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New cathedral for Indonesian archdiocese

JAKARTA (UCAN): The Archdiocese of Samarinda, in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province inaugurated a new cathedral on April 30.
St. Mary of Perpetual Help Cathedral is being hailed as one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, its modern design displays the cultural heritage of ethnic Dayak people, the biggest tribal group in the region.
The inaugural ceremony was led by the papal nuncio to Indonesia, Archbishop Piero Pioppo, and East Kalimantan governor, Isran Noor, and was attended by thousands of Catholics as well as leaders of other faith confessions.
“This cathedral is a symbol of diversity in East Kalimantan. It brings happiness to all people, not only Catholics,” Indonesian news portal quoted Noor as telling the gathering.
Father Moses Komela Avan, the cathedral parish priest, said the church was now the biggest in East Kalimantan and could accommodate 4,000 worshipers.
He said its interior and exterior design is enhanced with carvings and paintings from Dayak tribes, while Gothic and contemporary architecture can be seen with the church’s tower and balcony.
“The Catholic mission has been present among the Dayak people for 114 years. That is why this cathedral was designed in their honour,” Father Komela explained.
During the ceremony, Dayak people from five tribes performed traditional dances for the attendees who included Ignatius Jonan, the only Catholic minister in the cabinet of Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo.
“We hope the new church will increase people’s love for the Catholic Church and encourage more people to come to Mass,” Father Komela said.
Archbishop Justinus Hardjo Susanto of Samarinda, said the cathedral aims to unite Catholics from various tribes and show appreciation of the local people and culture in general.
“The presence of this cathedral can strengthen the faith of Catholics and the unity of all religions, tribes, and ethics,” he said.
According to Father Komela, the new church was needed because the original cathedral—built in 1953—could only accommodate 800 people, while cathedral parish itself has about 7,000 Catholics.
Construction of the new church began in July 2017 and has cost about 60 billion rupiahs (approximately $33 million).
“The provincial government contributed 53 billion ($29 million), while the rest came from the Church,” Father Komela said.
The Archdiocese of Samarinda was established on 21 January 1961. It now has about 116,000 Catholics spread over 25 parishes.

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