Members of the Indonesian Catholic community having some fun during a gathering. Photo: Okkie TanupradjaMembers of the Indonesian Catholic community having some fun during a gathering. Photo: Okkie Tanupradja

In 1984, six Indonesian Catholics approached Mrs Josephine Handojo, as they wanted to create an Indonesian Catholic community in Singapore. They believed that Indonesian Catholics were being “lured to join other Christian denominations”, shared Mr Agus Handojo, 74, the husband of Josephine, one of the group’s coordinators.

Thus, the Keluarga Katolik Indonesia di Singapura (KKIS) or the Indonesian Catholic community in Singapore was formed.

CatholicNews spoke to Mr Handojo and his 74-year-old wife Josephine, together with the group’s spiritual director, Sacred Heart Fr Sambodo Sru Ujianto in Blessed Sacrament Church, to find out more about the community.

At present, Fr Sambodo “is like a nomad”, said Mrs Handojo during the Jan 28 interview.  She said that even though Fr Sambodo was in Singapore for three years, he still does not have an office to hold consultations despite conducting “a lot of interviews for those getting married or wanting to attend RCIA”.
From left: Mrs Josephine Handojo, spiritual director Fr Sambodo Sru Ujianto and Mr Agus Handojo.From left: Mrs Josephine Handojo, spiritual director Fr Sambodo Sru Ujianto and Mr Agus Handojo.

Moreover, the community faces a high turnover rate.

Currently, most Indonesian Catholics who come to Singapore are young adults studying on scholarship, or working here on a short-term basis. As such, it’s a challenge to find a team who is willing to serve the community on a long-term basis, said Mr Handojo.

Mrs Handojo added that on one occasion, for the community’s 20th anniversary celebrations, they put up a musical called Perhaps Love, but “three months before that, the secretary had left for Indonesia and then two people, the treasurer and one of the most active ladies who is his wife, also left”, said Mrs Handojo.

“We were struggling but on the whole, it [the musical] was a success,” she said.

Despite this, the coordinators still ensure that there are weekly Masses for all Indonesian Catholics.

Masses are held at 3.30pm every Sunday at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS) every first Sunday; at the Church of St Bernadette on the second and fourth Sundays; at the Church of St Mary of the Angels on the third Sunday, and at the Blessed Sacrament Church on the fifth Sunday if there is one.

The community has four choirs which take turns to sing in Bahasa Indonesia during Mass.   

Mrs Handojo shared that about 2,000 Indonesian Catholics attend these Masses every month.

“After every Mass, there is a gathering. It’s our tradition that we have snacks and drinks,” shared Mr Handojo.

Mrs Handojo added that with the large numbers of Indonesian Catholics attending the Masses, volunteers who help to prepare the meals follow a roster.

Prayer group meetings are also held every Wednesday morning from 10 am-noon.

“The eldest [who attends the meetings] is 84 and the youngest is around 20,” she said.

There is also an Indonesian Catholic youth group in Singapore called AmoreDio. It holds cell group meetings and activities in at least eight locations.

There is also the Persekutuan Doa Karismatik Katolik OLPS (OLPS Indonesian Charismatic prayer group), which meets every third Saturday of the month at 3.30 pm.

Apart from these activities, there is also Legion of Mary, RCIA, as well as children’s liturgy.

More importantly, every Thursday after lunchtime, Fr Sambodo, along with some members of the community, “visit the sick [Indonesian Catholics] in the whole of Singapore. If somebody calls from Changi Hospital, I must go there. Especially for the anointing of the sick,” said Fr Sambodo.

This year, KKIS will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a talent show on July 4. There will also be a special Mass at the Church of St Bernadette on July 12.

For more information, visit http://kkis.org/kkis/index.php; http://cg.amoredio.org/

By Lorna O’Hara
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Charismatic group serves the community
The Karismatik Katolik Indonesia Holy Spirit (KKIHS), which was established in 2000, is another group which caters to Indonesian Catholics in Singapore, said Ms Leny Januar, 49, one of the group’s coordinators.

When asked why KKIHS is not part of KKIS, Ms Januar said that KKIHS “operates independently”.

Currently, Fr Michael Sitaram is KKIHS’ spiritual director.

Every first Sunday of the month, Mass is held at 3.30 pm, at the Church of the Holy Spirit chapel, said Ms Januar.   
“There are also prayer meetings, praise and worship, talks and fellowship held on the second and last Friday of the month at 7.45 pm” in the Church of St Vincent de Paul, she said.

These activities are also held every Thursday at Holy Spirit Church at 2.30 pm.

KKIHS also holds “faith formation” seminars once a year, said Ms Januar.

To know more about KKIHS, visit http://kkihs.org/pd/

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