BROTHER GIACOMO BINI, OFM
THE CHURCH OF SAINT PASCHAL, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1999
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
First of all, on behalf of the Secular Franciscan Order in Indonesia in general and the SFO of the Saint Louis IX Fraternity in Jakarta in particular, let me offer our brothers Giacomo Bini and Xavier Yu a warmest fraternal welcome.
Welcome to Indonesia, our dear brothers. You come to visit us at the right time, a time when we as a nation has just started a new era, an era of hope for each and everyone of us Indonesians, an era of reconciliation and healing of so many wounds and sicknesses suffered by the Indonesian people. Now is indeed a good time for you to see the real face of our beloved nation. Perhaps it is also a good time to see the position of the Church amidst all the problems being faced by her.
I remember that during my childhood days (in the late nineteen forties and early fifties) our family home was occasionally visited by some Dutchmen who said they were members of the “Third Order of Saint Francis” (in Dutch it is called ‘Derde Orde’). Personal experience of Brother Urbanus Kopong which has been told to us and our own Fraternity’s experience lately indicate, that the old Third Order had local Indonesian members also and, that these tertiaries had been in existence even since before the second World War. Due to some unclear reasons, however, these tertiaries – as a group or movement – have disappeared, at least from the surface of the daily lives.
In April 1983, encouraged strongly by the late Brother Cletus Groenen and the Poor Clares, Brother Yan Ladju started pioneering regular monthly group meetings at the Poor Clares’ convent in Yogyakarta. The meetings were started with three pairs of husbands and wives, two girl-students of Sanata Dharma Catholic University as well as three close friends of Sister Ancilla. This group kept growing, and more and more lay members of the local Church in Yogyakarta became closer and closer to our Seraphic Father, Saint Francis. The way of life and spirit of Saint Francis had apparently become ‘an affirmative option’ with strong appeal in living a Christian life, especially for those who longed for values of simplicity, values of brotherhood and sincere joy. Support from the friars minor (OFM) in Jakarta also helped the growth of Yogyakarta’s Saint Elizabeth Fraternity to spread into the surrounding areas such as Pakem, Wates, Bantul, even into Solo and nearby Karanganyar.
The news about Yogyakarta Fraternity eventually reached Semarang, the capital city of Middle Java. By that time, the late Justinus Cardinal Darmojuwono was the pastor at the church of Saint Mary of Fatima which was located at the outskirt of Semarang, a place called Banyumanik. Based on his encouragement, the Saint Francis Fraternity was born on June 30, 1985. Enthusiasm of the parish members as well as supports from Sister Inigo OSF and Provincial of the Aloysian Brothers were also responsible to the rather rapid growth of the Fraternity.
On May 20, 1991 the members of Yogyakarta Fraternity originated from Solo and Karanganyar, encouraged by the OSF sisters asked to form their own fraternity, independently, in Solo. Since then, a ‘lay Franciscan golden triangle’ was formed in the Semarang Archdiocese: Yogyakarta – Solo – Semarang.
Meanwhile, far from the Island of Java, in 1985 two Capuchin friars, Polycarp Geiger and Natanael pioneered the establishment of a fraternity in Sibolga, North Sumatera. From this place the Fraternity spread its wings to Pematang Siantar, Gunung Sitoli in the Island of Nias, Sipea-pea, Padang Sidempuan and some other places in North Sumatera. Worthnoting are the active roles played by Capuchin Friars Ben Brevoort and Markus Looman in supporting the growth of the fraternities in North Sumatera.
In the capital city of Jakarta, a small group of friends of Saint Francis started to gather together in the late 1987. In 1988 they formed the Saint Louis IX Fraternity. At present this Fraternity is the largest in Indonesia with 80 members, of which 45 are professed members.
In 1989, encouraged by Brothers Theo Vergeer and Alo Murwito, a new Fraternity was born in Jayapura, West Papua. This Fraternity covers the areas of Abepura as well as Sentani.
On February 21, 1992, at Pagal in the Island of Flores, the Saint Louis Fraternity was born. This is one of the fastest growing fraternities we have. Although the Fraternity currently has only 7 professed members, at the moment there are 22 postulants and 23 novices in its list of membership.
For the first time in its history, the Secular Franciscans in Indonesia met at a national level in June 1993. At the meeting, a National Council of the SFO in Indonesia was formed.
At present, the SFO in Indonesia organized itself into 5 regions (regional fraternities), they are:
· Regio Irian (West Papua), consisting of 3 local fraternities with 26 professed members, 3 novices and 4 postulants.
· Regio NTT (East Nusatenggara), consisting of 7 local fraternities with 24 professed members, 57 novices and 22 postulants.
· Regio Jawa, consisting of 7 local fraternities with 129 professed members, 57 novices and 22 postulants.
· Regio Sumatera, consisting of 6 local fraternities with 31 professed members, 43 novices and 31 postulants.
· Regio Kalimantan (Borneo), consisting of 1 local fraternity with 14 novices and 12 postulants.
So, in total there are 24 local fraternities, with 210 professed members, 184 novices and 115 postulants all over the country (Grand total 509 members, not counting the aspirants which now number around 100 persons).
Last but not least is the Franciscan Youth. One group started last year in Jakarta with around 20 active members, and another group in Yogyakarta.
The SFO members in Indonesia vary from place to place, they even vary in each and every fraternity. We have blue collar workers as well as white collar workers; we have factory workers as well as peasants and farmers. We have people working as government employees as well as people working in the private sectors. We have housewives and widows as well as women and men committed to life of celebacy. We have medical doctors as well as nurses. We have hospital pastoral-care workers as well as social workers taking care of the street boys and volunteers attending the blind people. We have entrepreneurs as well as security guards. We have university lecturers and ex lecturers, teahers and ex teachers. People high and low in social status, but all are ‘poor in spirit’ as exemplified by our Father Francis and, all are brother and sisters in Jesus and Saint Francis. Practically all of the members involve themselves heavily in the various Church mission and apostolic activities.
If at this very moment another Brother Masseo comes here to ask us “Why are we – the seculars or men and women of the world – are running after Saint Francis, despite the fact that he was not a handsome guy, he was not even a man of great learning or wisdom, nor a nobleman?”, we can only answer his questions as follows:
1. Because we are deeply convinced that this little poor man of Assisi, even now, still has a crucial message for all of us; poor or rich, the marginalized or the privileged few of the affluent societies. We firmly believe that the values and spirituality of Saint Francis contain a great lesson for our contemporary societies as well as the ones in the next millenium. The message of Saint Francis does not condemn us, sinners; rather, it invites us to walk a similar journey as his – a pathway which moves toward the New Creation.
2. Because Saint Francis has changed our image of God. He is still inviting people to think and experience God a a generous and loving Creator.
3. Because Saint Francis has changed how we see ourselves. He emphasized the virtue of humility, being honest about who we are before God and in relation to one another.
4. Because Saint Francis has changed how we see the world. His “Canticle of the Creatures” is recognized by many Christians and non-Christians as a charter for a respectful use of the world God has entrusted to us all.
5. Because Saint Francis has influenced other Christians. Many Orthodox and Protestant Christians regard Saint Francis as one of their own. He is certainly still playing a very important role in any ecumenical effort or any effort to promote Christian unity.
6. Because Saint Francis inspires our brothers and sisters of other faiths. It is not only Catholic or other Christians who regard Saint Francis as a holy man. The issues of peace, ecology, religious freedom and respect for the individual person form a strong bond between Saint Francis and many members of the world’s great religions. Worthnoting is the fact – if I am not mistaken – that our present President Gus Dur (K.H. Abdulrahman Wahid) went to Assisi in 1996 to attend the 10th anniversary of the “Prayer Day for World Peace”.
7. Because Saint Francis bridges the past and the future. In in his apotolic letter< “On the Coming of the Third Millennium” or “Tertio Millenio Adveniente”, Pope John Paul II writes that the joy of every Jubilee “is based upon the forgiveness of sins, the joy of conversion” (# 32). The Pope goes on to identify as needing repentance the sins “which have been detrimental to the unity willed by God for his People”. In this regard Saint Francis was such a perfect example for his followers of his day and can be again for us.
8. Finally, because we identify Saint Francis as someone who allowed God’s grace to bear fruit in his own life, as someone who became a “living Gospel” for men and women of this time, as someone who can help us become more authentic followers of Jesus, the Word-made-flesh, and who can help us to recognize one another as brothers and sisters, all created in God’s image.
Dear Brother Giacomo,
Do not forget to include us in you daily prayers. We pray that the Holy Spirit will always guide you in ministering the Order.
By this, I end my report. Peace and all Good to you. Pace e Bene! Thank you.
Brother Frans Indrapradja, SFO
Minister of the Saint Louis IX SFO Fraternity, Jakarta
 Abepura, Sentani and Jayapura.
 Pagal, Karot, Mataloko, Konggang, Soa, Bajawa and Cancar.
 Yogyakarta, Semarang, Solo, Jakarta and surrounding areas (including Cibinong), Cianjur, Bogor and Muntilan.
 Pematang Siantar, Gunung Sitoli, Mela, Padang Sidempuan, Sipea-pea and Tumbajae.