2014 Infant Jesus Mission Trip to Batu Indonesia
By Fr. Anastasio Roggero OCD
Rector of the Church of Our Lady Victorious
Home of the Original Infant Jesus Shrine in Prague
Dear Society of the Infant Jesus (Singapore):
Greetings from Prague, with wishes for the best of health and peace! Many thanks for loving the Infant Jesus and His mission, which is also committed to spreading devotion to the Child Jesus. We have given gifts of the statue of the Little King to Pakistan, Iraq and other countries and recently to Indonesia. I accepted an invitation to go there, to take part in a solemn ceremony held on 7th September this month in Batu (on the island of Java in Indonesia). The Bishop there wanted to invoke the blessing of the Child Jesus upon his Diocese of Malang. I went to Batu to encourage the few devotes living there. I invite you to follow me as I recount my voyage.
I left the Prague monastery at 4.30 p.m. on the 4th September direct to Batu on the island of Java in Indonesia. I was accompanied by Maurizio Di Schino and Danilo Proietti, journalists from TV 2000. The plane journey made one stop at Kuala Lumpur. We had to disembark from the plane and to wait in the airport for the connection and so I had the opportunity of treading on Malaysian soil from where come many who visit our church.
At Jakarta waiting for us was Mr Gunter from the Indonesian embassy at Prague, who had arrived earlier with the statue of the Child Jesus. We flew together to Surabaya where, at the airport, a group of friends were waiting for us and especially for the Little King. There was a festive atmosphere. One lady in the group had obtained grace for her daughter who was affected by Leukaemia. We continued on our way, our goal being the Carmel of Batù, 100 km away, which we reached at midnight on 5th September.
Batù is a small town situated 800 metres above sea level, at the foot of Mount Panderman. It has 50,000 inhabitants, the majority of whom are Shiite Muslims, 4,000 Protestants, a Catholic school for all religions, which is run by the Poor Sisters of the Child Jesus, as well as 3,000 Catholics gathered in just one parish run by the Carmelite friars of the Ancient Observance. They came here around 80 years ago from Holland. Morning and evening there is always fresh air. In the middle of the day the sun blazes. We are only 7 degrees latitude south of the equator. I had a look at the plants and I was struck by the varieties which were totally new for me, creating real beauty. Not lacking were also varieties found in Central Africa. Everywhere you can see Bonsai. I was really happy to meet the community in the Carmel of Batu, which has 4 priests and 18 aspirants coming for various islands (more than 17,000) in the country. After Mass, which I celebrated at 7 a.m. in the morning, I met Fr Cyprian Verbeek from Holland, 86 years old, followed by the very young aspirants. He has been there since 1952, from the beginning of this magnificent monastery, which reminds me of our seminary in Yolé. During the morning I made a rapid visit to the parish, the Catholic school and the Mayor, Dr Eddy Rumpoko, a Muslim who is on good terms with the Catholic minority and our friars.
The purpose of my presence in Indonesia. The image of the Little King has been in Indonesia for some time. Groups of pilgrims have received it as a gift from us. I found a copy of the statue with the Carmelite sisters, another at the sisters of the Catholic school and a third one at the Carmel of Batu. The morning included a concelebrated Mass at which the Bishop presided, together with the blessing of the statue of the Child Jesus, which was carried solemnly in procession to the grotto already prepared. There followed a solemn ceremony. The wife of the Mayor of Batu, Dewanti Rumpoco, a Muslim, was so moved, she expressed her pleasure at the solemn arrival of the Little King in her city?
The ambassador of the Czech Republic to Jakarta stated, ‘Working in various countries as Ambassador of my country is just a normal thing – of ambassadors, there are many – but when I present myself as Ambassador of the country which keeps the original statue of the Child Jesus of Prague, then I am surrounded by a festive atmosphere.’
I too had to speak. The Indonesian language is not very difficult. It uses the Latin alphabet and is read more or less as it is written. With the help of my confreres I prepared a greeting in Indonesian which concluded with the words ‘Berka’h Da’lem’ (the blessing of the Lord), which aroused a wave of applause. A document was prepared stating that the statue of the Child Jesus, a copy of the original in Prague, was a gift from our community to the Diocese of Malang as a sign of friendship and esteem for the Indonesian Catholics. The Bishop of Malang, Mgr H.J.S. Pandoyoputro O.Carm, signed it as the one receiving, and I signed it in the name of our friars in Prague. We concluded the ceremony by releasing doves of peace to the skies. In the evening I took part with the community in reciting Vespers, which was followed by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, with the ‘Tantum ergo’ sung in Latin.
Day of departure and the Feast of the Child Mary. I concelebrated Mass at 5.30 p.m. with our Carmelite brothers. I had time to walk to the foot of Mount Panderman where I had a pleasant surprise: beside the road was a primary school. I was surrounded by tens of little girls, dressed in white with head covered according to their custom, who welcomed and greeted me joyfully. The little boys did the same. Time was getting short so I returned to the monastery and left for Prague.
Greetings and a prayer that the Child Jesus may bless you.
Fr. Anastasio Roggero OCD