UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News


Indonesia's Bishop Julianus Sunarka dies at 79

Jesuit prelate will be remembered for 'befriending followers of all beliefs'

Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Indonesia's Bishop Julianus Sunarka dies at 79

Bishop Julianus Kema Sunarka of Purwokerto has died at the age of 79. (Photo courtesy of Robertus Sutriyono)

Share this article :
Jesuit Bishop Julianus Kema Sunarka of Purwokerto died on June 26 at the age of 79.

The bishop emeritus died in Semarang, capital of Central Java province, after a short illness.

A concelebrated requiem Mass led by Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta was livestreamed on YouTube from St. Stanislaus Kotska Church in Girisonta on June 27, followed by a burial service led by Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang in the Catholic cemetery of Our Lady Queen of Peace, also in Girisonta.

In a homily during the concelebrated requiem Mass, Jesuit Father Petrus Sunu Hardiyanta described Bishop Sunarka as “a great pastor.”

“He loved Catholics served by Purwokerto Diocese and paid much attention to the formation and education of priests and seminarians in the diocese. His vision was presenting a loving God among Catholics together with all priests,” he said.

“As a bishop, he not only served Catholics but also befriended followers of all beliefs."

Bishop Sunarka was born on Dec. 25, 1941, in Sendang Mulya, a village in Yogyakarta province’s Sleman district.

He entered the Jesuit novitiate on Sept. 8, 1963, and was ordained a priest on Dec. 3, 1975. His episcopal ordination was on Sept. 8, 2000.

Having served as a parish priest in Central Java from 1975 to 1977, he became financial administrator of Semarang Archdiocese from 1977 to 1985.

He also served as rector of St. Paul Major Seminary in Kentungan, Yogyakarta, for several years before also serving as financial administrator of the Indonesian Province of the Society of Jesus and as chairman of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for the Laity.

He resigned as a bishop on Dec. 29, 2016, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75. In 2017, he moved to the Emaus Girisonta retirement home.

Speaking to UCA News on June 28, Bishop Christophorus Tri Harsono, who succeeded Bishop Sunarka, called him “a merciful bishop.”

“He was amazing. He was a bishop who sought to look after priests serving in his diocese and elsewhere,” the prelate said.

“He often made impromptu visits and forged ties with people from different religions. He was more like a servant than a leader.”

Robertus Sutriyono, a Catholic layman who wrote a book on Bishop Sunarka in 2015, said he would always remember his spontaneous generosity.

“He once returned from a short trip to Jakarta where he had got new clothes. Upon arriving back at his office, he gave them quite out of the blue to the trishaw driver who had picked him up at the railway station,” he said. 

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution