“Our local Church today is a missionary Church. We have over 500 priests and religious sent as missionaries to Indonesia and the world. We are a Church blessed by the Lord with many vocations to priestly and consecrated life. But the cradle of these vocations is the family: our Catholic families live faith with devotion and profoundness, they approach the Sacraments, they practice charity. This is the environment where the seed of God’s call can sprout.” This is what the Bishop Ewaldus Martinus Sedu of Maumere said to Fides News Agency, recounting the life of the local Catholic community in the diocese situated on the Indonesian island of Flores.
The island, at the center of the archipelago, in the province of Eastern Nusa Tenggara, is considered “the Catholic heart of Indonesia” because, in the predominantly Muslim nation (out of 265 million inhabitants, 85% are Muslims), it constitutes the area where many of the Indonesian faithful are concentrated. The Bishop leads a diocesan community that counts over 87% of the Catholic population (300 thousand faithful out of a total of 340 thousand inhabitants of the territory) and says to Fides: “In our community there are numerous male and female religious congregations: Verbites, Passionists, Jesuits, Franciscans, Camillians, Somascans, Rogationists, Vocationists, and many others. The community is alive and dynamic and vocations to consecrated life are flourishing. In Maumere we have one of the Catholic Seminaries (which is also a formation institute of philosophy and theology) among the largest in the world, with over a thousand students. We are engaged in the work of education, in social work, but the most important thing is the testimony of the Gospel in the family. Everything comes from there”.
The Indonesian Church today constitutes about 3% of the population: in the archipelago of 17 thousand islands, today it includes about 8 million Catholics, divided into 37 dioceses. Moreover, Christians of other denominations are about 6% of the population.