Fr Alejandro Moral gives us a first-hand account of the echoes, impressions and insights gained from his last visit to Indonesia
Today, Monday 16th January 2023, I am in Manokwari, together with Fr. Anthony Banks (OSA Assistant for the Asia-Pacific Region) and Fr. Peter Jones (Prior Provincial of Australia), waiting for the arrival of the Bishop, Hilarius, to celebrate the Mass of thanksgiving for the 70 years of presence of the Order in these Indonesian lands. It is a warm day, notwithstanding the rain this morning and the fact that it is now already 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
It is noticeable that we all want to celebrate the gift of the Augustinian presence here. It is a day of great celebration. Those brothers of the Vicariate who were able to come are here. The young people and the ladies enthusiastically and lovingly prepare the food for after Mass. There are many children who look at us and smile, and send us a greeting of welcome and friendship.
We thank God for this presence of the Order of St. Augustine which for 70 years has transmitted and shared its charism with the people of this complex and diverse country. Today we know it better and we notice this difference more because we are present in more places, on islands that are very different from one another. But it is in this very diversity that communion among brothers and sisters and unity as the core of our Augustinian charism can be best shown.
Without the grace of God, as St. Augustine says, nothing is possible, but with it nothing is impossible. And so, over these years, 22 friars of the Province of Holland have passed through here, and have given their lives as a gift. In all the missions, the people who decide to go to the different places, give themselves so generously, as a matter of course, that they do not hide or keep anything for themselves. The same has been done by our Dutch brothers and sisters in these hot places near the Equator. These 22 Dutch Augustinians (now only Fr. Trump remains here) were accompanied for a time by three Spanish missionaries and two from the Province of Cebu.
Today the Vicariate has more than 30 formands in simple and solemn vows studying theology, 3 deacons and 3 in the year of pastoral ministry. About 40 confreres have completed the whole period of formation, most of them now priests. There are also 4 novices and a large number of postulants and aspirants.
I would like to thank all the missionaries who have given their lives in these lands, and in particular to the Province of Holland which, following the voice of the Spirit, had the courage and the strength to embark on this adventure. This Province, which was present in different places to proclaim the Gospel, was always very generous. We ask Jesus, the Son of God, to accompany them, and that even though they are now few in number and of a certain age, he may help them to live the joy of this generosity which is only obtained when one gives one's life completely to God. Thanks also to the former Province of the Most Holy Name of the Philippines, which accompanied these three brothers, and to the Province of Cebu.
Today I ask you all to pray for our brothers who proclaim the Kingdom of God in the schools and in the churches and parishes of the Vicariate. We certainly need the strength that comes from the Holy Spirit. I also ask for a prayer for respect for the people of this great country, which today is the fourth largest population in the world, and for their rights. That all violence may disappear and that people may know how to live as brothers and sisters.
A fraternal embrace from Manokwari, Papua.