By Robin Gomes
The northern Indonesian Diocese of Manado has been holding a series of activities to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Catholic Church in the region. The Church in the North Sulawesi province in the region inhabited by the Minahasa people was established on Sept. 14, 1868 when Jesuit Father Johannes De Vries baptized 24 people there.
"Within one year we were already holding various activities here including social services offering free medication for the ill, faith formation and inter-religious dialogue among parishes and at the episcopal vicariate and diocese levels," Father Damianus Pongo, the organizer of the celebrations told UCANEWS on Feb. 22.
Bishop Benedictus Estephanus Rolly Untu of Manado whom Pope Francis appointed Bishop of Manado in July, kicked off the anniversary jubilee last September at St. Paul Parish in Lembean village. Among the activities of the anniversary are a choir-singing contest and a children’s essay competition on the history of the Church. The 12-month-long festivities will culminate with a special Mass led by Bishop Untu on Sept. 14.
Father Pongo said recent efforts at inter-religious dialogue have paid dividends in terms of strengthening bonds with other religions. "We must continue to pursue this program as a part of the celebrations," he said. "This is an inter-religious celebration."
Manado Diocese covers the three provinces of Gorontalo, Central Sulawesi and North Sulawesi. A suffragan of Makassar Archdiocese, Manado Diocese has nine vicariates, 62 parishes, 101 diocesan priests, 35 religious priests, 230 sisters and 62 brothers providing pastoral services to 156,579 Catholics.