More than 150 diocesan priests and bishops from 37 dioceses from across Indonesia recently came together in south Sumatra to discuss how best to establish a close bond with their flock in their pastoral ministry after the heart of Pope Francis. The community of diocesan priests of, known as Unio Indonesia, held the 12th edition of their association in the Archdiocese of Palembang, 2 to 7 May 2017, on the theme, ‘Priests smell like sheep", a catch-phrase of Pope Francis.
The meeting stressed on the need for priests to maintain a strong bond with their flock in performing their pastoral work. Hence, forum participants were sent out to seven parishes in Palembang to bring evangelical joy to parishioners and experience the daily life in 103 Catholic families.
"Priests are required to present God’s blessing, as well as reinforce and support people's morals vis-à-vis the challenges and obstacles of their daily life,” Archbishop Aloysius Sudarso of Palembang said. “Priests have a duty to offer moral assistance, not only to our common friends, Catholics, but also to ordinary citizens, Indonesians," he told AsiaNews.
Bishops Petrus Mandagi of Amboina and Antonius Subianto Bunjamin of Bandung focused their remarks on the future challenges facing diocesan priests in Indonesia. One of the suggestions reached at the end of the meeting stressed the urgent need for continuing education of priests. This is often overlooked in Indonesia since people often believe that once ordained, a priest has already completed his formation.
Public officials also attended the Unio Indonesia forum. South Sumatra deputy governor opened the meeting, whilst provincial authorities sponsored the event, hosting a courtesy dinner for all the participants.
Fr Paulus Siswantoko of Purwokerto diocese, Central Java, was elected Unio Indonesia’s new president for 2017-2020 period. Fr. Siswantoko, who is executive secretary of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral Care of Migrants of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI), succeeds Fr Siprianus Hormat of Ruteng diocese, Flores. The meeting ended with Masses in many parishes of Palembang.
Established in 1983 in Jakarta Unio Indonesia has more than 2310 diocesan priests and bishops as members from the country’s 37 dioceses. The forum has been running refresher activities and programmes for members, as well as fostering their spiritual, mental and intellectual welfare oriented to a more effective ministry. (Source: AsiaNews)