Jayapura, Jubi – It was 128 years ago when Catholicism entered Papua in Skuru, Fak-Fak. Today, February 2, 2023, marked a historical day as an Indigenous Papuan priest was appointed the first Papuan Bishop in the Diocese of Jayapura.
The new bishop, Msgr. Yanuarius Theofilus Matopai You, was ordained by apostolic nuncio of the Vatican Ambassador to Indonesia Msgr. Piero Pioppo in the church of Christ the King Jayapura Cathedral.
To witness the ordination ceremony, thousands of people poured into the Cathedral Church complex and Mandala Dok V Jayapura stadium. In addition to those living in Jayapura and Sentani, there were also those who came from other areas throughout Papua.
Catholic clergy Yan Awiikaituma Ukago said the presence of thousands of people was for three reasons.
"The first reason, becoming a bishop is very difficult. You have to go through various challenges and tests and strict bishop selection in Romas. Father You became a bishop because he met these difficult criteria," Ukago told Jubi on Thursday, February 2, 2023.
Second, he continued, the position of Bishop is unique. Although based in Jayapura, a Bishop is ordained by the Vatican.
"The Catholic church is one and universal. Even the cough of a bishop is full of meaning. Hopefully, the Indigenous Papuans bishop would stand above all interests to fight for the public interest. For this reason, this ordination has dozens of bishops including from other neighboring countries, "he said.
Third, he continued, for native Papuans this moment served the pride of native Papuans in this country. Even though the new bishop came from the Mee tribe in Paniai, many native Papuans of different tribes, as well as the sky, the wind and the leaves today welcome the excitement.
"Not only Catholics but also congregations from Christian denominations, not only native Papuans but also non-Native Papuans are grateful to the Pope in Rome for the peace and faith guarded in the land of Papua," he said.
Education must be prioritized
The ordination of the Jayapura Bishop received massive support not only from ordinary people but a number of officials in government circles. Keerom Regent Piter Gusbager expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the previous bishop, Mgr Leo Laba Ladjar for his love, devotion and work for the past 30 years in the Jayapura Diocese.
"This moment of faith is a sign that God loves his people, and a moment of salvation for Papuans. We hope the new bishop can continue what has been laid by Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar. Embrace all parties to cooperate with the diocese and the Catholic church under the leadership of the new bishop so that Papua remains a light for many people," Gusbager told reporters after the ordination event.
The Diocese of Jayapura, he said, was one of the partners of the Keerom Government, especially in the field of education. According to him, the Catholic-based education pattern was one of the best in Papua.
"Therefore, we hope that the Bishop can find and cooperate with various partners to save the younger generation of Papua by creating a contextualized education with a dormitory model," he said.
"I hope the Bishop will look for and cooperate with us in all fields, especially in the field of education and we, the Keerom government, will be ready to support the Catholic Church, especially in the field of education," he added. (*)