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Cardinal Appoints Catholic Widows ´Good Shepherds´ Of Other Women

January 08 2009

Jesuit Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta has commissioned Catholic widows to reach out to other women regardless of religious background.


Jesuit Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta (right) talks with Angela Maria Rena Karim during a Christmas celebration for the union of Catholic widows on Jan. 4 in Jakarta.

"Today, I appoint all mothers attending this celebration to be good shepherds to others," said the prelate at the Jan. 4 Christmas celebration of Perhimpunan Warakawuri Katolik Santa Monika (St. Monica union of Catholic widows).

"I hope each of you speaks to five other mothers with problems in your own surroundings and neighborhood. Smile at them ... and if you have something to give, give it to them," he told the 500 participants in the Jakarta archdiocesan hall.

The widows came from 40 of the archdiocese´s 57 parishes, as well as from Bandung and Bogor dioceses in West Java, and Tanjung Karang diocese on Sumatra Island, to the northwest.

The cardinal urged Santa Monika members to serve not only the needs of other Catholic mothers and widows who are not part of the union, but also women of other religions.

He told them such pastoral work is in line with Jesus´ mission to reach out to those who are neglected, isolated and lonely. He stated his conviction that the love and concern Santa Monika members have felt through the union will enable them to carry out this mission well.

Cardinal Darmaatmadja said he wanted to express his appreciation to Angela Maria Rena Karim for starting the union and also ask her and all the members to do more for others.

"What has been established by Karim and all of you is a network of love, and those joining it feel happy because of the love, mutual support and shared interests here," he remarked.

Karim, now 82, founded the widows´ union on June 12, 1982, in her St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Tebet, South Jakarta. Its Jakarta archdiocese branch now has 40 parish-based units. Other branches operate in Makassar, Medan, Pontianak, Palembang, Samarinda and Semarang archdioceses, and Bandung, Banjarmasin, Bogor, Denpasar, Malang, Manado, Purwokerto, Palangka Raya, Surabaya and Tanjung Karang dioceses. The union has about 10,000 members.


Father Aloysius Susilo Wijoyo, chaplain of the union of Catholic widows says Mass for the group on Jan. 4 in Jakarta.

Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo, is considered patron saint of widows. The union named after her offers spiritual and material support for its members.

Union chaplain Father Aloysius Susilo Wijoyo, who celebrated Mass for the women before the celebration, told UCA News that union members need help from one another in their old age and widowhood. "At the same time, they can help others too because others might suffer more than them."

According to Karim, union members have already been putting into practice what the cardinal asked of them. "Members of this union do not only smile at and pray for other mothers in need, but also provide them with food and other assistance," she told UCA News.

She said she regarded Cardinal Darmaatmadja´s request for them to serve mothers and widows regardless of religion a means of "promoting unity."