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Indonesian Catholic church hosts Muslims' Eid prayer

The courtyard of Kayutangan Sacred Heart parish church in Malang was filled with hundreds of Muslims on April 10
Muslims conduct prayers on the premises of Kayutangan Sacred Heart church in Malang on the occasion of Eid on April 10.

Muslims conduct prayers on the premises of Kayutangan Sacred Heart church in Malang on the occasion of Eid on April 10. (Photo: facebook)

Published: April 11, 2024 11:58 AM GMT
Updated: April 11, 2024 12:30 PM GMT

A century-old Catholic church in Indonesia allowed Muslims to conduct the Eid prayers on its premises on April 10, saying such moves could help build brotherhood in the Muslim-majority nation.

Hundreds of Muslims prayed in the courtyard of Kayutangan Sacred Heart parish church in Malang, East Java province, as the nearby Grand Jami Mosque could not accommodate the festival prayer gathering.

Catholic nuns, seminarians, and lay people helped Muslims organize the prayer program and greeted them later.

Carmelite parish priest Father Karmel Henrikus Suwaji said the church provided the yard "because Muslims are our brothers."

He said he invited seminarians and nuns to congratulate Muslims and to show “togetherness."

Muslims have been using the church facility for their feast gatherings since 2022. The priest said that the Mass was rescheduled when Eid fell on Sundays.

"We will continue with this practice to maintain togetherness," he said.

Aris, a Muslim who goes by one name, said he opted for the church as the mosque had no space.

He said he was initially hesitant. However, he felt encouraged as Catholics welcomed him and his family members.

"Church people helped us," he said.

The Kayutangan church was founded in 1905 by Jesuit priest Father G.D.A. Jonckbloet when Indonesia was a Dutch colony. It is among Malang's 32 cultural heritage buildings that tourists visit.

In other regions like West Bangka Regency and Bangka Belitung Islands province, Catholics Youth, a Catholic organization, facilitated Muslims in conducting the prayer by maintaining security along with the police.

"Catholics' involvement strengthens harmony," said Martinus Adi Prianto, head of the Catholic Youth in West Bangka Regency.

He said the youth wing held discussions with parish priests before providing security.

Priests, nuns, and seminarians also visit Muslim families.

In Manggarai Regency, where more than 90 percent of the population is Catholic, Regent Hery Bertus Nabit, together with Ruteng diocese vicar-general Father Alfons Segar, visited houses of Muslims.

Ahmad Nurcholish, deputy director of the Indonesia Conference on Religion on Peace, an interfaith organization, said such traditions are good amid religious intolerance.

These examples strengthen ties, Nurcholish added.

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