From Bantul, May 8, 1972, born a figure we know today, Father Yohanes Dwi Harsanto (also fondly called Father Santo), who gave his life to service “OMK” (Orang Muda Katolik – Catholic Youth) world. Romo Santo started his elementary to high school education in Yogyakarta, and continued to St. Peter Canisius Mertoyudan Seminary Magelang, Tahun Rohani Sandjaja Jangli Seminary Semarang, St. Paul High Seminary Yogyakarta, then studied at Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta in the Faculty of Theology and Faculty of Pontifical Theology at the same time. Father Santo was ordained by Mgr. Ign. Suharyo on July 12, 2000 in the church of St. FX Kidul Loji in Yogyakarta. Since January 1, 2008 he assumed position of Executive Secretary of the Bishops` Commission for Youth Conference of Indonesia (KomKep KWI). He is also active in prison pastoral communities, contributor of www.katolisitas.org, teaches at school / personal evangelism courses, as well as being a moderator of PDKK Bina Nusantara University students. This year, KomKep KWI will publish his book on personal pastoral guide of OMK Indonesia titled Sahabat Sepeziarahan (Friends in One Pilgrimage). With this book, hopefully all OMK communities across Indonesia dioceses can have same understanding and work towards common goal.
Let us read the interesting story of Father Santo’s involvement in developing OMK world.
1. How did you begin to engage in OMK organization?
Before entering the seminary, at elementary school age, I followed my parents who were active in the community and parish. I joined the altar servant community, Legio Mariae, PDKK in high school, and Mudika Emanuel at Sacred Heart Parish Pugeran. I also joined the Catholic student organization in the public schools and Catholic student organization in Yogyakarta so that I became more familiar with OMK variety of services. After entering high seminary, I chaperoned FKPK (Catholic Student Contact Forum) Yogyakarta. I become more in love with OMK pastoral.
I am challenged to chaperon OMK because since I was young, I was accompanied by mentors, brothers, sisters and priests. I feel grown. I compare myself to other friends who were not active in the community, they did not grow, and some even go to jail, and left the Catholic Church. I am grateful to grow in the Church and grow stronger because of joining a community, with the guidance from counselors when I was younger. I also like to read spiritual books. I am interested in the word of God, "What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives?" (cf. Mt 16:26). And again, Jesus was always young. He did not die of old age. The Church has always been young with the young Jesus. When taking part in the World Youth Day, the Asian Youth Day, Indonesian Youth Day, we are reminded of the message from Pope John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis and the bishops that Catholic Youth are a valuable treasure to Christ in His Church. (You can click www.vatican.va for reading Pope’s messages fot the youth)
2. According to you, what a difference of young people today compared to your days?
The atmosphere of my childhood and youth took place in between 1980 to 1990, lived in rural outskirts of Yogyakarta city. No hand phone, no latest technology inventions. I lived in the New Order`s political future, where all the information is controlled government and not much of other information source beside RRI and TVRI. Most of the atmosphere is different compared to atmosphere of young people in big cities in this era. My spirit of learning was challenged with the little amount of information. I diligently read anything and like to go to libraries and bookstores. Nowadays, book can be downloaded in the gadget. Content of Vatican library can easily be downloaded from www.vatican.va, right?
However, there is one similarity between then and now: Young people are hungry for self-discovery, healthy relationships that are growing, and the right process to determine the future.
For Young Catholics (OMK), their challenge before and today is the same: how to further grow in intimacy with Jesus Christ. OMK longs to meet with Christ as a divine person who live and grow,
strengthen, encourage, understand, push for growth.
3. Many judges Catholic Church being ancient/ too traditional, what is the Catholic Church`s efforts to face the world ripple? According to you, has the Catholic Church now embraced more young people?
The Catholic Church was established and secured by Jesus Christ. Christ is fully present and identifies Himself with His Church, the one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church. However, the Catholic Church as His body could not and do not want to betray the teachings of its head that is Christ. Because the teaching of the Church remains: to defend life from conception until natural death, defend conjugal fidelity, fight against selfishness and evil, willing to sacrifice self for the happiness of others, educate public conscience, have dialogue with others. It all means: to follow Christ completely for the sake of eternal salvation. This is ancient teachings according to selfish people. But the teaching of the Catholic Church is always right and has produced a lot of martyrs and saints, also in modern times. How to navigate these turbulent times safely is, to implement the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church that is Jesus Christ.
Since Pope St. John Paul II launched it in 1983, the Church has a "World Youth Day", "Asian Youth Day", "Indonesian Youth Day", also at the level of the diocese "Diocese Youth Day", even in parishes there are "Parish Youth Day". "Youth Days" was set in to have OMK in motion to gather together, to explore the Catholic faith. They meet with Christ and one another as children of Indonesian compatriots countrymen.
4. What needs to be done by OMK to embrace fellow atheists or believers but apathetic?
What should be done is that OMK should see Christ in prayer, the Eucharist and the other sacraments, and then meet with Christ in dialogue with one another and in service to the poor fellow. Way to embrace it to be in process together. Invite your friends even of other religions to visit and help the poor. In Jakarta there are some communities that you can take to help the growth of faith and an attitude of faith OMK. For example, the Community of Saint Egidio invites the poor for luncheon once every few weeks. You can meet people from other religions and even those who has doubts on God. You can learn a lot from servicing the poor. Because Christ immediate action is to help those in need then He pulled every heart to Him. Pope Francis asks us to do things with Christ, with the way "from inside" to “go outside". Greet others, so that we continue the hand of Christ to stroke and greet poor people in the broad and narrow sense. People are more touched with real attitude. Well, if then come up a question about the content of teachings faith, you can answer according to your religious beliefs and teachings of the Church. You can access the content www.katolisitas.org to deepen the teachings of the Catholic faith.
5. What characters should Catholic youth have?
Just go natural as young person that reflects the spirit of God: Happy, Optimistic, Dynamic (Gembira – Optimis - Dinamis).
6. What is Catholic Church responsibility in promoting the concept of nationalism?
Church provides civic education or political education at any time. Our Church makes a pastoral letter to respond to situations such as elections, drugs, saving the environment etc. But certainly, the Church believes and exists with young people to act as apostles of the digital age in the community.
7. Any Independence Day message for LOJF and Indonesia OMK?
Act according to the name you bear. If the name contains the word "Light" "Jesus" "Family", of course you will act according to its meaning. If the name is "Indonesian Catholic Youth", of course you will really be "people" (humans living in this era in this place, not animals, not angels), "young" (happy, optimistic, dynamic), and "Catholic" (one hundred percent Catholic, Jesus Christ inside) and "Indonesia" (one hundred percent Indonesian, loving compatriots from Sabang to Merauke, from Rote island to Miangas island. Be human with independent spirit!
Journalist: Lenny /Translator & Editor: Siska