From Kei, Catholicism Gets Into the Land of Papua – “The history of the spread of Catholicism and Catechism in Papua is related to the presence of Catholicism in the Kei Islands, Southeast Maluku, leading to Fak-Fak,” said Dr. Bernarda Meteray, a history lecturer and researcher from Cenderawasih University (Uncen).

 He explained it as a part of the material on “The History of the Entry of the Catholic Church in Papua” in a workshop held at the Hall of the Church of Christ the Light of the World, Waena, Monday-Tuesday (21-22/3/2022), related to the involvement of Catechists in the Mission of the Catholic Church. in Tanah in Papua, The Presence of the Catholic Church in Papua.

 Meteray said the efforts of the pioneering Catholic church pastors, Johanes Kusters SJ and Catechists from Kei to Papua suffered a formidable challenge. “Johanes Kusters SJ. from the Netherlands as the first pastor to set foot in Kei, 1 September 1889 baptized the first 10 youths. It is the beginning of the development of Catholicism starting in Kei,” he said. Then on October 12, 1892 a ship came “: Camphuys” in the port of Tual. The ship carried a letter from Mgr. AIR CONDITIONING. Claesens, Apostolic vicar of Batavia (Jakarta).

Letter addressed to Pastor Carolus van der Heyden. Regarding the contents of the letter, the main point is this: “Get on the Camphuys ship” which carries this letter. Go to the southern part of West Irian. Look for a place where the priest thinks it’s good to set up a station [area],” he said. The author of the book “Dual Papuan Nationalism” said that in the history of the Catholic church there were two Jesuit Union Pastors (SJ) who set foot to carry the gospel in Papua in Fak-Fak.

In October 1889, Pastor Carolus van der Hayden brought two youths Langgur Yustinus with Marius to sail on the Camphuis ship to Papua, heading to Selerika. But they failed to open the station. On 18 May 1892 Pastor Le Cocoq d’Armandville headed for the village of Sekeru near Fak-Fak in Papua. In Sekeru, 73 children aged 3 to 7 were baptized Catholic.

Meteray said that Catechists, both single and with families, left Kei for Papua using the KPM (Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij) boat or a boat from Langgur to the southern coast of Papua. “They started their journey from Key Langgur, Southeast Maluku and stopped at Dobo, Kaimana to Fak-Fak, Kokonao, Babo and Merauke.

Despite passing through difficult terrain and high tides, they conquered the southern coast to spread Catholicism,” he said. Interestingly, before leaving the land of Kei, the teachers/Catechists attended a missionary mass in the form of a “Requeim Mass” ceremony to celebrate farewell to their relatives. “This is done because they know that when they go to Papua they will not come back. Because the discourse that had been built in Kei was that at that time, there were certain tribes that killed Papuans and so on,” he said.

Meteray said that the Catechists did not come to Papua with wealth, nor did they seek wealth or valuables. They came with the mission of humanizing humans. “The Catechists from Kei, came armed with Bibles, Jubilates, Crosses, Rosaries and firm faith in Jesus, obeying the orders of the great commission to Papua,” he said.

The pastors and Catechists began to spread Catholicism in 1926 in the Mimika area on May 9, 1926, Pastor J. Aerts and Father F. Kowatzki and two Kei teachers, in front of the mouth of the Mimika River.

“While touring the village of Kokonao, Father Aerts performed his first baptism, when he found a dying baby in a woman’s arms,” ​​he said.

Meteray said that in mid-1927 a homely school known as Beschaving school (civilization school) was opened with the first teacher Christianus Rettob in Megowia village, Kokonao district.

“Then followed by other teachers in several places that had been pointed” he said. One of the pioneers who also presented the material, Piet Maturbongs said that the duties of Catechists/mother teachers/Catechists included building huts by cutting down large trees and groves and planting tubers.

“(They) make visits to local residents using sign language even though they are suspicious of the teachers, they also treat sick people using traditional medicines, take care of conflicts in the village, lead weekly worship services,” he said.

Maturbongs said that Catechists always look for the community to take their children to school and take their children to school or to the dormitory for education.

“Because it’s part of their duty, as is their mission,” he said. Maturbongs said, meanwhile, the duty of the Nyora or the teacher’s wife is to train the students both at school and in villages, such as sewing clothes, weaving mats, baskets, nyiru, kamboti and others.

“In the family home there was also an additional house built to train the girls to learn to cook, sew and wash in preparation for those getting married,” he said.

Quoting Droglever’s statement (2010), Maturbongs said that the presence of older Indonesians from Maluku like Ambon, Kei, Tanimbar and from Manado as teachers was considered to have contributed to the continuity of work, especially in the early stages of expanding the territory of the government and the church.

“Their presence will facilitate contact with local residents,” he said. Maturbongs said, Herman Renwarin (1981), Kei and Tanimbar teachers did not yet have knowledge of the Mimika community. They came with the knowledge of elementary teacher education as well as an awareness of teaching religion as a noble task.

 “It’s not surprising that they are placed in villages for years either alone or with their families,” he said.

Maturbongs reminded the younger generation from Kei, Maluku, Tanimbar that they need to understand the world of Papuans.

“It is necessary to build a real attitude of love and partiality towards the owners of the Land of Papua,” he said.

Maturbongs said to continually build and maintain togetherness with everyone on this land. “Continue to maintain the values ​​of the struggle of the teachers/catechists of the past in living together today for the sake of building a community in the land of Papua,” he said.

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