Prior Provincial of Dominican Province of the Philippines Father Napoleon Sipalay Jr OP was in Indonesia to attend the October 13 ordination of Father Mingdry Hanafi Tjipto OP in Redemptor Mundi Parish of Surabaya, the only parish run by the Dominicans in Indonesia. During the ordination Mass presided by Bishop Vincentius Sutikno Wisaksono of Surabaya, Father Sipalay and Father Adrian Adiredjo acted as concelebrants.
After the Mass and the dinner, Paul C Pati met Father Sipalay for an interview regarding the ceremony, the number of Indonesia Dominican priests, the works of the Dominicans in Indonesia, the assignment of Father Mingdry, and the relationship with the Dominican sisters and lay Dominicans.
What is your impression about this ordination ceremony of Father Mindry?
I am very happy and I am very inspired because our growth in this place is not only marked by the ordination of a new priest, but the efforts from the Dominican Family (friars, sisters, and laity) Dominican and the support of the bishop and other priests. They show how we are being a Church. We, the Dominicans, are not alone, but together with all collaborators. I think that this is a very good image of building our Church, especially here in this part of the country, Surabaya.
But only four Indonesian priests of your province for were ordained for more than a decade!
Actually in the order we are not after for number or quantity but for quality service that we can give for the Church. Yes, if we only after for number may we can ordain a lot of priest in a year. But our services for the Church, being Dominican, are the doctrinal services for the Church. So from the very beginning we have to prepare our brothers to engage themselves in this role of doctrinal preaching or helping in the theologizing, and the brothers have to be prepared in the studies and in the qualifications.
So, most of Indonesian brothers now are not ordained until they finish their licentiate or master degree. It is the minimum requirement. But I think, after Father Mingdry there are more brothers from Indonesia will be ordained. Thus, we have to look at that direction: Because we are after for doctrinal service for the Church, we have to prepare brothers. So, even there only four after a decade, but at least they are Dominicans.
How about the works of the Dominican in your two houses in Indonesia?
Honestly as a missionary, myself, coming from another mission in South Asia, normally we have intention of not only implanting the Order or put the Order here. In the house like in Pontianak, the demand as we arrived there was to present in interreligious dialogue and seminary formation.
But I think now the demand is how to involve in the evangelization through education. The challenge of the bishop is to collaborate not only with the dioceses but other stake holders, other congregations and other laypersons to come up with a Catholic university in the future for Kalimantan. And here in Surabaya they are asked for helping this parish of Redemptor Mundi and formation of young candidate in seminary, hopefully in the secular students in the university.
Education is one of our priorities as Dominican Province of the Philippines. I hope with the gift we have there we can bring here also. But more than having school, seminary or parish, the challenge for us is how we could really bring our gift as Dominicans in helping people to really come to know God and by coming to know God they become closer to Him. We have the dictum: “The more we know, the more we love. The more we know God, the more we love God.”
But both Pontianak and Surabaya bishops said that their dioceses need more priests!
It is a very important challenge from the bishops where we are serving in Pontianak archdiocese and here in Surabaya diocese. But I think, we have to follow what the Lord said, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” But more than praying we have to do also our part, to go for promotion of vocation, not only to go to places and meet people, but where we are we care of the young, the pastoral care for the young, and encourage them to see the beauty of dedicating oneself to the Lord and religious life.
Dominican has the service not only in religious life but in the ministry of being presbyter, presider for the Eucharist celebration and the sacraments presbyters are called to minister. I have no answer for the question of how, but I do not believe there is a very few number of vocations coming to the Church. There are many generous hearts. The need is to give them the environment, the experience in God and God’ call will be the one to hopefully bring them to the service not only for Dominican but, I believe, should be for the Church. We have to promote vocation in the Church especially for the priesthood, not only for Dominican but for diocesan and other congregations.
Where will you assign Father Mingdry?
Mindry will have a program for a new ordained. The first year is always near the formation house. In Indonesia the formation house is in Surabaya. But I heart from his formator that he must finish some programs he is not finished yet. So he has to finish them before we assign here. But whatever this, his first assignation is in Surabaya and the second in mission place. Because Pontianak is assigned for missionaries, he will spend the second year there for one or two years. After serving in the mission place he will have another assignation. Where ever the need is he has to be sent. But more need I think in Surabaya, because of the parish and of the bishop’s request to take care of the university.
I learned that the Dominican friars in Indonesia grow thanks to the Dominican sisters?
It must be symbiotic. I believe where ever they go for promotion of vocation they promote the Dominican Family, not only the brothers but also the apostolic sisters and even the lay Dominicans. But in the future, hopefully we can promote another aspect of the family which is not here in Indonesia, the contemplative. This group never stops praying for us and never stops praying God to send more laborers to the Harvest. In the future I hope to see them here.
Lay Dominican is under the Philippines Province as well. How do you see them here?
One thing is that they are not only very creative but much deserved to live up to their vocation. One group once came to ask to become part of the Dominican family as Lay Dominican. We do not have the presence of Dominican friars in Jakarta, but they have a group there. They have groups also in some parts of Indonesia. The friars are not there but the sisters are there.
We have to encourage the lay Dominicans to really find their role in our ministries. I hope they could be active collaborators. Here in this parish is very clear in many aspects. I saw also in Pontianak they are collaborating with our presence there. But, more than just in liturgical participation or the ritual of profession, they must be more active in the real ministry of the Dominican, having ministry of education, having ministry in the evangelization through different aspect in future, media for example.
Because, they are not additional number, they are also preachers, they have to find their voices in the Church, not in the way we preach on the pulpit, because as lay person, but to find their voice in different ways. They are not additional workers but partners.***