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Catholic Students Publish Spiritual Experiences

Updated: February 21, 2007 05:00 PM GMT
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Students of a Catholic senior high school in Jakarta have published six books sharing their spiritual experiences.

Thanks God; Ready, Set, Go!; The Angel of Love; I Love You, Lord; Doa Harian Pelajar (student daily prayer); and Kaleidoskop (kaleidoscope) were written by 19 Catholic girls from St. Ursula Senior High School in central Jakarta.

The books were published by Obor (torch), a local Catholic publishing house, and launched on Feb. 3 at the school.

At the launch, Jesuit Father Gregorius Soetomo, chief editor of Hidup (life), a Jakarta-based weekly, had high praise for the budding authors.

"They are very creative. It is very good that teenagers can express their faith through deep experiences," he said. The books have good evangelization value, he continued, because "they contain students´ concrete experiences of the teachings in the Bible."

"I highly support young people´s creative efforts that benefit others," he said. "This will enrich and strengthen young people´s faith."

The books emerged from a June 22-23 workshop Obor conducted on writing prayer and reflection books for teenagers. The first such program, it was designed to nurture young talent. Twenty-five girls from St. Ursula joined the workshop, which produced 164 potential titles. The students, working with publishing house editors, were given a September deadline to refine pieces. In September, Obor received 12 manuscripts.

In addition to the six books launched recently, another six will be published later this year. The books will be sold for 20,000-30,000 rupiah (US$2.20-3.30) each, with the writers receiving 10 percent of the proceeds.

Lucia Pujiastuti, a teacher at St. Ursula´s, said the students did not get any assistance from their teachers. They worked on their manuscripts in addition to their regular homework and other school activities.

At the book launch, Grace S. Wiradjaya, who wrote I Love You, Lord, told guests her book contains reflections from her spiritual experiences.

"I realize that I have very limited experiences, but I want to share them with others," the 16-year-old said. She hopes her book will help open people´s eyes and hearts to perceive God´s goodness.

Maria Clarisa, who wrote Thanks God with two friends, told UCA News after the event that her book contains prayers written as poems. The book is "an expression of what we have seen and experienced," the 16-year-old student said. "We want to thank God, and to pray to God more often."

Another young writer, Meutia Ayuputri, 17, wants to "share my daily experiences -- mingling with my family, friends, even my boyfriend," through Ready, Set, Go! "It will help people respect one another," she continued. As a teenager, her daily experiences in the book are "very simple," she said, but she hopes they experiences will help people find spiritual comfort.

Ursuline Sister Verena Moekti Koekilandjari Gondosasmito, the school headmistress, told guests at the launch that writing "is a form of formation that stresses not only intelligence but also heart." Through these writings, she said, the students "express their hearts and minds."

The Church needs young writers, she asserted.


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