By Mathias Hariyadi

Novices took their vows in a service led by Archbishop Card Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta. The prelate urged them to proclaim the Gospel like boat that sails and floats to remote areas. Founded in the Netherlands, the congregation is now headquartered in Indonesia. This reversal has been marked by the arrival of Indonesian Sisters in the Netherlands to breathe new life into the mission.

JAKARTA (AsiaNews) – The Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus Maria Joseph (SJMJ) celebrated 125 years of missionary activity in Indonesia with nine novices taking their vows at a Mass led by Archbishop Card Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta.

This month in fact marks the 125th anniversary of their presence in the Southeast Asian country, providing an opportunity to remember their works and service with a simple celebration at St. Ignatius of Loyola parish, in central Jakarta.

Fr Johnny Luntungan and Fr Setya Gunawan concelebrated the Eucharistic service for the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, giving the ring and cross to each novice.

The congregation, whose members first arrived in the Netherlands in 1898, is currently present in three Indonesian provinces (Makassar, Manado and Jakarta) with its general house in Wates, Yogyakarta Special Region (Central Java).

In his homily, Card Suharyo paid homage to the Sisters’ missionary spirit and vocation, which drive them to spread the word of God and bring the Gospel to the remotest corners of the country.

“Sailing to the Mission to proclaim the God’s Mercy” is the theme chosen for to mark 125 years of mission, the prelate noted. To this end, “Let your ship sail and still float to any remote area where you are called to proclaim the merciful love of God,” he said.

The congregation has more than 300 members in the three provinces, a significant number that makes the SJMJ the largest and most influential in the country, thanks to the many works in social outreach, pastoral care, healthcare, and education.

Two of the latest initiatives are a Bukit Doa (prayer hill) and a vocational course for women on Lembata Island, East Nusa Tenggara province.

Speaking at the event, Superior General Sister Theresia Supiyati said that out of 400 young nuns who wanted to become missionaries in Indonesia, only six were chosen.

Today, it is the Indonesian Sisters who go on mission to the Netherlands, where the congregation was founded since vocations in the European country have dropped sharply and there are only 33 nuns left, but just 12 nuns still physically active even if with lots of physical challenges.

For this reason, the SJMJ headquarters were transferred to Indonesia and the congregation adopted a new perspective.

In April of this year,  two Indonesian SJMJ Sisters were sent to the Netherlands to breathe new life in the mission in the country where the Indonesia mission was first born 125 years ago. – AsiaNews