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Interfaith charity run aims to build churches in Indonesia

Prelate lauds event for promoting inter-religious fraternity while raising funds to help ailing parishes across nation

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Interfaith charity run aims to build churches in Indonesia

More than 3,500 people, including this nun, participated in the Run4U program on July 29 in Tangerang of Banten province. Most were Catholics but Muslims also joined the fund-raising program to help build churches in Indonesia. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari/ucanews.com)

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Over 3,500 people, mostly Catholics, joined a charity run organized by Indonesia's Jakarta Archdiocese to raise money to build churches in various parts of the country.

Jakarta has declared 2018 the "Year of Unity."

The "Run4U" campaign on July 29, one of a number of Church-led fund-raising runs in recent years, offered people the chance to test themselves with a 2.5-kilometer walk or a more grueling 5k run in Tangerang, a city in Banten province some 25km from Jakarta.

Participants included priests, nuns, seminarians, elderly and young and people from other religions.

"Our main purpose is to raise money to help out with the construction of several churches [that are in need of financial support]," Paskah Widarani, one of the organizers, told ucanews.com.

She named St. Leo the Great Parish Church in Jatiwaringin of East Jakarta, St. Nicodemus Parish's pastoral building in Ciputat of South Tangerang — both in Jakarta Archdiocese — and a chapel in St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Pamakayo, East Nusa Tenggara province among the beneficiaries.

"Those parishes were chosen as they really need our help right now," said Widarani.

Some of the funds will be used to finance a youth formation run by Jakarta's Catholic Charismatic Renewal Ministry, she added.

Sister Vicensa from the Followers of Jesus society, wearing a habit, as she joins a 2.5-kilometer charity walk on July 29 in Tangerang, Banten province. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari/ucanews.com)


Paskah was reluctant to disclose the total sum of all the pledges but said each of the participants had contributed at least 200,000 rupiah ($13) each.

Moreover, all 13 priests involved were billing donors by the kilometer, she quipped.

Father Antonius Suhardi Antara from Mother Teresa Parish in Cikarang, West Java province, who participated in the mini-marathon, said it was a creative way to motivate people to donate to a good cause.

Sister Vincensa of the Followers of Jesus joined the 2.5km charity walk with several other sisters from her parish. She was impressed by how well organized the affair was, especially the way it drew people together from different faiths.

"It was really outstanding, not just Catholics but non-Catholics, too. We can really feel the spirit of 'unity in diversity'," she said.

Kosmas Bambang Sukamto, a 75-year-old Catholic layman from St. Leo the Great Parish, thanked the organizers for deciding to help support his parish church.

"I'm old but I still showed up because some of the donations will go to my parish," he said.

His parish was established in 1992 but construction on the church did not start until 2016 when the local authority granted it a building permit. Parishioners now have to make do with using a hall nearby for their Sunday Mass and other services and activities.

Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta praised the charity campaign in a video message, describing it as a tool to promote brotherhood among Indonesian people.

"Whatever Run4U achieves … is for communities in need," the prelate said.

See the ucanews.com video below of the event:

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