1990-09-07 00:00:00

Thirty Buddhist, four Catholic and two Muslim students from a Catholic high school attended a four-day retreat Aug. 23-26 at Civita Youth Camp, a Catholic retreat house in south Jakarta.

Emmanuel Yosep, a teacher who accompanied the students, told UCA News that the retreat is an annual program of "Strada," a Jesuit-run school foundation based in Jakarta.

"Although non-Catholic students are a majority in our school, all students regardless of their faith must follow the Catholic spiritual activity," said Yosep, who teaches at the Catholic Senior High School for Economics in Tangerang, West Java, 22 kilometers west of Jakarta.

The program is conducted for secondary school students because of identity problems they face, he added. The school does not intend to convert non-Catholic students to Catholicism.

"We provide the young people with spiritual guidance. For those who want to become Catholic, we give them guidance to help make a mature choice," he said.

Christin, a Buddhist student, told UCA News that she participated in the retreat because it was compulsory. "But I find it helpful, and I also want to be a Catholic," Christin said.

She said her parents forbid her to become Catholic. "I am still under my parents´ control, but after passing this secondary school, I will decide for myself."

Scheut Father Albert Pondaag, 31, reminded students that the answers to their problems are in their own hands. "You should make your own decisions," Father Pondaag said.

Charles Borromeo Sister Greta Tumanken, one of a five-member team directing the retreat, said it was not the first retreat attended by non-Catholic students.

Non-Catholic students have attended retreat programs organized by the schools and the Civita staff for years, the sister said.

"The non-Catholic students also attend Masses during the retreat," Sister Tumanken said, adding that the students like the program because "it is a new experience for them."

The sister explained that the name "Civita" means "water of life." It stands for "ci" (local Sundanese for water) and "vita" (Latin for life).

Founded by Jesuit Archbishop Leo Soekoto of Jakarta in 1974, Civita Youth Camp intends to become a resort for those who are thirsting for the "water of life."

The five-member team assigned by the archbishop to conduct the retreat consisted of one priest, two Charles Borromeo sisters and two diocesan seminarians.

Civita does not intend to convert non-Catholic students, said Sister Tumanken. "We only expect the retreat to enrich their spiritual life and provide them with a better understanding of Catholic values."

She acknowledged, however, that many non-Catholic young people are baptized after experiencing a Civita retreat.


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