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Asia Pacific Augistinian Conference

Convention Address by Bishop Prapdi

This is an address – slightly abridged - by the Bishop of Keyapang, Most Rev. Pius Riana Prapdi. He delivered it at the Twelfth Triennial APAC Convention, which took place at Ketapang on 21-25 October 2014.

Bp. Pius Riana Prapdi: The Indonesian Church and the New Evangelization, particularly in the Diocese of Ketapang

I am happy to stand here with all of the participants of Asia Pacific Augustinian Conference for a reflection together. I thank you to all of you for giving me opportunity to present a speech with the theme: The Indonesian Church and the New Evangelization, Particularly in the Diocese of Ketapang. I would like to divide my speech into four major parts: The Challenge of Church Mission, the New Evangelization, the Indonesian Church, and Diocese of Ketapang in the Evangelization Process.

The New Evangelization

The word “New Evangelization” was first introduced by the Latin American Bishops in the General Conference at Medelin in Colombia during 1968. John Paul II applied the theme during his pontificate. In his address to the Latin American Bishops assembly in Haiti, March 9, 1983, John Paul II called for an evangelization that was “new in spirit, its method, and its expression.” He emphasized that the soul of the new evangelization was Jesus Christ. In the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio (1990) he declared: “I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples” (RM 3).

The same goal of the new evangelization declared by Paul VI; “to make the Church of the twentieth century ever better fitted for proclaiming the Gospel to the people of the twentieth century” (EN 2). Paul VI and John Paul II have similarities in teaching that the Holy Spirit is the main actor of evangelization. Clearly, the new evangelization proclaims Jesus Christ as its source and the goal, and it establishes a deep personal relationship to Him. Pope Francis insisted that “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world. Every form of authentic evangelization is always ‘new’” (GE 11).

The ideas of the Church from the point of view of the new evangelization are as follows (cfr. Walter Casper: 2014);

#1 Church in the process of inculturation. The Church does not stop in particular tradition, but it goes through the living tradition. Inculturation is not a pure adaptation or syncretism. Inculturation works just like salt or yeast; it involves deep internal transformation of the entire culture. Inculturation is a profound Easter process that are death and new life; purifying and discovering. Inculturation happens in the church that lives as the result of culture and social structure that are heading to the salvation. The church always has inculturated face. Paul VI states that of “cultural evangelization” (EN 20). John Paul II affirms the statement of Paul VI that culture needs to reborn within its bind with the Gospel.

#2  Dialogical Church. Evangelization is not one way communication, top-down, one side, west-east, or north-south. Dialog is a reciprocal process, give and take among all of the congregation and communities; reciprocation is not only ideas, but also gifts and life dialogue. The dialogical Church is the Church that fulfills the profound longing of human being. Evangelization is the entire global processes of the world changing into a more humanized world; a world that is worth living in, a world that is arranged according to the God’s will. Human can find their fulfillment in the light of the Gospel. “I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

#3  A poor Church is for the poor. This is not a new thing. Jesus came to carry the good news to the poor. In a deep reality, poverty is a Christological sign of the church, “that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by His poverty could become rich.” Poverty is a call to build a commitment to justice and secularization challenge. The Church is called to be poor-faced with a more modest way. In evangelization, the Church cannot remain indifferent to the suffering, injustice, and oppression that afflict so much of the world’s population.

#4  The Church that testifies through the mass media. To be more effective in our era, evangelization should employ social media including radio, television, and internet. Yet, social media is not a complement of personal engagement. “In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God. But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith. Many people are actually discovering, precisely thanks to a contact initially made online, the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and even pilgrimage, elements which are always important in the journey of faith” (Message of His Holiness Pope for the 2013 World Communication Day).

The Indonesian Church

Indonesian Church develops through evangelization. Referring to the reality of the world and the call to carry the Gospel, the Indonesian Church presents with Indonesian face. Indonesian Church is Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Diversity in Unity) Church. Indonesia is archipelagic country consisting over 10,000 islands. Many of the islands are vacant; approximately half of the islands are inhabited. Each island has its own culture and language, but people use a national language: Bahasa Indonesia. Indonesian population is more than 240 million and the number of Catholics covers 3.15% of the population or 7,622,177 people. The Catholics are spread in 37 Dioceses and Archdioceses. When Pope John XXIII granted Episcopal Hierarchy to the Catholic Church in Indonesia, there were 25 Dioceses and Archdioceses and only 3 bishops were Indonesian. And now after 50 years, only one bishop foreigner (Hasto Rosariyanto: 2013). The number of diocesan priests in Indonesia is 1,317 and the number of religious priests is 1,721. Therefore, it can be said that each priest in Indonesia serves about 2,500 people.

The reality serves as the reflection of Indonesian Church in relation to the four ideas above, from the aspects of “spirit, method, and expression.”

#1  Indonesian church that is inculturation process. The varied cultures and languages in Indonesia exist under Pancasila (the Five Principles), as the country’s way of life. Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Diversity in unity) as the motto of the country has been internalized within the people and the nation history (Marcel Beding: 1996). Diversity shall be the imperator of the unity with mutual respect. From Bhineka Tunggal Ika, the spirit to respect plurality strengthens. Hence,

(1a) Spirit of inculturation: Basic Orientation of Catholic Church in Indonesia 1996 states that “People need a unifying culture. The differences in religions, educational background, social status, legal access, etc cause compartmentalized relation in our nation” (Darminta; 1996: 115). Pope Benedict in the Culture Meeting in Belem, Lisabon 2010 said that “given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful.”

(1b)  Method of inculturation: building missionary soul started from the seminary. The seminarians from different regions follow education based on the same curriculum of the seminary so the spirit of openness is established among them. During the education, there shall be a process of purifying the culture for the sake of faith revelation.

(1c)  Expression of inculturation: simultaneous inculturation happens from the rolling positions of pastoral workers and lay from one place to the other place. This can also be seen from the language, song, dance, costumes, and the Church construction that are adapting the native tradition.  

#2  The Indonesian Church that is a dialogical church. The statistic shows that Catholics in Indonesia live within the society with many different religions; even there are also some multi-religions in families. Naturally, the Catholics own dialogical characteristics in relation with the other religions.

(2a)  Spirit of dialogue: the church as a community considers itself as a fellowship that lives through a dialogue with the people from the other religions, and roots within the local culture (FABC 1974).

(2b)  Method of dialogue: small communities of believers form a living Church. These communities establish a dialogue of life (cfr. Martasudjita; 2013: 675).

(2c)  Expression of dialogue: a dialogue of life is expressed in testimonies within three domains; dialogue with culture, dialogue with other religions, and dialogue with poverty.

#3  Dialogical church of Indonesia also means that it is an open Church. The beginning of the Catholic Church of Indonesia is highly influenced by the lay people. In some Indonesian dioceses, Churches exist because of the lay persons’ encouragement.

(3a) Spirit of openness: the involvement of the lay persons in coordination with the priests (and religion). This involvement of the lay people in the life of the Church is a special gift (cfr. Martasudjita; 2013: 669).

(3b)  Method of openness: almost all of the parishes have parish pastoral counsel. The lay people are involved in all of the Church’s life aspects including liturgy, transmission of faith, social economic team and community service.

(3c) Expression of openness: the parish people are divided into smaller communities – parish station and small group (namely: stasi – lingkungan). The division in small communities is the expression of FABC 1990 in Bandung, which essentially a Church is communion of communities. The smaller communities do not only take part in the Church administration, but also role of Church’s social responsibility for the society.

#4  Indonesian church is a poor Church. The first commission built within the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI) is the Social-Economy Development Commission. The Church gives prominent attention to the poor.

(4a)  Spirit of solidarity: the poor do not need only service, but guidance to revolt and struggle for their own rights as human being. They are people who have power to develop themselves and fight for their lives.  

(4b)  Method of solidarity: Lent Action (Aksi Puasa Pembangunan - APP) as an action to implement the penitential of people. This attitude will encourage the poor empowerment.

(4c)  Expression of solidarity: the inter-diocese solidarity fund from the Lent Action (APP) is going to be used for empowering the poor.

#5  The Church testifies through the mass media. Mass media is a wide space. If it is subtly and evenly used, the mass media can be a great tool to elevate the faith, harmony, and peace.

(5a) Spirit of mass media: having commitment in friendship building, basic questions answering, intellectual support finding, education and skills sharing.

(5b)  Method of mass media: information exchange for right communication purpose, relations building for mature friendship purpose, and connections enhancement for easier congregation purpose. Mature friendship improves people’s authenticity because they can fully communicate themselves.

(5c) Expression of mass media: social networking culture and the change in the communication means and bring challenges to talk about the truth and value and to build an inclusive and dignified community. The digital environment becomes daily experiences of the people, especially the young generation. Almost every dioceses and archdioceses use social networking such as internet, mailing list, e-mail etc. (cfr. Martasudjita; 2013: 683).

Diocese of Ketapang in the Evangelization Process

Diocese of Ketapang is located in West Kalimantan Province. Its area covers two districts; Ketapang District and North Kayong District. The district consists of 25 sub-districts, covering the area of 35,809 km2 wide.  According to the 2012 statistics, the population of the area is 548,709 people. The number of population based on religion is Catholic 115,905 people or 21.1%; Islam 306,788 people or 55.91%; Protestants 42,530 people or 7.75%; Budha 7,116 people or 1.30%; Hindu 5,230 people or 0,95%; Confucianism and other beliefs 71,140 or 12.97%.

The dynamics of Diocese of Ketapang in the new evangelization can be seen from the developing tribes in the land of Ketapang that are Dayak, Malay, Java, Chinese, Flores, Madura, Bugis, Batak, etc. Dayaknese have a close relationship with nature and agricultural culture. The forest harvest such as wood, canewood, honey, agarwood, rubber tree, and fruit become the family’s livelihood. Farming, hunting, pork breeding, house building, customary wedding, funeral procession; are the traditional values that still alive in the villages. The neighborhood is built in harmony, peace, and conformity with the nature. The nature is believed to have spirit that is responsible to conserve the harmony of the togetherness. “In life, by custom hedged around; in death, we lie wrapped in the ground” is a proverb that becomes the main principal to preserve various customary arrangements. Conflict is considered as a violation of harmony. A conflict resolution goes through a customary law process, for instance with fine paying.

The evangelization dynamics in Ketapang is closely related to the beginning history of the Gospel, brought by 3 Chinese brothers in 1910. In 1911, they struggled to draw the attention of Mgr. Pacifikus Bos, OFM Cap (Apostolic Prefect of Pontianak) and then visited Serengkah. In 1919, a school of mission was built at Serengkah. The proclaiming of Gospel started. On May 25, 1942, the Japanese soldiers exiled the pastors and brothers until the end of the World War II. In 1946, 3 passionists came to Ketapang, they are P. Canisius CP; P. Bernadinus Knippenberg, CP; and P. Plechelmus Dullaert CP. They started to spread the mission into the rural areas of Sukadana, Teluk Melano, Tumbang Titi, Randau, and Tanjung. In 1950, the brothers of passionist came as the reinforcement and they worked in carpentry, agriculture, and machinery. In 1949, five Sisters of Augustine (OSA) arrived in Ketapang and helped the people in health and education section. They worked for dormitory, tourney (community visitation), girls counseling, and Fatimah Birth Centre (now Fatimah Hospital). The Medical Mission Sister (BKK) provided health services in Ketapang for 12 years (1971-1983). In 1992, the Sister of St. Augustine Congregation changed to Diocesan Congregation (cfr. Indra Sanjaya; 2013: 271).

In 1952, Ketapang Prefecture established the Education Foundation (USABA). With the establishment of USABA schools, many children from remote area (kampung) could get education accesses through the mission schools built in nearly all existed parishes. The existence of Fratres Immaculatae Conceptionis (FIC) brothers in 1962 also helped the education services. In 1990, the Sisters of Poor Infant Jesus (PIJ or Sang Timur) started to give education assistance in Simpang Dua Parish and Ketapang. In 1996, the Good Sheperd Sisters (RGS) then started to work in women empowerment, pastoral and social services in Marau Parish. In May 2014, arrived Sisters Cathecist of Sacred Heart and serve in Air Upas Parish. Until now, there are 4 sister congregations (OSA, RGS, CSSH and PIJ), 1 brother congregation (FIC), and 1 priest congregation (CP) that work in Diocese of Ketapang.

In 1954, Ketapang mission was promoted to the Apostolic Prefecture by Pope Pius XII with Pastor Gabriel Wilhelmus Sillekens, CP. as the Prefect. On January 3, 1961, Pope John XXIII through the Apostolic Constitution of Quod Christus Adorandus granted Episcopal Hierarchy to the Catholic Church in Indonesia. Apostolic Prefecture Ketapang became Diocese of Ketapang with its first bishop; Mgr. Gabriel Wilhelmus Sillekens, CP. The motto of his ordination is Passio Christi Urget Nos (the Passion of Christ moves us). In 1979, Mgr. Blasius Pujaraharja became the second bishop with his motto of ordination in fractione panis (within the breaking of the bread). In 2003, the vision and mission of Diocese of Ketapang were established. The vision is “Diocese of Ketapang as a Local Church that strives to be more independent continuously struggles for establishing the Kingdom of God.” The missions are:

  1. Implementing Christ’s Threefold Mission as the Priest, Prophet, and King,
  2. Building the community of faith and the real brotherhood that is mature, socialized, and able to give life testimony with the power of faith and morale, rooted in the family and local culture by producing and empowering appropriate working arrangement.

In the Pastoral Meeting of 2013, five pastoral priorities are agreed; they are Eucharist internalization and liturgy of the word, faith catechesis, building the comprehension Church as the people of God, pastoral of Young Catholics (OMK), Church and customary marriage. These five priorities are conducted with an emphasized aspect each year, without disregarding the other pastoral priorities or putting aside the existed progress.  The five priorities are interrelated and simultaneously executed year by year. The five priorities face some challenges existed in the pastoral of Ketapang, are:

  1. The militancy of faith. Some facts to consider: the increase of monoculture plantation and mining exploration, the increase in deforestation and decrease in productive land, the change of land into plantation and mining. These facts change the people’s pattern of life, from customary pattern to the company pattern. As the consequence; overtime working seems to be more attractive than Eucharist. Answering the challenge, in 2014, the Diocese launched the Year of Catechesis by publishing a handbook of catechesis for community. Supporting the year of Catechesis, the Diocese also empowers of the parish pastoral council.
  1. The orientation of life. The limited access to education and the difficult access of the area cause the young generation losing their orientation of life. There are many young people attracted to hedonism, consumerism, and opportunism. The strategies to strengthen their faith internalization are tourney and family visitation. Pope John Paul II senses the future humanity through the family. A family is the “heart” of the new evangelization; it means that a family is a basic of life in faith.
  1. The preservation of creations. The surrounding environment of Diocese of Ketapang is undergoing drastic changes with the arrival of the plantation and mining investors. The climate, weather, and ecosystem change drastically. The challenge for the Church is related to the perseverance of the creations. Since the beginning the world was created, “God saw that it was good,” then all of the creations should be returned to “it was good” condition for the common good. The strategy applied to preserve the creations is conserving the natural forest in cooperation with the customary communities.

Along with a sincere prayer for the goodness of ongoing evangelization in Ketapang, I conclude my presentation.


                                                                                            Pius Riana Prapdi

Ketapang, October 2014


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