The Development of the Catholic Mission in the Lesser Sunda Islands – Indonesia under the Society of the Divine Word (SVD): From One Apostolic Prefecture to Two Apostolic Vicariates (1913-1942)
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BR Christianity 
2021-01-25 01:30:08 
Abstract :
After 27 years of being present as a mission congregation with its Mother House located in Steyl, the Netherlands, it turns out that the SVD did not yet have a mission territory in the Dutch colony. This triggered the initial idea to start mission work in the Dutch East Indies which began to be fought for since 1902. The missionary work of the SVD in the Dutch East Indies began in 1913. According to the initial plan, this mission would be handled by the SVD missionaries of Dutch origin led by Fr. Petrus Noyen, supported by several missionaries from other nationalities. With great enthusiasm, Fr. Petrus Noyen set out for the Dutch East Indies. This initial work began in conjunction with the start of World War I which made it difficult to send missionary personnel. During the war, the Lesser Sundas mission suffered from a shortage of priests. The shortage of personnel was felt because a large number of old Catholics in Flores was also left to the SVD. The shortage was increasingly felt by the deaths of 3 SVD missionaries due to Spanish influenza. Even so, SVD superiors always tried to find a way so that the Lesser Sundas mission could still be served as well as possible. After World War I ended, personnel difficulties began to be gradually overcome, and more and more missionaries were sent there. This was when the Lesser Sundas mission began to develop rapidly. The Lesser Sundas Prefecture was upgraded to a vicariate in 1922. Since then, the Lesser Sundas mission had become the mission with the largest number of Catholics in the entire Dutch East Indies. One important factor boosting the increase in the number of Catholics was the obligation of teaching Catholic religion in all public schools. Graduates from these schools later became «catechists» in various villages which added to the number of Catholics with their service. This number continues to grow from year to year. A large number of Catholics, of course, required greater responsibility. Therefore, a better mission method was applied. The «Statutes of the Lesser Sundas Vicariate of 1930» became the forerunner to the famous book «Manuale Pastorale 1938». This pastoral work was supported by the founding of the Arnoldus printing press (1926) and the carpentry school (1928). The formation of indigenous priests with its first ordination in 1941 was also one of the important milestones. In 1936 the Vicariate of Dutch-Timor was established. This division confirmed that the Catholics in the Lesser Sundas were developed not only in their quantity aspect, but also in their quality of faith. 
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