Recently four books were published about Franciscan Friars in Indonesia.
The first published was Eddy Kristiyanto, Khresna mencari raga. Mengenang Kehadiran Fransiskan (di) Indonesia (Yogyakarta: Lamalera, 2009. The 756 pages of the book present 70 documents in Indonesian, but also Latin, Dutch or English (part 3). A first part discusses the older history intil 1929. The central second part is about Franciscan Friars between 1929-2009 (but not the Capuchin Friars, nor the many sisters with a Franciscan spirituality. Because the Saint Michael Custody does not include the great Papua section, only short references to that history are made (some stories about Leo Laba Ladjar, now bishop of Jayapura). This quite loosely written book with nice anecdotes, much institutional history, concentrates on the internal history of the Franciscans. The title can be read as: the divine Krishna seeks a concrete body. In Sndanese (and Javanese) popular stories the great text of Mahabharata is retold and here Krishna is a vir dei, a 'man of God' like Sant Francis (introduction:liv-lvi).
While reading in this book a see Romo Eddy as a joyful, selfconfident, and well educated successor to Saint Francis, able to speak to the academic world and to common people as well.
In this period I received through the kind help of Bishop Jan de Kok, the Dutch text of the history of the Javanese Franciscans by Anton Baan. It was written in Dutch as Nederlandse Minderbroeders in Indonesië, 1929-1983 in 1998 and was translated into Indonesian in 2004. Kristiyanto quotes Baan only 13 times (against Steenbrink's Orang-orasng Katolik di indonesia 10 times, while the last book only presents the history until 1942. He has the much looser style. A nice word is on page 165: kaplingisasi as a criticism of dividing the Indonesian territory into districts for different religious orders.
The third book is by Jan Sloot, Hoe God verscheen in Papoea. Nederlandse franciscanen in Papoea, 1937-1987 (Nijmegen:Valkhof Pers, 2010, 416). It was presented in a festive meeting in Alverna, close to Nijmegen, on 29 April 2010. Jan Sloot was three decades (1954 tot 1985) a member of the Franciscan order, worked between 1961-7 in Japan. He was asked to write this book. After thorough research in the very rich archives and a trip to the region with its great contrasts (coast, Paniai Lakes, Balim Valley, southern region of Agats). It has to be regretted that the book (like all publications discussed here) do not present the last decades: it halts in the 1980s.
The last book is by Frans Lieshout, born in 1935 and since 1964 a missionary in Indonesian Papua. His book about the small but quite densely populated Balim Valley is written for the local population: with many small details of villages, families, extended versions of local myths, quite a few words in Balim language like honai for a recemonial place, kain for a chief. There is a long story about teacher Agustinus Kabes (from Fak-Fak), killed by someone from Balim and now seen as the first martyr of the mission (131-150).
While reading this local history I wonder how much I still have to read before I will start writing a much more distant and shorter history of this part of Catholics in Indonesia, 1945-2010?