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Pope makes unusual choice for new Indonesian bishop

The new Sanggau prelate, Passionist Father Valentinus Saeng, is an academic with no pastoral experience

Bishop-elect Valentinus Saeng has no pastoral expecience

Bishop-elect Valentinus Saeng has no pastoral expecience. (Photo supplied)

Published: June 20, 2022 06:28 AM GMT

Updated: June 20, 2022 06:44 AM GMT

Pope Francis has taken the unusual step of appointing a priest with no pastoral experience as the new bishop of Sanggau Diocese in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province.

The appointment of Father Valentinus Saeng, a 52-year-old priest from the Congregation of the Passion, was announced by Passionist Bishop Giulio Mencuccini of Sanggau during a Mass on June 18 at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral Church in Sanggau.

He will succeed Bishop Mencuccini, 76, who officially retired following the episcopal announcement.

Bishop-elect Saeng said he was very surprised at being asked to take on the role since he has lived as an academic rather than as a pastoral priest for many years.

He has served as a philosophy lecturer at the Widya Sasana School of Philosophy and Theology in Malang, East Java province, since 2008.

“I never plunged into the pastoral world at all. I did not really expect to be considered as a potential bishop of Sanggau even though I come from there,” he told UCA News.

“Theory and practice are pretty much different — it is like heaven and earth. So, the first step I will make is to learn, to listen, to get input, to analyze the situation, and so on”

He said he will have to learn about pastoral work from parish priests and the diocesan curia.

“Theory and practice are pretty much different — it is like heaven and earth. So, the first step I will make is to learn, to listen, to get input, to analyze the situation, and so on,” he said.

The diocese already has a firm foundation in terms of the growth of the local Catholic Church, he said.

“I will also think about how to maintain what has been planted and harvested by previous great missionaries. I hope I can do this. Maintaining something is not an easy job as I will need patience, perseverance and cooperation,” he said.

Bishop-elect Saeng was born on Oct. 28, 1969, in Keramuk in West Kalimantan’s Sekadau district.

He attended St. Gabriel Minor Seminary in the district and went through the formation process as a postulant and a novice at the Congregation of the Passion in Malang.

He continued his philosophical studies at Widya Sasana School of Philosophy and Theology in Malang in 1995 and was ordained a Passionist priest on Sept. 26, 1998.

The priest obtained a master’s degree in philosophy in 2001 and a PhD in 2008, both from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

He served as a member of the Congregation of the Passion’s commission for education (2008-11) and superior officer of the Passionist Study House in Malang (2008-12). He also represented Indonesia’s Congregation of the Passion at the congregation’s general assembly in Rome in 2012 and 2018.

Since 2011, he has served as supervisor of the congregation’s education commission.

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1 Comments on this Story
BRENDAN DAVIES
He looks like a classic Francis appointment - just saying ;-)

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