The solemnity of the Assumption, August 15, 2017, was a day of very special celebration in Indonesia as two sons from the Dayak Tribe, an indigenous people of Borneo (Kalimantan) were ordained. Fabianus Rikardus and Franciskus Kebry were ordained by the Bishop of Surabaya, Vincentius Sutikno Wisaksono.
They are not the first young men from this tribe to be ordained, but as always, their celebration of their first Mass in their homeland was a very moving event.
For a long period of the time the members of the Dayak Tribe were known as headhunters. After the arrival of Christianity that traditional habit was cast aside. Today, most of the members of this tribe have embraced the Christian faith and have sent “laborers into the harvest” Fr. Kebry and Fr. Fabi are now numbered among the many laborers that have come forth from this tribe.
A week after their ordination the new Missionaries, Fathers Kebry and Fabi, came back to Kelam and Nanga Serawai, their home country, located in West Kalimantan. There they celebrated the Holy Eucharist for the first time. As is the custom, their arrival provided the occasion for a traditional procession and celebration. Indeed, upon receiving news of their arrival, a large group of people from the surrounding villages welcomed Fr. Franciskus Kebry CM and Fr. Fabianus Rikardus CM. Many of these people were clothed in the traditional dress of the tribe. There was a pause in the procession and the chief of the Dayak tribe gave a sword to Fr. Kerby who then cut some stalks of sugar cane (a symbol of having successfully engaged in the process that led to the priesthood). Fr. Fabianus Rikardus CM was then invited to come forward and step over an egg (a symbol of the birth of a “new leader”).
After this traditional welcome, both Fr. Kebry and Fr. Fabi began the celebration of the Holy Eucharist surrounded by their families, friends, relatives, and many faithful as well as people from other religious beliefs. For the members of the Dayak Tribe, the presence of new missionaries is seen as a blessing that fills them with joy and happiness and also gives them a sense of pride. Hopefully, the witness of these new priests will continue to inspire the people of this tribe, especially the younger members.
The first assignment for Fr. Franciskus Kebry CM is to minister as assistant pastor in Pontianak, Western Kalimantan. aFr. Fabianus Rikardus will serve as assistant pastor in Batulicin, Southern Kalimantan.
Fr. Rafael Armada, CM
Edited for publication:
Charles T. Plock, CM
Eastern Province, US