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Friday, 02 December 2022 11:21

Carmelites reinforce presence among the Poor in Indonesia

The Society of the Little Way Jakarta, an Indonesian lay Carmelite group inspired by St. Therese of Lisieux, held a social ministry in Gempol Sukun, Malang, Indonesia on October 1st, 2022. They involved the Carmelite students in Malang were also involved in this social ministry.

The area of Gempol Sukun Malang was chosen as the location for this social ministry because it is the area where the Carmelite friars started their social ministry back to 1970s. The decision to become socially involved was made following the general chapter which discussed the preferential option for the poor. In 1973 the Indonesian Carmelite friars were entrusted by the local government of Malang to help empower the homeless people living under the bridges and in the slum area of the city. The local government gave a piece of land intending it to be the center for the Carmelite ministry.

The Carmelites did fundraising in the Netherlands and in Jakarta to fund the project. They built simple houses in the area and distributed the house to the poor. The Carmelites also invited the sisters of various congregation to educate and to receive the children in their boarding schools. Some of the people who accepted the efforts of the Carmelites 50 years ago now are living better lives. The next generation of the neighborhood number many teachers and nurses. However, the acceptance of the program was not universal. Those who did not want to follow the empowerment program and some of those continue to be poor and live below standard. They became the focus of the social ministry of the Society of the Little Way Jakarta.

In doing this social ministry, the members of the Society of Little Way, accompanied by the Carmelite students, visited the poorer families, going house to house. They talked with the families, gave them a package of items for their daily needs, and encouraged them to struggle for development. Although at that time the weather was not good and it rained heavily, they continued walking around the area, following the narrow path to the various houses.

The people were very happy to spend time with the Carmelites. They said that they felt really touched by the visit and the friendliness of the members of the Community of the Little Way.

After doing the social ministry, the members of the Community of the Little Way and the Carmelite students joined the mass in St. Therese of Lisieux chapel which is located in the heart of the area. They experienced that in the Church, they all belong to the same family: the family of the Lord, there are no more differences among them; they all are one regardless their race and ethnicity, educational background, social status, and political tendencies.

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