21-year-old Singaporean Catholic Darren Chan shares his journey of experiencing God and the strengthening of his faith in Yogyakarta, especially near a volcano that erupted recently.
The Ganjuran orphans with the Sisters who are their pillars of support and love.The Ganjuran orphans with the Sisters who are their pillars of support and love.
I was to embark on my first overseas trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia with a group of 27 Catholics from Singapore. Days before, I heard that Mount Kelud, an active volcano situated 200 km from my destination had erupted.

However, through God’s grace and fervent prayers, I was greeted with sunny and clear skies upon arrival and there was no sign that the eruption had occurred.  

From Feb 24 to 28, I had the chance to learn more about the Catholic community in Indonesia.

One of the Religious groups that left an impression on me was the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance in Rawaseneng and Gedono. I visited both their monastery and nunnery.

I had the opportunity to find out more about their lives by speaking with two Catholic Trappist monks, Br Antonius Anjar Daniadi and Br Joseph Marie Cassant from the monastery. There are a total of 28 monks residing there with their abbot as their in charge. The monastery was affected by Mount Kelud’s eruption but it was just for one day which resulted in sticky ash, dust and pools of water.
I was touched by the monks and nuns’ hospitality and their sharing of their life in a community where they dedicate their time and effort to serving God. It showed their determination and perseverance in loving one another and keeping the faith through daily prayer. Attending a prayer session with them also gave me peace of mind in reflecting on life and the importance of prayer. The children from Papua New Guinea feeding the sheep which they help to look after with the Sisters’ supervision.The children from Papua New Guinea feeding the sheep which they help to look after with the Sisters’ supervision.

Other than visiting the Religious groups, I had the opportunity to visit the Ganjuran Church and Orphanage in Yogyakarta to distribute used clothing and toys to them. The church caught my eye as it was heavily influenced by Hinduism.

Seeing the happy expressions on the children’s faces when they saw the used clothing and toys that we brought for them was a priceless experience. They were very appreciative and they even gladly showed us around as they do not get many visitors.

This experience changed me in learning to appreciate the little things in life and to trust in God through prayer.
Towards the end of my spiritual journey in Indonesia, I had the privilege of interacting with the local Indonesian Catholic Chinese community and to have a meal with them at an art gallery which could accommodate all of us.

The local Catholic community belongs to a group called the Forum Komunikasi Pengusaha and Professional Katolik Magelang (FKPPK). It gathers the community of Catholic professionals and entrepreneurs in Magelang. The community’s purpose is to raise funds for schools and kindergartens to help more children receive education.

The members engage in social work such as helping orphanages and bringing their presence to nursing homes on
Christmas.

Mr Daniel Lagaida and Mr Antonius Ryan, two young adults who belonged to FKPPK told me that Catholics join them because of their own faith. Mr Ryan, whose father owns an art gallery said, “The art gallery is used to facilitate the exposure and a platform for aspiring artists to showcase their art pieces.”

There are 50 members in the community and the junior community which consists of 20 members focuses on passing down the faith to the next generation of young adults as there are only four churches in Magelang.  

Other interesting places that I visited were St Aloysius Church, St Ignatius Church, Cave of the Virgin Mary and the batik factory. Praying the rosary and singing hymns while going from one place to another was also a part of the trip.

This pilgrimage has made me treasure the small things in life, to pray more for God’s guidance through life’s challenges
and to have more faith as a Catholic.

This trip was made possible by Fr Robertus Sarwiseso, our spiritual director.

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