Celebrating 40 years of Indonesian regents in Micronesia

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Forty years after he first arrived in Micronesia as a regent, Indonesian Jesuit Fr Martinus Sumarno Darmosuwarno SJ still has strong memories of his two years there. “Since I was the only scholastic on the island, I learned to be independent, to learn English and to do all the tasks given to me. I taught Mathematics I to IV, Typing Class I and II, and became a Dean of the students. I was lucky to experience an international community,” he said.

Fr Darmosuwarno was the first Indonesian Jesuit to be sent to Micronesia for regency in a partnership between the Indonesian Province and what was then the New York Province. He served in Xavier High School on the island of Chuuk from 1977 to 1979. Since then, another 22 Indonesian regents have served in the Jesuit school in Micronesia.

On August 10, 13 of the former Indonesian Xavier regents gathered in St Ignatius College in Yogyakarta with Fr Dennis Baker SJ, current President of Xavier High School, to reminisce about their days in the school and their regency in the islands of Micronesia.

Fr Agustinus Eko Budi Santoso SJ, who did his regency from 2000 to 2003, related how his time in Micronesia shaped his future ministry in education. “A year after I did my regency, I did my annual retreat in Pohnpei under the direction of the late Fr Joe Cavanagh SJ. During my retreat, Jesus asked me, ‘Eko, do you love me?’ I said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you’. He said to me, ‘Tend my sheep’. The students are Jesus’ sheep. Jesus asks me to help him take care of them and help them grow academically and spiritually so that they can be men and women for and with others,” he shared. “One of my tasks is to help them know the purpose for which God created them and to help them achieve that objective.”

Fr Surya Awangga SJ (far right) with his students during his regency in Micronesia

Newly-ordained priest Fr Surya Awangga SJ, who worked in Xavier High School from 2013 to 2014, said that his most important learning in Micronesia were on the spirit of “minima societas” and collaboration. “Since Xavier High School relies on the generosity of sponsors and donors, the school embraces all good peoples around the world,” he said.

Fr Darmosuwarno added,“I feel proud because the Indonesian Province’s partnership with the UNE Province has lasted more than 40 years. I pray that this mutual work lasts forever.” Joining them in the celebration of the 40-year partnership were Indonesian Provincial Fr Sunu Hardiyanta SJ and Socius Fr Lucianus Suharjanto SJ along with two former Provincials, Fr Carolus Putranto SJ and Fr Paulus Wiryono Priyotamtama SJ.

“In the 40 years since the first regent arrived, there was never an occasion during which all the former regents were together,” said Fr Baker. “I wanted to make a trip to Indonesia, primarily, to thank those men on behalf of Xavier, on behalf of the New York Province and on behalf of the USA Northeast Province (UNE).”

His effort was much appreciated and Fr Putranto thanked him, on behalf of the former and current Indonesian Xavier regents, for the time he spent with them.

Fr Baker said he was inspired to hear the sharing of the former regents and to know what they have become since they left Mabuchi Hill. “Many are directors of works, several are former provincials, many are superiors and teachers in high schools and colleges. The former XHS-MIC regents are like a little club, and it is a talented one,” he remarked.

He is also grateful to hear about how much Xavier continues to mean to the lives of these men.

“Xavier has stuck with them. It’s made them better Jesuits, better priests and better human beings,” said Fr Baker. “As I told them, I know the feeling.”