The Jakarta Post
Two Muslim high school girls drape a "congkar" shawl on Rikardus as a sign of welcome in Puncak Liur Village, Flores, after he was officiated as a Catholic priest. (JP/Markus Makur)
As dusk started to fall on the west side of Flores Island at around 4 p.m. on Oct. 2, two Muslim high school girls wearing hijabs and donning East Manggarai traditional attires draped a congkar shawl on Catholic priest Rikardus Karno.
At Puncak Liur village in Sambirampas subdistrict, East Manggarai regency, Rikardus had just received the Catholic Sacrament of Holy Orders from Denpasar Bishop Mgr. Silvester San, who was also the apostolic administrator of Ruteng diocese. Rikardus will then carry out his church duties at Ponggeok parish in Manggarai district.
After the Mass, it was time for a humble celebration for both Catholic and Muslim families of Puncak Liur village. The residents have lived side by side for decades, and some were bonded by blood. They welcomed Rikardus, who was born and raised in Puncak Liur, at the village gate.
Imam Yakub Ladus of Fatahilla Mosque welcomed Rikardus while the residents — all in East Manggarai traditional attire — sat on mats and hummed a chant in their ethnic language.
To The Jakarta Post, Yani Abdul Tahir, an Islamic teacher in the area, said that the bond between Muslim and Catholic residents was forged when the village was built decades ago.
“As Muslims and as part of the family, we are grateful, and we share the joy that he was officiated as a priest,” he said.
After the two Muslim girls draped the shawl on Rikardus, they hugged him.
Rikardus receives an embrace to welcome him to the village. (JP/Markus Makur)
Afterward, the priest was carried by two Muslim men into the house of the mosque’s imam.
Rikardus is carried into the village by two Muslim men. (JP/Markus Makur)
Oktavianus Dalmin, a member of Rikardus’ family, told the Post that a committee with members of both religions was made for the celebration.
“Starting from preparations, decorations, to traditional rituals, everything was done together,” he added.
Rikardus said he had grown up with Muslim friends and relatives.
“In our daily lives, we were always together. I then studied philosophy and Islamic studies at Ledalero Philosophy and Theology College in Maumere. I learnt that all religions teach the same thing, that the meaning of life lies in the hands of God,” he said.
He also said that his brother was studying at an Islamic boarding school in Java.
“There are my family members who are Muslim as well,” he added, saying that the traditional rituals in the village came from ancestors of both religions.
“I am grateful that I was born and raised among a family that holds both Catholic and Muslim beliefs,” he said. “I am thankful as well that I was welcomed so warmly after I was officiated. We are one big family of Muslims and Catholics, and I intend to learn more about the stories of this village.” (wng)