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The History of Montfortian's Mission

The History of Montfortian mission cannot be separated from the development of SMM itself. SMM was first formed in France and then to the Netherlands, Canada, and America. From the Netherlands, SMM expanded to Indonesia. 

Early Presence in Indonesia

History of the Montfortan's Mission or the Company of Mary (Societas Mariae Montfortana) is one of the unions founded by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716), better known as Saint Montfort. Starting from the territory of France, the homeland of the founding father, the Company of Mary (SMM) has expanded to various countries with the mission of establishing the Kingdom of Jesus through Mary. In this tarekat, the marial and missionary characteristics are closely fused and cannot be separated from each other. Not surprisingly, the Montfortans are often known as the Missionaries of the Company of Mary.

The Milestones of the Montfortian's Mission were reflected in 2014. In 2014, the Company of Mary celebrated 75 years of its presence in Indonesia. Starting from dealing with the eastern region of the Pontianak apostolic vicariate, which is now known as the Sintang diocese, the Montfortan Union has worked in several dioceses, namely the dioceses of Sintang, Bandung, Ruteng and Palangkaraya. Apart from dealing with parishes, SMM has gradually opened up its field of service in categorical areas through youth development, community leadership courses, and practical needs to support parish work. To support the development of this work, it is undeniable that priests and brothers are needed and receive serious attention. Moreover, the demands for universality inherent in the world's SMM services require SMM Indonesian to send and strengthen several mission areas handled by SMM abroad.

Parish as a Form of Early Work of SMM

The history of the Montfortian's Mission cannot be separated from the early work of SMM. The existence of SMM in Indonesia cannot be separated from the need for priests who were very lacking at the beginning of pioneering mission work in the Kalimantan region, especially in West Kalimantan, which were handled by Capuchin priests. In 1905, the territory of Kalimantan was upgraded to Apostolic Prefect and Father Pacificus Bos, OFM Cap was appointed his Apostolic Prefect. After the East and South Kalimantan regions were taken over by the Missionaries of the Holy Family (MSF) priests, and later became the Apostolic Prefecture of Banjarmasin, the Capuchins concentrated on the West Kalimantan region. Nevertheless, the need for pastoral workers remains large considering the area of West Kalimantan itself is very large. Therefore, Mgr. Boss is trying to find new congregations that can help the work in West Kalimantan.

The effort to bring in new missionaries was continued by Mgr. Van Valenberg, successor to Mgr. Boss. In 1936, Mgr. Valenberg offered the Union of Maria Montfortian, Province of the Netherlands to take over part of the mission work in West Kalimantan. Previously, the Dutch Capuchin Provincial Father had explored the correspondence with the Dutch SMM through a letter dated 5 July 1924. After the first offer had not received a positive response, Mgr. Valenberg again made an offer to the Dutch SMM in 1938. This second offer was later accepted by the SMM Dutch Province so that starting from 1938, although he had not sent any missionaries, the Sintang and Kapuas Hulu mission areas were the responsibility of SMM.

Efforts to finalize this plan are carried out intensively by Mgr. Valenberg and Father Provincial SMM Netherlands. The realization of the takeover of the responsibility for the Sintang and Kapuas Hulu mission areas occurred in 1939 after the first three SMM missionaries arrived in Indonesia. They were Father Harry L'ortye, Father Jan Linssen, and Br. Bruno. After several stops, they arrived at the Parish of the Holy Family of Nazareth-Bika on April 29, 1939. This was the first parish to be taken over by SMM from the Capuchins. About two months later, on June 10, 1939, Father Linssen left for Putussibau and began to settle there. This date is then considered as the founding of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Putussibau, as well as being the first parish opened by SMM. In 1940, the SMM Dutch Province sent two missionaries to increase the strength of the pioneer missionaries, they were Father Lambertus van Kessel and Father Josef Wintraecken.

The situation of World War II also colored the initial steps of the SMM mission in the region which was later known as the Sintang Diocese. In the years 1942-1946, all the missionaries of SMM along with other missionaries in the West Kalimantan region were exiled to the Kuching Region by the Japanese government. In 1946, they returned from exile and then slowly took over all the territories previously served by the Capuchins. This year, Father. van Kessel was sent to Banua Martinus while Father L'ortye stayed in Sintang. In the early months of 1947, all the parishes served by the Capuchins were taken over by the SMM. This can not be separated from the increasing number of missionaries sent from the Netherlands.

Efforts to develop missions in the Sintang and Kapuas Hulu regions developed well along with the increasing status of Sintang from the Apostolic Prefecture of Pontianak to the Apostolic Prefecture of Sintang, and Father Lambertus van Kessel was appointed his Apostolic Prefect on March 11, 1948. Since then, there have been two leaderships in Sintang for the Montfortians. Father L'ortye was re-elected as Superior Religiosus SMM and Mgr. Lambert van Kessel as Apostolic Prefect of Sintang. Furthermore, the opening of new parishes was promoted in good cooperation between Father. L'ortye and Mgr. Kessel. The development of parish areas is directed to the Melawi area. In 1947, Nanga Serawai Parish was opened with the presence of Father. Adrian Schellart. Subsequently, in 1949, Nanga Pinoh became a parish and was served by Jan Linssen.

When there was political tension between Indonesia and the Netherlands, regarding the issue of Irian Jaya (Papua), the SMM mission in Sintang was challenged because the Indonesians refused to grant visas to Dutch people and nationalized many Dutch companies. This political situation had an impact on the delegation of responsibility for handling the mission in Sintang to the SMM Province of the United States of America. Starting on May 3, 1959, the SMM mission in Sintang was handed over to the United States Provincial of SMM, followed by the arrival of the first American missionaries in November 1960. Although handled by the American Provincial of SMM, the Dutch Missionaries continued to work in Sintang.

The development of parish work under the services of the Montfortians continued to grow and the status of Sintang Prefecture was increased to the Apostolic Vicariate of Sintang in 1955 and was re-appointed as a diocese in 1961. From 1939 to 1976, SMM Province of the Netherlands sent 38 missionaries to Indonesia. And from 1939 to 1980, Sintang Diocese had 36 parishes. The current development of parishes in the Sintang diocese cannot be separated from the initial struggle of the Montfortians who tirelessly carried out preaching and services for the people in the interior. Their joys and sorrows are lived in a spirit of surrender to Divine Providence and under the protection of Our Lady.

The vast territory of the Sintang diocese and the difficult field of work of the Montfortians caused them to be willing for weeks to carry out the model of preaching and pastoral ministry known as "turne." The unique atmosphere of villages in the interior made the missionaries forged to become adaptive individuals. They must be prepared to eat sparsely, sleep in uncomfortable places, and have inadequate health problems.

With the independence of the Sintang Diocese and the transfer of the baton from the leadership of SMM to indigenous bishops and Sintang diocesan priests, SMM slowly left the parishes to be handled by the Sintang diocesan priests. In addition, during the leadership of Father. Lam Van den Boorn (1973-1977), Sintang opened himself up to cooperating with missionaries from other congregations, namely the priests of the Congregation for Missions (CM) and the Congregation for the Oblates of Mary Immaculata (OMI). Undeniably, these events then prompted SMM Indonesia to think of a typical Montfortian form of work.

Expansion of Works

A milestone in the history of the Montfortian's Mission that should be noted is the expansion of the work to the Diocese of Ruteng. Since its presence in Indonesia, the entire dynamics of SMM services have been centered in Sintang Diocese. Good cooperation and communication between Fr. Superior Regional, Fr. Piet Derckx and Bishop of Ruteng Mgr. Eduardus Sangsung, SVD made an agreement to accept SMM's presence in Ruteng Diocese and manage a new parish, namely Poco Parish, about 11 km from the diocese center and Ruteng town. Poco Parish later took the name St. Montfort as patron of the parish. The blessing and inauguration of the St. Montfort Poco Parish Church took place on December 31, 1999. Fr. Kondradus Hancu became the first parish priest in Poco.

And exactly a year before and when SMM celebrates 75 years of its presence in the motherland, SMM accepts three parishes as fields for its pastoral work. First, the Parish of St. Montfort PIR Butong and Petrus Kanisius Parish, Kandui. St. Parish Montfort PIR Butong blessed Mgr. A. Sutrisnaatmaka, MSF on September 1, 2013, and the name “St. Montfort” as the name of the patron of the parish marks the beginning of the definitive presence of SMM's pastoral work on the land of Palangka Raya. At the same time, it was also handed over to the St. Parish SMM. Petrus Kanisius Parish was previously served by the Muara Teweh Parish pastoral team. Second, in October 2014, SMM received St. Parish. Antonius, Mbeling, Ruteng Diocese. Father. John Suri, SMM was appointed as his parish priest with the assistance of Father Fransiskus Borgias, SMM.

The wider pastoral field of SMM is an opportunity to expand the "Kingdom of Jesus Christ through Mary", but on the other hand it is a test for "Resilient, Responsive, and Responsible".


Opening the Indigenous Montfortian Formation

The development of the Montfortian's Mission was more visible when SMM started its formation in Indonesia. The presence of the Dutch SMM missionaries in the period 1965-1975 experienced the addition of a fresh and enthusiastic young workforce. At the same time, however, many pioneer missionaries decided to return to the Netherlands, mainly for health reasons. The phenomenon of the coming and going of missionaries gave birth to an idea in some missionaries to open a special SMM formation for native candidates. It is undeniable that this idea received a strong enough challenge from some missionaries who felt there was no need to educate native montfortans. This comes from the assumption that the presence of SMM in Indonesia is not to find new members but to carry out missionary work. In addition, there are concerns that the native montfortans cannot thrive and find it difficult to walk independently. These pessimistic thoughts do not just come. The situation and condition of the mission's work, which is broad and difficult, is also taken into consideration.

However, a bright spot occurred in the November 1977 deliberations. The participants agreed to accept the native candidates and prepare a plan for the opening of the novitiate which would require permission from the Superior General and the election of a master to be taken by the Pater Province of the Netherlands under the approval of the Council of Generals. The first candidate is a Brother. To accommodate this plan, Father. Regional Leader, who was then occupied by Father. Lam van den Boorn, wrote a letter to Father. Hub Somers, the Dutch Provincial, and Father. Gen. asking for permission to open a novitiate in Putussibau and appoint Father. Wim Peeters as master, as well as Father Janus van der Vleuten as socius. On December 8, 1979, the newly established novitiate was officially opened. After running for about 4 years, the novitiate was moved to Sintang, right on the Durian River.

Since the Diocese of Sintang had opened a major seminary in Bandung, where Father Piet Derckx was rector, the idea arose to move the novitiate to Bandung. Father Piet was then asked by the regional council to think about how the formation of Montfortian would take if he was transferred to Bandung: joining the priests of the Sintang diocese or opening their own novitiate. Father. Piet's experience dealing with candidates for priests from the Sintang diocese and two SMM postulants in one house shows that this pattern is not suitable and effective. The SMM formation commission then considered this fact and thought of providing their own house for the SMM novitiate. With the assistance of the Dutch provincial council, the plan to move the novitiate went well. Since 1985, the SMM Novitiate was moved from Sintang to Bandung.

The commencement of the novitiate in Bandung was followed by incessant pastoral vocations. Those who are trusted to handle this are starting to actively go to various places to promote SMM and hope that as many young people as possible are interested in joining SMM. However, the development of the formation was not without challenges. The situation of the increasing number of people entering requires a larger building and has an adequate capacity. On the other hand, the generalate questioned many regions that wanted to build their scholar, while the formators were not sufficient. However, the work pioneered by the Dutch montfortians continues to experience good development. A belief that this formation work proceeds in the blessing and provision of God himself.

Of course, those who complete their novitiate and take their first vows need a house to get through their scholastic period. With the help of funds from the Dutch province, a house located in Sukasuka was successfully purchased and renovated for the benefit of the scholasticate. In August 1988, the scholastic house in Suksuka was renovated and used as the first SMM scholastic house. Father Piet Derckx became the rector of the SMM scholastics, although he still served as a rector for the seminary of the Sintang diocese.

The good development in the number of those entering the novitiate made the regional councils need to think about a wider space. It's the same with scholastics. These two problems were then solved by buying a house located at Surya Sumantri Street nu. 83. This house has quite a lot of rooms because it is a boarding house for Maranatha Christian University students. The process of buying and transferring ownership of this house was completed on October 31, 1989. Subsequently, the building was renovated to meet the needs of the scholastic. The building was renovated in October 1991. To add to the formation staff, Father Nico Schneider left Kalimantan and became a staff formator at Surya Sumantri. This scholastic house was only blessed about half a year later, on February 5, 1992.

Furthermore, the dynamics and the unfavorable situation for the mentoring process for the montfortians made SMM leaders think about moving the novitiate to Flores, to be precise in the Ruteng diocese. This plan was later realized with the construction of the SMM novitiate building in Langgo, Ruteng. Then in 2002, the 13 novices of the 2001/2002 class continued their second novitiate year in Ruteng. Father Wim is still a master and accompanied by Father John Suri as socius. With the relocation of the novitiate to Ruteng, the old building on Gunung Kencana street nu.10 changed its function into the house of “KOMPAS” (Pastoral Community), which is a place for brothers who have completed their pastoral year and are pursuing postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Philosophy-Theology, Parahyangan University.

The history of the Montfortan Mission shows its growth as status changes. In 2003, through various considerations, the leaders of SMM, who at that time had been appointed to the status of Regional Delegation to General Delegation, decided to move the scholastic house to Malang. A year later, although the scholastic house was not finished, the brothers who finished Pastoral did not return to Bandung but immediately moved to Malang. Likewise, the brothers who had just made their first vows in Ruteng no longer went to Bandung, but went straight to Malang and started their studies at STFT Widya Sasana. For this purpose, Fr. Arnold Suhardi left Bandung in July 2004 and officially opened a new chapter in the life of the SMM formation in Malang. While waiting for the construction of the new scholasticate, the union then rented a house in Langsep Barat Kav. 40. In July 2005, the construction of the scholastic house was completed and was blessed by the Bishop of Malang, Mgr. Herman Joseph Pandoyoputro on August 14, 2005. Fr. Konradus Hancu was appointed the rector of the seminary which was later known as the Montfort Seminary "Pondok Wisdom"


Such is the history of the Montfortian's Mission in Indonesia. Began to attend to build missions in the Sintang area, followed by the development of categorical service models and opening formations for native montfortans. It is undeniable that all the dynamics of this development cannot be separated from Divine Providence and the prayer of Saint Montfort himself. In the spirit of Self-Dedication, the Indonesian Montfortans continue to work so that Jesus Christ and His Mother Mary are increasingly known and loved. "I am Yours alone, and all that I have I offer to You, dear Jesus through Mary, Your holy mother."