Parish's 100th birthday inspires Jakarta Catholics

Sacred Heart Church represents a happy union of different forms of spirituality
Parish's 100th birthday inspires Jakarta Catholics

The Provincial Superior of Franciscan Indonesia Father Mikael Peruhe (left) and parish priest of Sacred Heart Church Father Agung Setiadi give a certificate to a parishioner at the start of parish centenary celebrations on July 16. (Photo supplied)

Parish life means everything for Anastasia Retno, who has devoted her life to its activities since childhood.

Even after she got married, she and her husband have continued to serve in it, so she has not been able to restrain her excitement as the parish she loves so much — the Sacred Heart Church in Jakarta — prepares to turns 100 next year.

Retno, who was among 2,000 parishioners who attended the opening of the church’s centennial celebrations, said she became a parish member soon after her parents died.

The only child in the family, she was raised by her uncle, who was also a devout parishioner. She participated actively in various church groups, first by becoming an acolyte and later joining the Catholic youth group, where she met her soulmate and married him.

Retno who works in an insurance company, said the church had made a lasting impression on her and widened her network of friendships.

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“My life has mostly been molded by involvement in the parish,” she said. ”I even got a job because of the help of my friends in it.”

Similarly, Erna De Rosari, 61, the head of the Parish Vocation Committee, feels grateful to be living and serving in the parish, which has been a blessing for her. 

“I have four sons who are also active in the church,” she said.

One of her children, Eduard Salvatore Da Silva, was fascinated by St. Francis of Assisi and joined the Franciscans. He will probably be ordained a Franciscan priest in 2020, during the peak celebration of the parish’s centennial jubilee.

Founded in 1920, the Sacred Heart Church is the third oldest church in Jakarta Archdiocese, after St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral and St. Joseph Church.

It currently has 4,437 parishioners and is managed by the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) or Franciscans.

“The Franciscan brothers and priests have inspired our family,” said Rosari, who was born in Bali.

Vincent Fiferius Rambing and Vivi Sucahya, a married couple, said that the parish had also inspired them and they were very excited to be part of its centenary.

Both have also been active in the parish since their childhood, taking various responsibilities in faith formation, the Catholic youth group and parish council.

Rambing said that their two daughters, who are now administrators of the parish youth group, were also excited about taking part in a series of events being held this year before the peak celebration in July 2020.

Another parishioner, Rosiana Tanjung, thanked the parish for helping her family. Her son has nearly completed a course at a vocational school in Jakarta, thanks to the parish paying his tuition fees, she said.

The children’s choir sing during a special Mass for children which is usually held at 9 a.m. every Sunday at the Sacred Heart Church in Jakarta. (Photo supplied)


Challenges ahead

Father Samuel Pangestu, vicar-general of Jakarta Archdiocese, who officiated at the start of the centennial anniversary, said as the parish grows older it also faces many challenges.

He said that being a parish in a metropolitan city, means being a melting pot of people from different cultures and backgrounds throughout the country.

He called on parishioners to maintain unity in order to be able to respond effectively to any situation that matters to the life of the Church.

“Parishioners have to carry out their duties responsibly and wisely,” the priest said.

The Franciscan provincial superior, Father Mikael Peruhe, said the parish has undergone a long journey to where it is now.

Jesuit missionaries, who at the time were managing the Jakarta cathedral church, started the parish. The Jesuits requested the presence of Franciscan Fathers from the Netherlands to handle the Vincentius Orphanage and later to manage Sacred Heart Church. 

Being a Franciscan managed parish, Franciscan spirituality is very apparent here, for example, a routine devotional activity such as to St. Anthony of Padua, which attracts thousands of people every year.

The church also has many reach-out programs for orphans, poor families and people with disabilities.

“For the Franciscans, Sacred Heart Church is very important as it is the benchmark of our journey in Indonesia,” Father Peruhe said.

“As our journey nears 100 years, we take the opportunity to thank God, the people who have been walking with us, supporting us in many ways, through our missionary journey.”

The priest also called on parishioners to continue to build a community in which everyone is welcome.

“Let us, together with the Franciscan priests and brothers, build our parish, a community that grows in number, a community that respects each other,” he said.

He hoped that the activities prepared to welcome the centenary celebration “will strengthen our faith and enrich our Christian spirituality.” 

He also encouraged people to open themselves to, and be embraced by, the Franciscan spirituality, to bring joy to everyone amid the hectic life of Jakarta. 

Meanwhile, parish priest Father Agung Setiadi reminded parishioners about the purpose of a Christian life. 

“Hopefully in this journey to 100 years, we can grow and deepen our Christian life, to be more sincere to one another,” he said.

Father Setiadi said the parish would be organizing various spiritual and cultural activities the next several months through July next year.

He said from November to next June, the community would start a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In this regard, parishioners will go on a religious trip to a missionary cemetery in Gunung Mulia Bogor, West Java.

“In the first week of every month from November to June next year, we will hold inculturation Masses,” he said.

The parish will also organize a series of interreligious dialogues.

Father Setiadi said many other activities would also be organized, including fashion and cooking courses, plus blood donations to the Indonesian Red Cross.

“The goal is to help people grow in their faith, and at the same time rooted in their own culture,” the priest added.

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