1997-07-23 00:00:00

Catholic villagers of Larantuka diocese on Flores Island have donated 60 hectares of land for Cistercian monks to build their second monastery in Indonesia.

The donation "shows their strong belief that the presence of a monastery in the area is more meaningful than a possible appropriation of the land for business purposes," Divine Word Bishop Darius Nggawa of Larantuka said.

Speaking at the June 9 cornerstone-laying ceremony at the monastery in Lamanabi village, northwest of Larantuka, Bishop Nggawa thanked local villagers for the offering of their ancestral land to grow "the seeds and values of the Kingdom of God."

"The Lamanabi people have chosen the best to have their land used as the place of prayer and contemplation of Trappist monks," he told those present, including local tribal leaders and Cistercian Father Michael Santana, abbot of the new monastery.

The presence of Trappist monks in Lamanabi is a blessing not only for local people but also for Larantuka diocese and the Church in Flores in general, Bishop Nggawa said.

According to Father Santana, the remote Lamanabi environment is ideal for contemplation. The arid hills with seven small springs in the area will foster the prayer life of the monks, he added.

At the moment four Cistercian monks are staying in Larantuka, awaiting the completion of the construction of Lamanabi monastery, the first phase of which will comprise a novitiate house and a chapel.

Speaking to UCA News in Larantuka on July 7, Father Santana said the Lamanabi monastery is not a chapter of the Trappist monastery in Rawaseneng, central Java. "The status of Lamanabi monastery is a foundation," he said.

"It is the second Trappist community after Rawaseneng. In the coming months, two more monks will come to join the other four who have been here. Regulations require at least six monks to form a community," he explained.

He also disclosed that at the moment several Flores youths have applied to the contemplative order. "We will select (candidates) after the completion of the novitiate house," Father Santana added.


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