Originally from the U.S. Province, Fr. Tom Fix, SCJ, has been a missionary in Asia for most of his priesthood. Now a member of the Indonesian Province, he often works for extended periods of time with the formation program in India. He wrote the following from Jakarta:
I have been back in Indonesia now for three weeks, during which time I took six days to visit Palembang. They still have a room with my shingle on it at St. Paul’s Minor Seminary — with air conditioning — so that’s where I stayed, starting May 2.
The day after I got to St. Paul’s there was a Mass for all the teachers and other employees serving in our numerous Catholic schools in Palembang. Some 800 people were in attendance. This was a bit of a nostalgia trip for me since I had held various positions as a teacher, a moderator, even as rector, within the archdiocese. Besides Archbishop Sudarso’s fine homily, there were other speeches given after the Mass, one of which, given by Fr. Frido, SCJ, head of Catholic schools, reminded the teachers to maintain our Catholic identity by opening and closing classes with prayer, which applies in all levels from kindergarten up through high school. And college! We have a budding school of higher education called MUSI that recently got the government go-ahead to be listed as a university. Fr. John Samiran, SCJ, is the new rector. Affiliated with MUSI is a nursing school run by the Franciscan Sisters of Charity, who also run two hospitals in Palembang.
So right away I got to touch base with old friends and co-workers. In the evening there was the monthly recollection for all the clergy in town. This continued into the next morning at a local retreat house. Fr. Agus Setyoaji, SCJ, gave the conference, titled “The Priest and the Eucharistic Liturgy.” Fr. Agus has a master’s degree in liturgy, which he got in Manila a few years ago.
On another afternoon I decided to get some exercise and so walked to several shops in the heart of the shopping area, where I hoped to pick up a few birthday cards. It took me three stops to find a place, which just goes to show that people tend to create their own cards on the computer these days, or just send a greeting by e-mail. What we old timers grew used to isn’t so available anymore.
The one-hour flight back to Jakarta was without a hitch until I began waiting for the carousel to deliver my checked baggage. This was around noon on Friday. We waited an hour! It was prayer time in all the mosques and apparently the devout personnel who hoist baggage felt their priority was to do devotions! But my bag arrived safely anyway, which is the main thing.
The good people who came to meet me had me out to lunch before delivering me to a kind of temporary assignment — helping out in one of our three SCJ parishes — the one called “Apostle Barnabas,” located in the county of Pamulang and the township of “Pondok Cabe” which, translated, means “chili pepper cottages.” The church complex is located only a hundred yards from a busy intersection called “Simpang Gaplek,” which translated means “dried tapioca root junction.” Fr. Puryanto, SCJ, is pastor here, with Fr. Jozef Kurkowski, SCJ, as his only assistant since Fr. Suryadi, SCJ, the other assistant, recently left for year-long studies in Rome. They have a beautiful setup here. There is a new church that was dedicated only last November, with a capacity of 1,500 people. The parish membership goes to more than 2,000 families. All the motorbikes are parked in the basement, while cars can park in a lot that must be half the size of a football field.
My schedule is open until mid-June, when I intend to apply for my next visa to India.. Before then I hope to visit our novitiate in Gisting and our scholasticate in Yogya.