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Jan. 20, 2004 • Volume 13 Number 9

Indonesian Jesuit Sees Hope Amid Disaster

The dispatches he has received from brother Jesuits doing relief work in the tsunami-devastated areas of South Asia describe hellish scenes.

Yet Rev. Robertus Bambang Rudianto, SJ, an Indonesian Jesuit studying at the Graduate School of Social Work, says he trusts in God, and hopes a renewed spirit of common humanity may rise from the ruins in regions like Bandeh Aceh that have been torn by inter-religious strife.

"When we have a disaster, we are not divided by religion or by sect," Fr. Rudianto said last week. "We are human, the same. God always cares. There is none of this, 'You are Muslim,' 'You are Christian, 'You are Hindu.'

"This disaster reminds us we are one family. As human beings, we need to, and should, respect each other. We need others. Those who have lost everything cannot be consoled. But there is still hope. They are not alone."

Fr. Rudianto is from Java, a part of Indonesia that was not affected by the tsunami, but friends from the Indonesian Jesuit province are helping direct Jesuit Refugee Service efforts in areas hit hard by the disaster.

"The Jesuits are doing the most helpful things, helping people not only to survive, but to see the future," he said. "The urgent thing is to bury the dead, and to help the living. Jesuits are helping the most needy."

From his vantage point in America, Fr. Rudianto said, he will pray for the disaster victims and for Jesuit relief efforts, and he encouraged donations to the Jesuit Refugee Service through its Web site [www.jesref.org/].

Fr. Rudianto offers Mass in Japanese on the third Sunday of the month in Somerville, and in Indonesian on the fourth Sunday of the month in Rochester, NH.

In the wake of the Asian disaster, the outpouring of charity by Americans he has met in his parish work has touched him.

"I'm really very impressed with all the American people's concern over this," he said. "It's a good picture of the international community working together for a purpose." -Mark Sullivan

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