zondag 20 december 2009

A Christmas Girl! Sophie Steenbrink

Dear readers of this weblog, friends and those interested,

On 18 December our first grandchild, Sophie, was born to our second son Stijn, married to Irene Vink. The birth was somewhat premature, after only 34.5 weeks of pregnancy and mother and child had to stay in the hospital. But everything seems to be OK. We are very happy with this new member of the family. It was for us also the ultimate sign of our old age, or rather of our maturity: more than ever before we realize now that the younger generation has taken over the responsibility to steer the dynamics of life.
This year we have several times realized the limits of life: Paule had a severe accident, while coming back home from down town Utrecht on her bicycle. It was perhaps a typical Dutch accident, with only bicycles involved, but in a crowded street. She had a severe concussion of her head, was for more than one hour unconscious. In November she had to undergo an operation to remove cataract in her left eye. It was very successful. For the rest we stayed healthy and even were able to travel during one month (17 August until 17 September) through Indonesia: Minahasa, Ambon and Papua, new areas for us and quite primitive as to lodging and travelling. A long report is in the weblog http://relindonesia.blogspot.com/. Karel is still active in teaching and writing. A new experience was a course in Islam for Hibernia College, the Open University of Ireland. He was teaching at HOVO, courses for retired people, where Islam is a hot topic nowadays. He accepted a series of courses to substitute for one year a colleague at Kampen Theological College. We went together to a wonderful conference about the Gülen Movement in Potsdam, near Berlin and had time enough to visit the palaces and museum of these places. Karel even went to a conference in good old Montreal with a paper on “Buddhist in Muslim Indonesia”. But much of our free time is dedicated to research on the history of Catholics in Independent Indonesia. The trip to Indonesia was for this purpose and we found thrilling new archives and many resources on the subject and this certainly will become another thick book, if we have good health long enough. Paule is quite busy with the family magazine Steenbrink Times and accepted a similar job for the ecumenical congregation of St. John’s Church in Utrecht, where Karel is still singing in the choir.
Floris and Inge lived this year their first full year in the new house in Amsterdam and they enjoy the garden, the greater space in the house and their new environment. Floris had some hectic periods with his company Cisco, when on the national level problems arose in the telecommunication system. Inge does much travelling to difficult countries (Bosnia, Georgia, Romania) to instruct former communist countries in the mechanism of civil society and volunteer work.
So, all in all, we are glad with life, count our blessings and wish the same for you, Karel and Paule Steenbrink

maandag 5 oktober 2009

The Popularity of M&M among Javanese Catholics

Not less than three new books on the early history of Catholicism in Central Java have appeared recently. Anton Haryono, Awal Mulanya adalah Muntilan. Misi Jesuit di Yogyakarta 1914-1940 (Yogyakarta: Kanisius 2009) stresses that the Catholic mission started from Muntilan around 1904, but also entered the major town of Yogyakarta since 1914. Schools first, then church buildings, the Onder de Bogen hospital, the seminary in Kota Baru, but most of all the huge crowds that came together at several meetings in the 1930s. Haryono wrote this book as a Master's Thesis at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. The context of the late colonial period has been more or less forgotten here. Not the rivalry with Protestants and Muslims (who also had their hospital and many schools), but only the single denomination of the Catholics has been portrayed here in a very sympathetic story. It has been written very close to the original reports and the style of Claverbond is present on all pages. Nice illustrations from the rich collection of Kanisius!

Dr. Gregorius Budi Subanar, Menari di Terra Incognita (Yogyakarta Kanisius 2009) is a curious book. It is written as a diary of a student who is involved in a research programme as well as his Master's Thesis on the native Jesuits of Central Java, 1915-1962. It has many transcripts of SNS messages to his fiancee and to fellow students, reports about technical details (should he write a paper thesis or rather make a documentary or even an e-report, only available as a weblog?). In fact the major representatives of the early Jesuits figure in this book. Soegijopranoto, but also F.X. Satiman, the shy and pious man who entered the Trappist monastery in 1940, the twin brothers Eugenius and William Csizmasia von Somogy who left the Jesuit order later in the Netherlands, the very gifted and artistic Michael Reksaatmadja who died too early. An internal conflict among the clergy is also depicted here: Petrus Sutopanitro was on duty in Batakland, where he showed much sympathy for the nationalist struggle, but was sent back to Java by Dutch priests and (neo-)colonial officials. This is a lively style of writing history. Of course very interesting for the inner circle of Catholic historians. Outsiders perhaps will feel somewhat estarnged because many small elements are not explained here. After all, it has the same style of self glorification, talking big and somewhat exaggerating the qualities of the own community. The last sentence of the book is (p. 282): Yes!!! We are the perfect generation. It is not explained, but may be understood in a false way.

The third book is by Iswanti, Jalan Emansipasi. Perempuan Katolik Pionir dari Mendut, 1908-1943, (Yogyakarta: Kanisius 2008). It is a thorough study of the boarding school for girls in Mendut, established by the Franciscan Sisters ´of Heythuizen´. This book can be seen as the even more outspoken feminist and more precise documented counterpart of the more lighthearted Dara/dara Mendut by the late Mangunwijaya.
The body of the book are 20 (self-)portraits by fermer pupils and students in the school (163-393). Besides, a survey of the rise of Catholicism in Central Java is given from the feminist perspective. The quite docile and humble Franciscan Sisters would have been very surprised to read that their activities in retrospect are seen as liberating and emancipating for women. But Iswanti gives strong arguments and illustratios for her thesis. The book has many nice photographs and also numerous illustrations by MSF (Holy Family) priest Romo Koko (if that is his true name!)
I include to other cartoons by this illustrator.

Muntilan and Mendut are popular places in the history of Javanese Catholicism. We now may forget that the glorious Father Van Lith was not on speaking term with his colleague in Mendut, Petrus Hoevenaars. Van Lith is praised as a friend of Lavanese culture, but what about his school that ended as a full Dutch-language school? The present perspective can be used in a way that puts history not always in its 'true' context. I is this writer too obsessed with the colonial heritage? The authors in this respect may learn from the attitude of Romokoko as a critical observer.

donderdag 24 september 2009

18. I Nyoman Paskalis and the Legacy of the SVD Order in Bali

This is the last of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"

Our long trip to East Indonesia ended where it began, in Bali. We arranged again the good hotel, nice swimming pool, beautiful envinroment in statues, images and plants. Still, we made some trips. First to the Protestant hotel annex church, Dhyana Pura (see a History of Chriatianity in Indonesia page 738-9. This was quite a deception, because it is very Calvinistic: no statues in the church, very few images and more a rich Western style church than a masterpiece of Balinese architecture. No 5 below is an image of the visitation, a must for us to give to Marianne Papavoine, born on 6th June sometime ago.

Much better was the day-trip offered to us by SVD priest Paskalis I Nyoman. We visited the new Cathedral, a truly grand cathedral, full with statues, white marble against these nice small red Balinese bricks. The cathedral has a great basement for parking, because Denpasar has become a great town.

Second place was the SVD parish Church of Saint Joseph. In grand design similar to a small church, but in details so rich and very Balinese. Notice the kayun with the two first human beings, but also the eye of God! In the midst of traditional Balinese framing there is a kitsch copy of Michelangelo´s pieta.

A third and last place to be shown here)we saw many other chapels and churches with Father Paskalis' is the first church, built in the style of an open pendopo, no walls, the sacred place is in the wall itself like the tabernacle, also for the sacred scripture, because in Balinese temples Holy Scripture is not shown openly for alle believers. There is here, in the Catholic/Balinese village of Tuka, just north of Den Pasar, once a month a Mass in Balinese. Further Indonesian has gained a place of prominence instead of Balinese.

Not yet enough pictures! The parish house of Tuka is also the SVD centre for the whole of Bali. The religious orders loose more and more their dominant position, that they held until the 1980s. Since then the diocesan clergy has taken over most of the routine pastoral work. The SVD in Bali hope to retain two centres: this one in Tuka and the Northwestern Palasari with the Catholic village that started in the late 1930s. In Tuka and Palasari it is native Balinese Catholics, while in other places its is mostly pendatang, Catholics from Flores, Java and other parts of Indonesia in the flock.
Besides these two Balinese centres, the SVD still have a foundation for schools, from primary tot high schools. For the time being, they will takle care for these institutions as well and our friendly host, Father Paskalis I Nyoman, is the caretaker for this foundation.

In Tuka the SVD take care for the best library of things Balinese, started by father Simon Buys and Father Shadeg. Unfortunately, its location is quite isolated not so easy to reach, but amidst one of the most beautiful sceneries of green rice fields!

Finally, below, the Virgin killing the devil in the form of a truly Balinese naga.

17. To give or not to give, that is the problem

This is one of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"

There are many charitable institutions, organizations and funds that provide help for Papua. One very private programme is by Dutch specialist, who since 1990 gives courses in eye examination for in an ophthalmology clinic of the Catholic Dian Harapan Hostpital of Abepura. Since nearly twenty years he comes yearly for period of 6-8 weeks.
We also met Tio Aritonang, daughter of my dear colleague Jan Aritonang, the Chuch historian of Jakarta. Tio worked first in Jakarta at an international NGO, then in Ternate, then in Aceh (with Cordaid), then in Poso, while she is now in Jayapura, working for CARE in a programme of two year that aims to provide good toilets and sanitary conditions, including removal of waste in one district. She is here with her young husband and their daughter, born in January 2009. Mrs and Mr Steenbrink, not yet grandparents, were allowed to accustom themselves to holding young borns during their visit to our hotel.

A peculiar message in the Cenderawasih Post. The district officer or bupati of the Balim vlley had given six cars to each of the major Christian churches in his region, in order that they should be able to work in the best possible way.
To quote literally: Harapan kami, gereja bisa menjadi mitra kerja pemerintah dan jangan gereja hanya mengkritisi kinerja pemerintah, tapi mereka ikut menentukan langkah kebijakan pembangunan secara bersama, according to Wempo Wetipo, Bupati of Jayawijaya. In translation: It is our hope the the Church will be a true companion for the work of the government and let the church not only utter criticism about the activities of the government, but they should join in the formulation of the policy of our common development.
This is a clear statement about the purpose of government help to churches: is it wise/necessary to receive this help?

In the same time there was a long debate about famine (or not) in one of the mountain regions. Some commentators in the Franciscan monastery of Sentani stated that the churches now receive rice at Christmas in order to give that to the needy and to their members. The result of this free gifts is sometimes that people think that they receive food and therefore should not organize their own gardens and plant sago or potatoes. Giving may kill the wish to be responbile and thus creates dependancy.
We discussed this already immediately after arrival, coming back in Amsterdam, with Floris and Inge. Inge (not here on the picture) has since long been active in ICA, an Institute for Training of Cultural Assistance. Between giver and receiver there must be a clear understanding of what is the best for the receiver!

16. Henk van Mastrigt, a friend of Saint Francis and Butterflies of Papua

This is one of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"

One of our interviews in Jayapura was with the Franciscan (lay) Friar Henk van Mastrigt. Born in 1946 he studied business administration and economy at the Erasmus University of Nijmegen. In the early 1970s he entered the Franciscan order and was sent to Jayapura to serve as the economical manager of the diocese. He found many people of good will, trule devoted to their work, but a financial mess. This was no exception: of all the Indonesian dioceses only Jayapura could claim that it had a professional accountant and economist as the bookkeeper. It took him several years before the administration of the diocese was such that he had an overview of obligations and income. He esteems that, like Manado, but much different from Ambon, the financial state of the diocese is well in order. The rich parishes of the pendatang or recent arrivals support the poorer parishes of njativa Papua people. Besides, especially some of these people of the mountain regions in inland Papua like the Dani of the Balim valley consider facilities like churches, clinics and schools only their 'own' when they have paid for it. They are quite proud people and do not like to be dependent.

Van Mastrigt has developed a special sense for the beautiful and very rich nature of Papua and concentrated in his environmental work on the inventory and classification of butterflies. He has specimens of some 60,000 butterflies and cooperates with international wild life organizations as well as with the department of biology of Cenderawasih University. It is all in the parish house of Saint Francis Church of Jayapura in fully airconditioned conditions with good modern equipment and some extra staff. Saint Francis will like to see this love of nature with some member of his order!

15. Dr. Neles Tebay, man of peace

This is the one of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"

After arrival in Sentani, 3 september 2009, we stayed four days in ht Guesthous of the Cenderawasih University. The the west side of this academic institution is another one, The Protestant Theological School S. Kijne, followed the Catholic Fajar Timur Theological School. So, our lodging was quite conveneient. It was very warm in Abepura and we were happy that we had a bedroom with airconditioning (low ceiling, not much possibility for airing, because it was built for AC). However, there was a shortage of fuel in Papua (from rice to gas, drinking water in bottles, meat and vegetables: nearly everything must be imported from other regions of Indonesia) and so, we had not much profit of the airconditioning.

Because of the heat we did not walk very much here, even not short distances. There is only one major road from Sentani to Abepura and then to Jayapura. Every few seconds there is another 'taxi' small buses for public transport. Below I just insert three pictures of the bus, to give an image of the Papua people we met here. Many migrants, pendatang prefer more luxurious means of transpost.

Of the three academic institutions, our main interest was of course with Fajar Timur. We had contacted before (in the Netherlands) Professor Nico Dister, who had just published a handbook of Systematic Theology in Indonesian. It was not yet available in Papua and we hope to see and discuss it later, because a truly handbook of Systematic Theology is quite exceptional for Indonesia. In Ambon we had received the name and telephone number of MSC priest Izak Resubun, a social scientist with much experience of fieldwork in Papua and the Southeastern Island like Aru and Kei. Resubun is also lecturer in church history and interested in our theme.
Emtering the compound of Fajar Timur is a peculiar experience. The entrance has the great sign of Bukit Doa or Mountain of Prayer. The New Jerusalem in Papua.

Amidst the stations of the cross the visitor walks uphill to a Marian Grotto, a lovely small chapel, but then also to the buildings of the classrooms and the well kept library with a special room for the Papua collection: many books on Papua, majority in Dutch. They are now put page by page on a scanner to make PDF files of these work. Through a partner organization in the Netherlands they will be made available for free on the Internet. (Another project is translation into Indonesia of basic texts on Papua, a private project by Franciscan priest Floor Hoogenboom in Timika/Jayapura. There are numerous programs, projects, organizations in the Netherlands that want to help Papua). The Catholics bought a big piece of land in Abepura for the theological college. There are boarding houses for male and female students at the university. There are special houses for Franciscan, Augustine, OSC students and a major one for diocesan candidates. Diocesan candidates also have to follow a Tahun Rohani in fact more or less a noviciate of diocesan priests. There is a strong movement amongst the diocesan clergy to create a lifestyle that is very close to that of the religious orders. They are calling this lifestyl and its organization Unio. It was established in 1983 and has given much self-confidence to diocesan priests.

The most prominent diocesan priest in the Jayapura region definitely is Dr. Neles Tebay, born in Moanemani, Wissel/Paniai Lakes 13 February 1964. As a young boy he was in the boarding house of the High School under direction of Franciscan Friar Jan Serps. He studied at Fajar Timur in Jayapura, and, after his ordination in 1992, obtained a Masters Degree in Manilla and a Ph.D. at the Urbania University of Rome. He worked at the Diocesan Office of Jayapura for the Justitia et Pax issues and has here published a large number of statements, brochures and the impressive series Memoria Passionis di Papua, a year by year account of all kind of violations of human rights in Papua. Neles Tebay has a very lucid style of writing and is a regular author for articles in the Englis-language newspaper The Jakarta Post. Articles between 2000-2008 are published in a book Papua, its problems and possibilities for a peaceful solution. In march 2009 he has published a booklet of 50 pages on the proposal the have a dialogue between Papua and the Central Government in Jakarta, following the example of the peace talks in Aceh between GAM and the Central Government in Jakarta. Tebay has put several conditions for this talk: 1. The OTSUS, or special autonomy as granted to Papua in 2000 has not been respected by the Central Government, it is unilaterally interpreted and also violated by the Jakarta Government. It must be a to;pic of discussion how the idea trule can be implemented; 2. Papua people should be united in the idea that independence is not a good ideal for this community. They also should reject the idea that some foreign power should mediate here (also the Dutch should not be seen as possible rescuers by rejection of the 1969 act of free choice as the valid basis of the incorporation of West Papua into Indonesia). 3. Papua people must learn discipline. In the March 2009 event at the occasion of the launching of the book it was clear that Papua people like hot debates, often disagree among themselves and have no clear and realistic strategy for the fulfillment of their goals.
Among the social and political leaders in modern Papua the Catholics have given quite prominent leaders. Tebay's predecessor as rector of the Fajar Timur school, Lay theologian Agus A. Alua is now chairperson of the Majlis Rakyat Papua (some kind of 'Senate' besides the provincial council of Papua; it is a body instituted under the special autonomy law for Papua).
In his fight for Papua rights, Tebay also asks for a balanced judgment about the role and place of recent migrants in Papua: 'we cannot live here without their help'. For some time Neled Tebay was also the Vicar of the bishop, LLL or Leo Laba Ladjar who has less outspoken political messages but wants to give a more pure religious viewpoint about the present sytruggle of the Papua people.

Fajar Timur as a theological was established for candidates for the priesthood and for lay people alike, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This is now seen as a measure taken out of the condition of the time. In the early 1970s there were not yet five candidates for the priesthood, now they have more than hundred (even a number of 160 was mentioned). Therefore the bishop has decided in 2008 to restrict access to the classes in Fajar Timur for candidates for priesthood only and in the boarding house of the school only diocesan candidates are accepted. This is done partly because the Vatican urges the promotion of diocesan clergy and Saint Peter's Funds only provide money for diocan clergy, while the religious order have their own houses close to Fajar Timur. There is still one female student and few male students at Fajar Timur, but lay people are now sent to the Catechetical College, that is established in another location in Abepura as STPK, Sekolah Tinggi Pendidikan Katolik, following the model of the catechical college, established in Malang by Father Paul Janssen CM
However, Neles Tebay wants to develop Fajar Timur in a more general way and hopes to open next yar besides the theological faculty an new department of antrology with culture studies as it most important object. Fajar Timur has always specialised in cultural studies, much more than other major seminaries and theological schools.

woensdag 23 september 2009

14. Papua, Land of Peace, Koteka and Papeda

This is the one of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"

Here is your reporter, sitting in a quite luxurious restaurant with a splendid view on lake Sentani, some 30 km south of the coast of Northeast West-Papua. Lake Sentani is some 20 km long and it dominates a valley (with the airport) in the mountainous northern region of Papua. The only real local element here was a neatly served porridge of sagu. We did not try it ourselves, because it looks more or less like the glue we use to work with wall paper. Together with good spices it seems to be delicious. We kept it to the view itself.

What did we see and experience in Papua? First of all it is the majestic nature, the immense distances, underpopulated land, much space, but with a difficult nature. In fact we only saw about 100 km: from Teluk Merah, a beautiful bay with a village of fishermen, the remnants of the oil harbour of the Dutch period and now the major harbour for NorthEast Papua under construction (hills destroyed because of the need to contruct a road steep uphill from the bay), then Sentani, the new town along the lake, further eastwards Abepura with the Cenderawasih University and the theological colleges of Catholics and Protestants, finally Jayapura, the seat of the government and until now the harbour.

When driving to Tanah Merah Bay, at one moment the road was b locked. We (Franciscan Friar Jan Serps as guide and driver, the Steenbrink, Simon Brussel of Justitia et Pax, The Hague, had already survived a number of quite suspicious bridges, but this one was really closed.

But in the end we could reach the romantic village. The students of the theological college sometimes come here for a picnic and experience of nature.

But this trip was only possible thanks to a strong 4 wheel Toyota (from 1991!) along quite dirt roads. What is needed fro the construction of a better road, that is ready for transport of big containers, is also the destruction of much nature, as seen below.

Most of the plans for the development are not initiated and formulated by original Papua people, but by outsiders, migrants, people from other regions of Indonesia. In Ambon it were quite often these pendatang who were accused of being the cause for the civil war and the inter-religious conflicts. In Papua it are the migrants or pendatang (now already counting for 48% of the total population of this huge area, 14 times the size of the Netherland with only a population of some 2.5 million.
There are many faction of 'native' Papuans, still proud that their parents wore the Koteka or calabash covering the penis of the mountain people of the region.

Against the strategy of not well organised and not generally supported movements for independence, the major church leaders promote a dialogue with the government in Jakarta under the label Papua, Land of Peace. We talked with an important representative of the largest Protestant Church in North Papua, Prof. Sosthenes Sumihe at the Kijne Theological School. We heard many report about the radical evangelical leader Benny Giay, visited his family and received all his new publications, but onfurtuntale could not see him, because of a trip to Lake Paniai. In another contribution we will go into some details about our conversation the the major Catholic spokesman in social and political affairs, Dr. Neles Tebay.

13. Sister Birgitta Renyaan, a smiling but stubborn ambassador for peace

This is the one of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"

Sister Brigitta (born Brigittine, Langgur 7 October 1953) Renyaan is member of the extended clan of Langgur with many prominent members in the Catholic Church. Philippus Renyaan was a teacher in the period 1942/5 who in fact took over leadership of the Kei community and proved to be a good, devoted and pious manager. During the period of the Moluccan wars Mrs Paula Renyaan was the Vice-Governor.
Brigitta was in 1999-2003 a major figure in the women movement against violence and promoting inter-religious peace. She is one of the founders of Concerned Mothers, Ibu Peduli who started from 6 August 1999 on a whole series of activities against the continuing violence, in cooperation with Rev. Agus Rehewarin (Protestant ministers, from Kei but working in Ambon), the female minister Rev. Ece Tahapari and Catholic lay leader Mr. Sembiring.
Brigitta started the practice of making small pieces of textile with the sloganhentikan kekerasan dan pertikaian (see the picture below).

The true chronology of her peace activities will be described in the full book. For this moment it may be enough that she was, with Hendriks, wife of the UKIM Rector, the only women at the Malino peace talks.

In the early 2000s Brigitta worked in Ambon also together with Unesco. Between 2005-2008 she was invited by UNESCO to work for reconciliation and religious harmony in Aceh. Since several months she is now back in Ambon, but her she has established an NGO of her own and lives in a house attached to that place. There are some rumours, that she is not the submissive sister, waiting for command from her superior as is the habit of many other sisters. In this sense she is definitely another style of religious nun.

12. Father Kees Böhm, chronicler of the civil war, but most of all, stimulator of Catholic lay leadership in the Moluccas

This is the one of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"

MSC priest Kees Böhm (born 1935, Santvoort), is in the Moluccans active since the early 1960s. He is still full in job, even characterized as a 'workaholic' by some of his colleagues. He has served at several places in the Southeastern archipelagos, but had become quite famous, internationally by his long series of vivid daily reports about the Moluccan Wars, 1999-2005, that started on 22 June 2000 and ran to 2006 (my printed edition has report no 476, 1 May 2005). He told us that he had tried to have it published with KITLV in Leiden. It was not accepted as a book for their series of Publications. The Chronicle misses the first 18 month, it has many repetitions, because of the daily observations. It has for many events only the perspective of the Christian section of Ambon, because communications between the two sides of Ambon were often not possible. But as a source it is a marvelous piece of work.

Böhm did not only write about the Moluccan War, he has written 1. A history of Catholics in Great Kei, Seratus Tahun Gereja Katolik di Kei Besar (64 pages); 2. A similar history for Tanimbar; 3. A similar history for the North Moluccas; 4. A life of Bishop Aerts (died/martured 1942); 5. An Indonesian translation of a manuscript by Bishop Andreas Sol, Sejarah Gereja Katolik di Kepulauan Aru. Böhm was so kind to put all his major manuscripts on mu USB Stick (called flash disk in Indonesia) and so I could easily print them last week in Utrecht.

The main duty of Böhm was not this writing of history or 'peace journalism' that tried to give an objective image of the dramatic situation of people living in Ambon in that period, his first duty was at that time with the central office of the pastoral institute of Ambon, where he was the general manager but also the specialist for catechism and liturgical guidance for catechists who had to perform services without priests.

Our talk with Father Böhm on the afternoon of Thursday 27 August was somewhat awkward. We had first visited the major mosques of Ambon (in fact the old mosque and the new Fatah mosque, built by Soekarno, although finished in the New Order period of Soeharto, with Prof. Saleh Putuhena. Be also brought is to Father Böhm and stayed there during the visit (therefore we all abstained from drinking, because it was between 16.00-18.00). The talk in part was about the course of events during the period 1999-2005, when Putuhena was working for Ambonese Muslim refugees in Makassar and Böhm stayed in a Christian district in Ambon. There were also more general observations about Ambon: there are no ntaural resources in this region. Moluccans are not true fishers. They will never remain longer than 12 hours on sea. Therefore the Japanese industrial boats are taking the real profit from the rich seas of the Moluccans. In 1956 there was a gift from the Russians: a faculty for construction of ship building. This faculty became the start of the Pattimure University. During the Moluccan Wars it proved that these building were so solidly built, that they did not burn down like all later buildings. But the real development in ship building came only later with Habibie in Surabaya and it was not a great success either. Rendra used to complain that Indonesia is now moving by airplane only and they have lost their maritime background. This is especially pity for the development of a province like the Moluccas where 93% of the surface is sea! The Moluccas are, like NTT, a province that will never make true profit, at least not under the present conditions.

My major interest duiring this talk was in the initiatives taken by Böhm and some of his colleagues for a Sunday service in congregations without priests. Sometime in the 1980s (or was it the 1970s, Umat Allah Beribadah or UAB was published in 1978) it was a topic at the annual meeting of the Indonesian bishops. The bishops of Java and Western Indonesia bluntly rejected the idea, because they did not recognize it as a problem. In the islands of Sumatra and Java, like in Bangka, Belitung, there is a high number of priests, relatively good transport. It is a problem for Kalimantan, the Moluccas, Flores, Papua. The first proposal, a booklet of 1985 was considered as too much a copy of a Holy Mass with a lay person performing more or less like a priest. In the newer version of 1989 (see HidupNo 38 17 September 1989; a criticism on a new edition by Yos van der Linden from Langgur) the quasi-eucharistic elements were removed. The initiative had started with three priests: Jan van der Made, Jos van der Lind and Kees Böhm, also called Malibo. Micael Coomans MSF, later bishop in Samarinda, Kalimantan, also published a Kumpulan Upacara Ibadat. In the 1970 this service was called a Kumpulan Doa, a service once a week, more or less as a surrogate for Mass.
There were, however, not only problems of church law and theology, many lay people found the texts for this priestless service too complicated. One had to look in the booklet to many different pages and finding the right reference os for simple people already very difficult.
Then there was the problem of a sermon. The three priests, MALIBO, wrote three volumes sermons for priestless services, published as Mewartai Sabda. This is a collection of sermons for all Sundays of the year. But even when a sermon was already written, it is not good to read it without good expression. Böhm trained his catechists or teachers also like theatre players, to read a sermon in a vivid and lively way.

One can here make a comparison with the Protestant church where during several centuries most congregations were served by lowly educated guru jemaat who also read sermons, written by the ministers of the capital of Ambon. Nowadays, however, all congregations like to have a fully trained and ordained minister for their own.

Father B|ohm gave me some copies Doa Bersama a schedule for priestless services. I bought during this trip also a booklet by Pater Johanes Lewar SVD, Ibadat Peringatan Arwah as lay services at funerals an later memorials.

Böhm is now nominated a the parish priest in Poka, while at the same time leading an institute for the training of catechists. In the coming years this will be extended as part of the training for priests as well (now only in Pineleng). It is difficult to give a permanent position or format to lower educated religious leaders.

dinsdag 22 september 2009

11. The MM Sisters, Maria Mediatrix

This is the one of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"
The MM Sisters are a local congregation, established by the MSC priests and PBHK sisters. Different from the brothers who could not survive, they had enough vocations.
There are some striking differences between the two congregations. The PBHK (Puteri Bunda Hati Kudus, Daughters of the Methor of the Sacred Heart) have their headquarters on the prestigious Jalan Pattimura in a solid and beautiful building. The MM sisters have a very modest centre in the outskirts of Ambon, Benteng, in a compound together with a parish church and presbitery. It looked now even more shabby because the parish church of Mary, Star of the Sea (Bintang Laut) was under reconstruction.
Sister Francesco had a colleague with her, a Toraja PBHK sister who had studied law in Yogyakarta and was nominated to become her successor in the management of the charity enterprise. THe MM sisters ran several schools, but were not so expanding in other projects. When we visited them the General Suiperior with two other sisters were in Europe, to collect money. But they asked the sisters in Ambon to pray novena after novena, because their tour was not yet successful. They speak very little English or German and have not a good record of book keeping± they do not alwats respect the intentio donoris, and spend the money they receive often for other purposes than the way the promoised to the donors. The sisters for the noviciate had to stay with five in one room with very sobre furniture. Below one of the sisters in front of their Kindergarten )they had a full series of schools from Kindergarten to Senior High School.

Biship Sol told as proudly about the 4 ha he had bought in Benteng for the Parish and the compound of the MM Sisters. One fine moment was the procession when the statue of Mary, Star of the Sea was taken from the harbous to this church± they came along the major mosque and also along the Silo Church where the brassband of the Protestant Church was playing hymns, to honour the new statue in this Catholic parish. This has happened already some time ago± before the religious strife.

maandag 21 september 2009

10. Rev. Abner Latue, Traditional Ambon Religion and Islam

This is the one of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"

Rev. Abner Latue, born in the island of Seram, is a minister of the Gereja Protestan Maluku, the Moloccan Protestant Church and the major partner of sister Francesco Moens in the establishment of the refugee village Lembah Agro, described below. He likes to elaborate on the Protestant love for Israel. According to him the name Obed is not related to Robert (in the couple Obed-Acang/Hassan, a popular TV play about the conflict) but to the grandfather of David. Old Testament names are very popular in Ambon. The David star is often used in the liturgical dress.

Notwithstanding his staunch Protestant conviction, Abner Latue is also practicing the use of a special plate of offerings, the Piring Natsar in his house. I was allowed to see it and take a picture in his bedroom, where it was placed on a table, together with Bible and hymnbook.

Latue knows that an earlier generation of missionaries held a firm stand against the piring natsar as a remnants of veneration of ancestors, but he saw it as a traditional way of praying and thanking God (the offering is given to the church after the wish is fulfilled).

In his idea of Islam, Latue is very outspoken and negative. Islam is a religion that wants to dominate the world, as is written in Genesis 16:12 about Ismael, the son of Hagar who was driven away together with his mother: He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.
In fact, the view of Francesco Moens about Muslims was not much different. They are seen as a permanent thread by Christians (who surely hope that the whole world will bow for Christ). The interreligious harmony is still a far away dream!

zondag 20 september 2009

9. Ambon: Sister Francesco Moens, extremely successful missionary entrepreneur

This is one of 18 short impressions of the trip of Karel and Pauline Steenbrink to East Indonesia in preparation for the 3d volume of the book "Catholics in Indonesia"

Since the 1920s the Catholic leaders tried to gain a foothold in Ambon (or regain if we consider that Ambon was 'Catholic territory, thanks to the activities of Saint Francis Xavier around 1546-7). A Cathedral was built and on a large piece of land along the prestigious Olifantenstraat, now Jalan Pattimura, the Daughters of the Lady of the Sacred Heart started a primary and a secondary school. After independence the Catholic bishops bought large pieces of land on the island (especially bishop Andreas Sol, 1963-1994). This was done with the idea that Ambon was the main island and the capital of the Moluccas and should have representative Catholic institutions, even though the number of original Ambonese Catholics was virtually zero. Most Catholics in Ambon originate from Kei, Tanimbar or Flores.
Although sister Francesco Moens (born 1938) was educated as a teacher, she was in the late 1960s and following decades one of the most important sisters to give a direction towards the turn away from education towards developmental work (in the large school compound of the Catholic school on the Jalan Pattimura nowadays no longer any PBHK sister is teaching).
Francesco established Rinamakana as a social foundation with many activities, from credit union to housekeeping courses and many other activities. She is a true missionary entrepeneur, keeps contacts with sponsors, is able to manage the programmes in an effective way. Her trusted cooperator over the last 35 years has been Flores (or rather Adonare) born Herman Palang Ama. In 2003 Sister Moens reached the age of 65, withdraw from the Foundation Rinamakane and Herman establied an NGO of his own, Moonsunray (Moon and Sun or Lerewulan is a classical expression for God in Flores).
Since 2003 Sister Francesco started a village in Passo, together with the Protestant minister Rev. Abner Latue. The houses were built at the cost of € 600. Most of the money was collected in the Netherlands and on all houses the name of the sponsor has been mentioned. Vila Lion is a house financed by some Lions Club. Some have the names of villages in the Netherlands like Varssum, Nieuwegein. There are now some 300 houses in the compound, called Lembah Agro, Valley of Agriculture (because the land was owned by an agricultural school).
There is a small section of some 30 houses for Catholics, but the vast majority is for the Protestant refugees from Buru. Initially they were migrant farmers from Java and because they were Christian they had to flee during the 1999-2003 war. Muslim migrants from Java could remain on Buru. Building started in 2002 and refugees were invited from Halong, the basis of the marine that gave place to so many refugees.
On 17 June 2002 also the first results were welcomed for the four water wells (one is called after bishop Sol who provided the finances; two are paid for by the sisters, one by the local government).The governor of the Moluccas paid already four times a visit to the compound.

Above: the house dedicated to a Lion Club chapter and then the 'village chief' or in his own words 'the commander', rev. Latue in 'his village'.

Lembah Agro is not the only field of work for sister Francesco. We visited that morning not less than eight locations where she is working. Second was the NGO Moonsurnray of Herman Palang Ama. Third was a Muslim village, high up in the mountains uphill from the Muslim district Batu Merah. Not far from that refugee settlement for Muslims there is Pemukiman Andreas (named after Bishop Andreas Sol), some 100 houses for refugees and migrants from Kei and Tanimbar. There is no 'commander' as in the overwhelming Protestant Lembah Agro, but here in uphill Ahuru (where bishop Sol could buy a very large plot of land, for an orphanage, the noviciate of the sisters, for a place of pilgrimage with the staions of the cross, steep climbing to the top) there was extra land available for hits 'Andreas settlement'. Initially a Tanimbar priest was living here, but now there is no clear leader. It looked quite dirty (no regular management of garbage). 'People of Kei and Tanimbar expect that someway a priest will manage this for them, while the Javanese migrants who came from Buru show more dsicipline..'
We only gave a short look at the renovated stations of the cross, an initiative by the clergy of the cathedral church.
More attention was given to the former noviciate of the PBHK in Lahuru. In 2000 it was destroyed and before this happened the noviciate was already moved to Yogyakarta. Quite recently the buildings were renovated thanks to a government programme for rebuilding Ambon BRR, Bantuan Rehabilitasi dan Rekonstruksi the building looked perfect now. The sisters had not taken a close look at this reconstruction, had not paid for water and electricity and therefore it could not yet be used as a juniorate (some kind of preparation for the proper noviciate). The statue of the Pieta, badly damaged during the civil war, was still in its bad condition.

Finally we visited the orphanage, also destroyed and renovated with BRR money. Francesco complained that instead of true wood, the builder had used asbestos in the ceilings. She got really angry when she saw a sister cleaning rice from thousands of small beasts. The inspected the premises and found a large supply of rice and suggested that this contaminated rice should be given as food for pigs and the better rice instead used for the orphans. It was not her business and the modest sister who was doing this job in the full sun, continued her humble work. She wanted to expose the rice to the sun and the small beasts would die by the rays of the sun or at least disappear from the rice.

There are also dark sides of a figure full of energy and initiatives. Francesco complained several times about Indonesian sisters, especially superiors who hesitated to make decisions and in this way hampered her work. She was several times accused of doing things before official permission from her superiors was given. She even told some stories about true opposition within the religious order. Someone had used black magic against her cooperator Herman who had a piece of wood in his intestines by this method and had it removed in a hospital in Java. He had received advice from a Dutch-Indonesian Jesuit in Java, who had countered the black magic and gave him the advice for the operation. There is strong drive towards charity and social welfare among the sisters, but the realization sometimes may be difficult.