Ketapang remembers the Augustinian nuns
The story of Dutch missionaries is at the heart of a book by Mathias Hariyadi. Between 1949 and 2003, the nuns served in Kalimantan, one of the most remote areas in West Borneo. The health and educational facilities they build are a valuable contribution to the local Church.
June 02, 2021
JAKARTA: More than 70 years after their arrival in Indonesia, the memory of the missionaries of the Order of Saint Augustine (Augustine nuns) remains alive in the diocese of Ketapang.
Present in the region from 1949 to 2003, their history is at the heart of that of Mathias Hariyadi and his co-author Royani Ping. new book: Jalan Berlumpur, Sungai Beriam: OSA Membangun Ketapang (The Muddy Road, the Clear Rivers: The Order of St. Augustine and the Development of Ketapang).
The Diocese of Ketapang is located in West Kalimantan, a province in the Indonesian part of the island of Kalimantan (Borneo), and is only accessible during the rainy season, when the river level rises allowing navigation with motor boats.
During the dry season, short paved roads dot the landscape, while muddy paths are littered with boulders and crocodiles.
If the area is still inaccessible today, imagine what it was like in 1949 when the first group of Augustine nuns arrived in Ketapang from the Netherlands, three years after three Dutch missionaries from the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus -Christ (Passionists) put Catholic mission.
Two of them, Fathers Raphael Kleyne and Caspar Ridder van der Schueren, died in 1952 due to the difficult conditions in the region.
One day their boat ran aground in the Pesaguhan River because of the rocky bottom, with the engine not working, the boat overturned and floated on the river. Only the Dutch nurse who was with them managed to survive thanks to a tree trunk in which her hair had tangled.
It was a blow to the mission. Father Raphael Kleyne led it and Father Van der Schueren delivered clean water by boat to the missionary nuns every afternoon.
This story and others are described in the book, which is the product of careful research of the archives of the Augustine Nuns and interviews with members of the mission.
Reading the book, we discover that the first seeds of Christianity arrived in the region thanks to three cloth merchants from the Shantou region in mainland China.
One of them, Tan A Hak, traveled daily to remote areas of Ketapang and reported to the Vicar Apostolic of Dutch Borneo that certain indigenous groups were interested in Christianity.
In 1955, the first professional course was introduced, with the first four novices of the Dayak ethnicity.
In 2003, having reached an advanced age, the Dutch missionaries of the Order of Saint Augustine returned to their convent in Heemstede (the Netherlands).
Sister Dionee Appelman, 80, was the last sister to leave for Indonesia in 1979, and the last to return to her home country.
“We were getting old and we didn’t want to disturb our Indonesian sisters to take care of us,” she said. AsiaNews. “Therefore, we left the mission to retreat to our own country without disturbing others in Indonesia. “
Some 21 Dutch nuns were involved in ministry in the diocese of Ketapang during this period, improving health care and education. Even after all these years, their precious contribution continues to be nurtured by the local Church.––Asian News