Bishop Of Denpasar Dies

Indonesia
2007-09-18 00:00:00

Bishop Benyamin Yosef Bria of Denpasar died of liver disease on Sept. 18 at 9:18 a.m. in a hospital in Singapore, where he had been treated since Aug. 29. He was 51 years old.

Religious of the Virgin Mary Sister Maria Fatima Yun Bere, a staff member of the diocese´s secretariat, told UCA News Sept. 18 that the late bishop began to experience gastric pains in mid-July.

"The bishop´s health worsened after the simultaneous celebration of his birthday and the seventh anniversary of his episcopal ordination on Aug. 7," the nun reported. "Since then, he had to lie in bed. As his health worsened, he was sent to Prima Medika Hospital in Denpasar, where he was treated for two days, Aug. 13-14."

From there, she continued, Bishop Bria was sent to Medistra Hospital in Jakarta on Aug. 18. On Aug. 29 he was sent to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

Divine Word Father Yosef Wora, a member of the Denpasar diocesan priests´ council, told UCA News Sept. 18, "This evening, the body of the late bishop will be flown back to Denpasar directly from Singapore, and will be laid out in Holy Spirit Cathedral." The diocese is based in Denpasar city, capital of Bali province, 945 kilometers east of Jakarta.

According to Father Wora, the bishops of Indonesia will concelebrate a requiem Mass at the Denpasar cathedral on Sept. 22, and the funeral Mass will be held there the following day. The bishop´s body will be buried in the Priests´ Cemetery in Palasari, a Catholic village 100 kilometers northwest of Denpasar.

"Bishop Benyamin Bria´s death is a big loss for this diocese and for us priests," Divine Word Father Kristianus Ratu of Most Holy Trinity Church in Tuka told UCA News Sept. 18. "The bishop was a humble man, and wise. He treated us priests as companions."

Yohanes Didik Sugiarto, a Tuka parishioner from the parish´s Tegaljaya outstation, shared: "I admired the late bishop. He looked so kind and was always ready to smile at people he met."

From Atambua, western Timor, the bishop´s birthplace, Divine Word Bishop Anton Pain Ratu, administrator of Atambua diocese, told UCA News that all Catholics there "suffer the loss of Bishop Benyamin." The Denpasar bishop was "a capable son of this diocese," he said.

"I personally also feel the loss because he was my priest. I ordained him priest and I also ordained him bishop of Denpasar," Bishop Pain Ratu added. Bishop Bria had been a diocesan priest of Atambua and later its vicar general before he was appointed bishop of Denpasar in 2000.

Despite the sorrow, Bishop Pain Ratu said, Catholics should view death in the light of faith, especially when Atambua diocese is preparing for the ordination of Bishop-elect Dominikus Saku as its new bishop. The ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 21.

"We should see this as divine providence for our diocese, that joy and sorrow exist side by side in life," the 78-year-old prelate remarked.

Ludovikus Taolin, a relative of Bishop Bria, said he and his family "received the sorrowful news with full trust in God´s will."

Bishop Bria was born Aug. 7, 1956, in Oekabiti, a village in the territory of Atambua diocese. He was ordained a priest in 1985. Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of Denpasar on April 13, 2000, and his episcopal ordination took place on Aug. 6 that year.

Denpasar diocese covers the predominantly Hindu island-province of Bali and predominantly Muslim West Nusa Tenggara province, whose main islands are Lombok and Sumbawa. The diocese has 24 parishes and counts 32,000 Catholics in a total population of 6.9 million people.

By province, Catholics comprise 0.5 percent of Bali´s 3.1 million people and 0.4 percent of West Nusa Tenggara´s 3.8 million people.

END

(Accompanying photos available at here)

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