An Indonesian Catholic has launched a church crowdfunding portal to support the construction of churches and chapels in remote areas and to help the education of children from poor families throughout the archipelago. Jalakasih.com was launched on March 14 at Our Lady of Carmel Church in Jakarta by the Vinea Dei Foundation, a church-based non-profit organization established by Albertus Tan, a 29-year-old Catholic, in 2017. Tan is helped by 29 other young Catholic volunteers in running various church outreach programs. “The purpose of the site as a crowdfunding platform is to enable more people of goodwill to share and donate for the construction of more Catholic churches in Indonesia,” Tan told UCA News. His church-building endeavors began when he established the Catholic Church Care Program in 2010 while he was still a university student in Jakarta.
As support for his project grew, he established the foundation, which has helped build 126 churches and chapels in remote areas, “enabling 115,000 Catholics to have places to pray comfortably.” Tan said the new site adds more transparency to his fundraising efforts as donors can access information more easily showing how their money is spent and the progress of projects. As well as building churches, Tan and the Vinea Dei Foundation, in cooperation with various parishes, provide scholarships for 34 Catholic children from poor families from across Indonesia. They are usually student dropouts who want to continue their education in junior or senior high schools and colleges. “This is a solidarity movement that exists because of the commitment and dedication of young Catholics who want to use digital platforms to help their friends feel the presence of the merciful God,” Tan said. Divine Word Father Ferdinandus Fahik, parish priest of Maria Magdalena Church in Weetabula Diocese in East Nusa Tenggara province, said Catholics in his parish have benefited from Tan’s charity work and welcomed the latest initiative. “The launching of jalakasih.com will help Catholics in remote areas develop their faith,” he told UCA News. He said Tan has helped with the construction of three mission station chapels in his parish. For the construction of the first 50-square-meter chapel he donated 350 million rupiah (US$23,000). “His program is very helpful for Catholics, particularly in regions that are facing economic challenges,” he said. Through the new portal, Tan wants to encourage more Catholics to donate. “I hope this program can help Catholics in villages because they need to develop their faith and education,” he said. Yenny Barlian, who has made several donations to the cause, said what Tan has done over the years is an inspiration to others. “I hope Vinea Dei Foundation will grow and more people who care will help through the site,” said Barlian.
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