For Indonesian bishops, continuing education for newly ordained priests in the diocese of Sumatra has been a very sensitive issue for a long period of time.
In deal with it, the regional association of diocesan priests (Unio)
promoted a series of meetings for priests from the diocese at the
Jericho Retreat House in Sibolangit, northern Sumatra province.
bishops approved the continuing education programme in 2010.
"For seven years the plan has been carried out with different
participants,” said Fr Sutapa, a former educator at the St Peter major
seminary in Pematang Siantar, with “priests from Palembang with less
than five years of service, priests from Tanjungkarang with less than
ten years, and priests from Padang with more than ten years."
Sumatra, Indonesia’s second largest island, is divided into six
dioceses: Palembang, Padang, Tanjungkarang, Pangkalpinang, Medan, and
Sibolga. Scores of diocesan and religious priests perform pastoral
outreach for thousands of Catholic migrants living on the island.
Mgr Anicetus B Sinaga, archbishop of Medan, headed the programme
along with Fr Alex Suwandi Pr, a senior priest in the Diocese of Padang.
"Priests,” said Fr Suwandi, “are called to renew their spiritual life based on the endless spirit of 'metanoia'."
The programme is divided in at least four parts, Fr Suwandi added.
The first is that priests must be supported to follow Christ as prophet,
priest and pastor in society. The second is that every priest should
act in a "consecrated" way. The third is support for human development.
The fourth includes broadening one’s vision as a human being in society.
For Mgr Anicetus B. Sinaga, diocesan priests are required to
establish a good relationship with Christ, with the Church, its
hierarchy and their colleagues. "Priests should live their life as
'consecrated' men and present themselves as such to the Catholic
community and secular society."