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Indonesia

Indonesia's painting priest dies at 89

Dutch-born Jesuit Father Sugiri used art as part of his mission to evangelize

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Indonesia's painting priest dies at 89

Dutch-born Jesuit Father Lambertus Martinus van den Heuvel Sugiri with one of his paintings at St. Theresa Church in Jakarta. (Photo: Katharina R. Lestari/UCA News) 

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Jesuit Father Lambertus Martinus van den Heuvel Sugiri, who co-pioneered Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Indonesia and used art to evangelize, has died at the age of 89.

The Dutch-born priest died in a Jakarta hospital after a short illness.

A requiem Mass was to be livestreamed on YouTube at 6pm local time on June 11 from St. Theresa Church in Menteng, Central Jakarta, where the priest had served since 2005. 

A funeral Mass will also be livestreamed at 9am on June 12 on the same social media platform.

Father Sugiri, who arrived in Indonesia in 1952, had a passion for painting which was deeply influenced by Ignatian spirituality. He found inspiration in the work of Jeronimo Nadal, a 16th-century Jesuit priest who used an illustrated Bible to communicate the Gospels to those he served.

In January 2016, he exhibited his paintings in Gambir in Jakarta.

He produced about 300 paintings currently kept at St. Theresa Church in Menteng, a suburb of Jakarta, and at the Catholic-run Sanggar Prathivi Arts Studio, also in the capital.

Jesuit Father Fransiskus Xaverius Dedomau Djatmiko da Gomez from St. Theresa Church paid tribute to Father Sugiri, praising his spirituality.

“He was a man filled with spirit. Even though he had retired, he continued to paint. For him, painting was a medium of evangelization. He never forgot these words: the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ,” he told UCA News.

“His life was so dynamic. He read a lot of books which gave him many ideas.” 

Father Sugiri was born in Bernheeze in the Netherlands on Dec. 23, 1930, and ordained a Jesuit priest on July 31, 1964.

Having arrived in Indonesia in 1952, he served in several parishes before becoming parish priest at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta in 1996. He retired in 2005.

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