Xaverian Missionary Appointed New Bishop of Padang, Indonesia

Let us thank the Holy Father for placing his trust in the person of Fr. Vitus and the family of the Xaverian Missionaries. We join the whole Xaverian family in rejoicing and thanking the Lord; we assure elected Bishop Vitus Rubianto Solichin SX of our affection and prayers.

Fr. Fernando Garcia, General Superior Xaverian Missionaries

This is how, yesterday, the General Direction of the Xaverian Missionaries gave the news of the appointment of our confrere Fr. Vitus Rubianto Solichin as bishop of the Padang Diocese. Since becoming a Xaverian missionary, Fr. Rubianto has devoted much of his time to academic work in the field of Biblical studies – both as researcher and as teacher for the Biblical formation of many lay Christians, especially at the Driyarkara High School of Philosophy – and in the field of interreligious dialogue in Jakarta. He has edited several publications on Biblical subjects (see his CV).  Until his appointment as bishop, he has been Rector of the Xaverian Philosophical Scholasticate in Jakarta.

For the Xaverian Family, this event occurs during a particular time of reflection and renewal of our missionary commitment. We are celebrating the Xaverian Jubilee commemorating the approval of the First Constitutions (1921) and the writing of the Testament Letter by our Founder, Mons. Conforti. Moreover, in Indonesia, an archipelago that extends over almost two million square Km, includes 17,000 islands and is home to the largest Muslim population in the World, the Xaverian community celebrates the 70th year of presence since the arrival of the first Xaverian missionaries in this land.

After their expulsion from China, it was right in Padang, the provincial capital of Western Sumatra, where our missionaries first arrived in 1951. This diocese was “founded” by the Xaverians; in fact, her first two shepherds were our confreres Pasquale De Martino (as Apostolic Vicar) and then Raimondo Bergamin (first bishop). Dozens of Xaverians have dedicated their life to the evangelisation of the communities in many areas of the Island of Sumatra and in the archipelago of Mentawai. Some of their activities for human promotion and inculturation have marked the history of the local peoples. Many of these confreres are buried in the cemetery near the Biarai, the Xaverian Domus in Padang. 

It is not inappropriate, we believe, to interpret the appointment of Fr. Vitus as Bishop of Padang as a sign of the local Church’s journey towards Christian and missionary maturity. In all simplicity of heart, we also consider it to be a fruit of the work carried out by so many confreres either in the first proclamation of the Gospel or in fostering the growth of new Christian communities across the island of Sumatra. This event may likewise be understood as a call to go back to the roots of that qualified missionary work which has been done in so many communities of Sumatra, including the Mentawai islands and among the Nias. Certainly, going back to the roots does not mean viewing the work of past missionaries as relics and objects for museum exhibitions, nor repeating the same things our confreres accomplished 50, 60 or 70 years ago. Going back to the roots means to renew the missionary work of the Church with their same courage and passion for the Indonesian people; it means having that same creativity and boldness which supported the first missionaries and allowed them to accept with faith the not-easy challenges of their times; it means being convinced that those who do mission become much richer than those whom the mission is directed to, and that a Christian community which does not go out, does not lead outward, does not do mission, is bound to die.

We draw upon the words of Pope Francis to wish our confrere: “Let us not fear to undertake, with trust in God and great courage, a missionary option capable of transforming everything…” (October 22nd, 2017). Let us accompany with our prayer and friendship H. Exc. Mons. Vitus Rubianto Solichin SX. In his new mission, following the Good Shepherd, may he not be afraid to lead the sheep of Padang Diocese to outward pastures and mission, “For missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!” (Redemptoris Missio 2). Through the intercession of St. Guido M. Conforti and our prayer, we entrust Bishop Vitus and his new family, the diocese of Padang, to Mary, Queen of the Apostles. 

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