ASIA/INDONESIA - The proclamation of Easter to the indigenous peoples of Indonesian Papua

Friday, 14 April 2023 development   indigenous   evangelization  

Jayapura (Agenzia Fides) - The proclamation of the Resurrection reached the indigenous peoples of Indonesian Papua (also called Irian Jaya) who celebrated the Passion of Christ and Easter thanks to the presence of a missionary priest, Father Ferry Sutrisna Widjaja, who came from the Diocese of Bandung (in West Java province). On the remote highlands of Wamena, in Jayawijaya regency, part of Indonesian Papua, hundreds of indigenous people participated with devotion in the re-enactment of Christ's Stations of the Cross, with the ascent to Golgotha and crucifixion.
Last February the missionary had met Msgr. Yanuarius Theofilus Matopai You, the first Papuan native to be elected Bishop, in the city of Jayapura, expressing his strong passion to evangelize and do good to the communities of local indigenous people. During his priestly demonstrating his strong passion formation in Bandung, the priest met many Papuan native seminarians and from those meetings arose the desire to go on a mission to their remote, inaccessible and isolated lands. "The drive is a feeling of care and compassion, wanting to be with them and share the Gospel of Christ", says to Fides, Fr. Widjaja, a priest of Chinese origins.
So the missionary planned the trip to the Wamena Highlands during Holy Week and Easter time, and celebrated the Triduum with the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil. "I felt a call to share the gift of faith, hope and salvation given by Christ with these populations, simple people who live in harmony with nature, to get to know them better and be close to them", he says. Speaking about the Hepuba parish church, based in Wamena, he notes, "The Easter celebrations were moving. There is deep faith, but also so much need to improve their living conditions. All Indonesian Catholics should show their solidarity with these native Papuans who are in need of development." Their desire is for "a peaceful life in society, without violence, so that they can live happily in their territory," the priest says, noting also the need to accompany these communities on a social, economic, cultural and civil awareness level. For this, one of the key elements is education: after meeting with several Papuan priests, the missionary visited the primary school in the remote area of Wamena (where children from different villages converge) noting that "it is in dire need of help, in terms of human and financial resources." The Christian proclamation, he notes, carries with it a work of support for dignity, peace, and prosperity of these local populations, to which the missionary will continue to strive. (PA-MH) (Agenzia Fides, 14/4/2023)