Diary from Indonesia - Week 5

Photo by Anne Corry, rscj


Jakarta, 21 February 2013

Sometimes things can seem so contrasting and yet on reflection they are very closely related. For me this contrast comes between the early morning Mass we go to and my participation in a staff meeting of the Jakarta NGO, FAKTA (Forum for the Residents of Jakarta). The Mass is an experience of such reverence and solemnity. The people give voice to their devotion through their singing. At the elevation of the Host a deep resonant gong is sounded and I catch my breath. Something of the mystery of this moment reverberates around the congregation.

Later in the morning, I am warmly and noisily welcomed to FAKTA at a staff meeting of energetic workers (volunteers, educators, community organisers, lawyers etc.) who advocate for the poor of Jakarta. The ‘poor’ of Jakarta means about 65% of the population where unemployment, housing, health and transportation are all serious problems. The atmosphere in the meeting is vibrant and full of fun. Also evident are passion and pragmatism. FAKTA is committed to empowering local communities through campaigning, workshops on social analysis and grassroots leadership development. The vast majority of the people in the community are Muslim. Amongst the eight large neighbourhood groups that FAKTA supports is a displaced community which has built its life in a disused cemetery nearby. At the staff meeting, strategies for an anti-tobacco campaign are underway. When I learn that the Society of the Sacred Heart supports FAKTA’s work through our Solidarity Fund I am very proud. My understanding and prayer for this organization will carry beyond Indonesia.

And what is the connection of this busy NGO attending to the issues of its mostly Muslim community and the quiet reverence of Mass? It reminds me of Teilhard de Chardin’s reflection on the Eucharist in ‘The Mass on the World’. It is something about the presence of God suffusing not only our vast universe but also our complex world.

Anne Corry, rscj

Province of Australia-New Zealand