On Sunday, I was invited to the parish of Saint. Alfonso Rodriguez, founded 50 years ago and led by the Divine Word Missionaries. At the Eucharist there were many parishioners mainly young people with children, youth, altar girls and boys. Everyone was deeply involved in the prayers and chants of the parish choirs.
The community is united and integrated because Christians are a minority here. They had to work hard to build a church in one of the poorest districts of the capital city, Jakarta. The priest who was a builder of this church still lives on the parish. Although he is weak and sick, parishioners love him very much and do not let him leave. The confreres introduced me to the parishioners, who with a smile on their face received a few sentences directed to them in Indonesian.
"Selamat malam. (Applause) Salam dari Polandia. Saya Bisa Bicara Bahasa Indonesia Sedikit Sedikit Saja. Tolong Berdoa Untuk Saya Dan Saya Akan Berdoa Untuk Kalian. Senang Bermuda Dengan Kalian. Terima Kasih." In free translation it would be: "Good evening, I greet you from Poland. I speak Indonesian only a little bit. Please, pray for me and I will pray for you. Nice to meet you. Thank you very much." These few sentences made great joy among the parishioners. After the Eucharist, I was asked to take a picture with them. I was really touched by their cordiality and openness to a man from a foreign culture.
After the third Mass, all the priests were invited by the faithful for a meal to the street bar, which is run by a young Catholic couple. We were served pasta with various toppings, plus pieces of fish. On the crowded street people are full of life and joy. They are happy that they live, eat together and make jokes despite everyday problems. A young mother who kept her five-month-old son in her arms when I came, asked me for a priestly blessing.
In the afternoon I returned SVD house very tired but at the same time happy because I could meet new friends who often repeated: "Selamat datang ke Indonesia" (Safe stay in Indonesia). Among those simple but faithful people, I experienced God's closeness and care. Hopefully I look forward to the blessing of missionary service on the island of 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)