerance and fight extremism.
“The university is our shared place to care for brotherhood in diversity,” he said.
Bishop Silvester San, apostolic administrator of Ruteng Docese said, the university is part of the Church’s responsibility to educate future generations and support government programs to improve the quality of human resources.
He also stressed that the university was an integral part of the Church’s mission to proclaim the Good News.
"The priests who manage this university must work hard to produce reliable leaders able to adapt to the changing environment," he said.
Father John Boylon, the rector, said the Catholic community had long waited for a university and hoped it will become the university of choice for many young people in the eastern region.
“It is hoped that in the future, students would no longer leave Flores to study, but do so at the university,” he said
Father Max Regus, a lecturer, said the university would develop several programs, particularly ones truly in accordance with the needs of local people.
He said that since the majority of local people are farmers, the university has a faculty of agriculture, to go alongside teacher training and health education.
Franciscan Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula, chairman of the National Council of Catholic Education who worked for the establishment of the university, said the “the university must produce professional graduates, who have an entrepreneurial spirit and one of service.”
“If those things can be realized, the people will naturally choose to study here," he said.
The new university has about 4,000 students, 80 percent of whom from disadvantaged families.