Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta leads a concelebrated Mass to launch the Month of Mary at the Assumption of Mary Cathedral Church in Jakarta on May 1. (Photo: YouTube)
Catholics throughout Indonesia are intensifying prayer for the earth during May, a month dedicated to the Blessed Mother, amid the Covid-19 outbreak which has hit the country hard since March.
Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, who heads the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (KWI), kicked off the Month of Mary by leading a concelebrated Mass livestreamed on YouTube from the Assumption of Mary Cathedral Church in Jakarta on May 1.
A rosary prayer highlighting Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ preceded the Mass, which began with a procession of an Our Lady of All Ethnicities statue.
In Laudato si’ issued in May 2015, the pope called for swift action on climate change, among other issues.
“We highlight the pope’s encyclical for the rosary prayer as we want to welcome Laudato si’ Week, which will begin on May 16,” Father Matius Harry Sulistyo, chairman of Jakarta Archdiocese’s commission for social communications, told UCA News.
Laudato si’ Week honors the fifth anniversary of the pope’s encyclical. It is sponsored by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and is meant to encourage Catholic communities to take bolder actions for creation during the week-long initiative.
The theme of the week, which will end on May 24, is “everything is connected.”
“The rosary prayer is also held to pray for the Covid-19 pandemic to end. It is a powerful prayer,” Father Sulistyo said, adding that all bishops will, in turn, lead the rosary prayer every night during the Month of Mary.
As of May 1, Indonesia had recorded 10,551 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 800 deaths.
Lusia Soetanto, a 74-year-old laywoman from St. Anthony of Padua Church in East Jakarta, promised to join the rosary prayer each day.
“The rosary prayer is livestreamed on YouTube amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is not an issue for me. The rosary has been my daily prayer for years,” she told UCA News.
“I believe that God, through the intercession of Mother Mary, will help us change the way we treat the earth.”
Agus Koten Medang from St. Helena Church in Tangerang, Banten province, also welcomed the program.
“I am trying my best to spend time praying the rosary. I can buy data for my cellular phone so that I can join the program. It is not a big deal,” he said.
Referring to the pope’s encyclical, he acknowledged that it has encouraged him to not use plastics and styrofoams any longer.
“I sell chicken noodles at my parish’s canteen. I used to use plastic packages. After hearing about the encyclical and the Catholic Church’s call to not use plastics and styrofoams, however, I turned to paper boxes,” he said.