In the Mission Seminary in Ledalero, there is still a constant number of vocations to the Society of Divine Word (SVD). This means that there are over 300 seminarians in our seminary. A dozen of prefects accompany them, and I am also included in this group. Our seminarians live in the so-called „Units” with two formators each. Usually, after a minor seminary (or a yearly postulate), the candidates choose a place for the novitiate. One can choose between Timor and the novitiate in Nenuk (near the border with East Timor) or Flores and the novitiate in Kuwu (near Ruteng in Manggarai).
Every year there are many candidates who have to pass the tests and prepare the necessary documents. After a two-year novitiate, the seminary in Ledalero receives about 100 new students who begin four-year studies in the field of philosophy. Then they are sent for internships or OTP (Overseas Training Program). Afterward, they return to the seminary for their perpetual novitiate and then begin their theological studies, which they accomplish with the defense of their MA in theology. Every year, about 20 percent of the seminarians who have entered into formation take perpetual vows. For example this year, 20 deacons were ordained. Then they are sent for internships in Indonesia or OTP. After completing these apprenticeships, they return to the seminary for their perpetual novitiate and then begin their theological studies, which end with the defense of their MA in theology.
Interestingly, the number of vocations in the easter part of Indonesia continues to increase every year (NTT region includes islands such as Flores, Timor, Sumba, Lembata, Adonara). Although the families are no longer as big as before, parents often gladly send their firstborn son for education and formation in seminaries. Young boys are inspired by the example of missionaries and also want to follow Christ. Although nowadays most of the minor seminaries belong to the diocese and the formators are diocesan priests, this does not prevent male youth from choosing SVD. Perhaps one of the more important reasons is also the history of the Church in Flores, which belongs to the Society of Divine Word. All parishes and diocesan structures, as well as many schools, were built by SVD missionaries.
Unfortunately, as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, most women's congregations this year did not accept aspirants to their religious orders. Similarly, there are also many female vocations in this part of Indonesia, ie in Flores, Timor, and the nearby islands. Until now, in some religious houses neither the holy Eucharist is celebrated, nor the sacrament of confession. Nonetheless, God's grace is not limited by the threat of the virus. The grace of vocations is flourishing in the hearts of young people, regardless of disturbing information from the mass media. Seminarians and young nuns want to continue Christ's mission on earth, get theological education, and serve the Church. There is no doubt, that the Lord Jesus blesses the young Church in Indonesia. Although the eastern part of the country is one of the poorest regions, dozens or even hundreds of new religious houses thrive here like mushrooms after rain. It is impossible to recognize all the faces and remember all the names of young people who enter the consecrated life. The young missionary from Poland is very surprised and encouraged by the vitality of the Church in Flores.
Prayers of SVD
May the darkness of sin
and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word
and the Spirit of grace
and may the Heart of Jesus live
in the hearts of all people.
(Saint Arnold Janssen)