Parish of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Putussibau

Parish Establishment
The ministry of missionaries in Putussibau had taken place long before the Putussibau parish was formed in 1939. Previously, in 1938, Putussibau had begun to be served by the SMFA sisters, who handled the Dutch East Indies government hospital. According to historical records, the first 3 nurses who served the Dutch East Indies Government Hospital in Putussibau were Sr. Xaveria, Sr. Bernadeta, and Sr. Dolorata. The Capuchin missionaries living in Bika also served up to Putussibau. At that time Putussibau was not yet a parish of its own.

In 1939, the Montfortian missionaries (SMM) arrived from the Netherlands after a long journey. They came from the Netherlands, at the official request of the Apostolic Vicar of Kalimantan, namely Mgr. Van Valenberg. The offer to the Congregation for the Society of Mary Montfortian to take part in the missionary work in West Kalimantan had occurred before but could only be realized in 1939, after obtaining approval from the Sacred Congregation for the spread of the faith (propaganda fide), which was started in its letter dated September 23, 1938. Borneo is a Capuchin mission area.

The first Montfortian missionaries to come to Indonesia were Br. Bruno, Father Linsen, and Father L'ortye. They used the Sibajak Sea ship from Marseille to Singapore and from Singapore, they took the ship “Khoen Hoa” to Pontianak. On 7 April 1939, they arrived in Pontianak. April 17, 1939, they headed for Sintang, along the Kapuas River and arrived in Sintang on April 20, 1939. On April 26, 1939, they headed for Bika which is approximately 900km away. They arrived at Bika on April 29, 1939. Bika was the first place of the SMM Mission in Indonesia. They lived amid a traditional Dayak community with various life habits. The missionaries began to work among the traditional Dayak tribes. Some are diligent in studying the local language, some are joining the community and drinking “saguer” and some are studying other cultures. In addition, mission activities are also carried out; training the choir, teaching, treating the sick, baptizing, etc.

As previously mentioned, in the Capuchin era, Putussibau was served by the priests of Bika. They served the Dayak tribe and opened schools in Melapi. The graduates of these schools then continue their education at “Standaardschool” at an agricultural school, or also at the Nyarumkop seminary. It is these children who are expected to become the core staff of the Putussibau Parish. Unfortunately, all the seminarians during the world war did not survive and stopped attending school except for one person, namely Alois Ding, who later became the first Indonesian Montfortian.

On June 10, 1939 – about two months after the Montfortians arrived in Bika – Father Linssen moved to Putussibau to serve with three SMFA sisters in the Putussibau area. The main basis for Father Linsen's move to Putussibau was to accompany the SMFA sisters who a year earlier (1938) had started to treat the Putussibau General Hospital at the request of the Dutch East Indies Government. On June 10, 1939, Father Linsen went to Putussibau at once to treat his injured leg and since then he has been living in Putussibau. In Putussibau, there are no churches and Priest’s buildings. As an inn, at first, Father Linsen used one of the rooms in a government-owned inn, called “Pasanggrahan”. However, because the place was not suitable, he moved to the pavilion of the controller's house. P. Linsen lived there until he found and bought the ranger's house. The house is more accurately called a cottage because it is only as big as one room and a small kitchen. Father Linsen called the Fathers the most polite and pleasant to visit. In his diary he wrote; "The floor is so damaged that every time a guest enters, the wardrobe immediately nods in a friendly manner".

At that time Putussibau City was only inhabited by Malays, Chinese, and some Europeans. At that time there were no Dayaks. Apart from his missionary duties for the Dayaks, Father Linssen had good relations with Malay officials because of the Dutch language courses and health courses he provided. This good relationship is supported by the nurses who work in the hospital.

As a Montfortian, Father Linssen lived alone, so Father Linssen regularly came home by bicycle to Bika to join his confreres. As a community, they share their experiences and strengthen each other by praying together. As a parish priest, Father Linssen tried to establish good relations with the Malay officials. He gives lessons in Dutch and health sciences.

First Dayak Priest Ordination
On June 10, 1942, news began to spread that a group of robbers from Japan was going home. Meanwhile, Controller Davijdt in Putussibau informed that starting at 3:00 p.m. 08.00 am, the phone contact with Bika has been cut off or is not picked up again. A resident named Jon Sin who had just returned from "cockfighting" also told me that he had seen ships sailing back and forth.

One important note during the Japanese occupation was the ordination of the first Dayak priest, Father Aloysius Ding SMM, son of Dayak Kayan Mendalam from Tanjung Kuda Village. His father was a farmer who acted as the village head. At that time, his entire family adhered to animist beliefs, but after Ding was ordained a priest, his father and mother were baptized. Fr. Alois Ding as he was called, on August 13, 1945, was given tonsura (shaving of the navel of the head) and low ordination by Mgr. Jamagutsi Bishop of Nagasaki. Two days later, on August 15, 1945, he received the ordination of a sub-diaconate, then on August 30, 1945, Father Ding received the ordination of a diaconate. Furthermore, on September 16, 1945, Fr. Aloysius Ding was ordained a priest by Mgr. Leven SVD Vicar Apostolic Flores. In his diary, P. Ding wrote: “ a month after the ordination, the monsignor gave us the jurisdiction to start working in the parish. Thus the neomis (new priests) were sent to various places throughout the Flores area. I stayed in the seminary so that I could continue my studies and studies. In between learning activities, I was also busy with Pastoral work…sometimes I rode horses for hours through mountainous areas and when I arrived at my destination, although I was very tired and sleepy, I immediately listened to the confessions of hundreds of people”.

Indigenous Missionaries Get To Work
In 1995, two brothers arrived to accompany Father Kees Smith's parochial pastoral work in Putussibau, namely Father Konradus Hancu, SMM, and Fr. Yohanes Gausana, SMM. In the same year, on August 15, 1995, the brothers Konradus Hancu, SMM, and Mateus Juang, SMM were ordained as deacons by Mgr. Isak Doera with 4 deacons for the priesthood of the Sintang diocese. The dedication ceremony was held at the Putussibau Parish Church. The ordination ceremony was carried out very lively. The procession is carried out starting from the Putra dormitory or the old Karya Budi Junior High School Building (now MTB Brothers).

One year later, March 17, 1996 Fr. Konradus hancu and Fr. Mateus Juang in Putussibau by Mgr. Bumbun, OFM.Cap. The ordination ceremony is also lively with dances. The parade started from the house of Mr. Rugin toward the Parish Church. The liturgy was lively coordinated by Br. Yohanes Gausana

Not long after, on July 29, 1996, Father Kees Smith, SMM returned to the Netherlands. His health was worsened, especially by the fact that he had rheumatism and his eyesight was severely impaired. The condition of his right eye could no longer be helped, so together with the leadership of the Dutch SMM, the decision was made that Father Kees Smith should stay in the Netherlands, even though he wanted to return to Indonesia

After Fr. Smith left on leave to the Netherlands, the Putussibau Parish was temporarily served by Fr. Mateus Juang, SMM. At that time, Father Konradus Hancu SMM also left for Flores to attend the inaugural mass of Father Stef Seli, SMM who had just ordained. On the way back from Flores to return to Putussibau, Father Konradus Hancu, SMM received a call from Fr. Piet Derckx, SMM-the leader of SMM Indonesia at that time- that he should become a parish priest to replace Father Smith. Fr. Kon was quite surprised and was about to refuse because he was too young and unprepared. But Father Piet Derckx, SMM remained in his decision. Father Konradus Hancu, SMM eventually became the first indigenous missionary to become Putussibau parish.