Bishop of Weetebula on Sumba Island

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Bishop-elect to prioritize faith formation in traditional-religion area

Redemptorist Father Edmund Woga, who has been appointed bishop of Weetebula on Sumba Island, says he will prioritize faith formation of Catholics in his diocese, where traditional religion is still influential.

ij_weetebula_sumba_island.gifPope Benedict XVI on April 4 appointed the administrator of Weetebula as bishop of the same diocese in southern Indonesia. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Indonesia, informed him of the appointment the same day.

“I was surprised when Archbishop Girelli called me up and asked if I was willing to be bishop of Weetebula,” bishop-elect Woga, 58, recalled. He gave me one day to think about it, but I needed two days.” His ordination and installation date has not been decided yet, he said in a phone interview.

Speaking about his priorities as head of the diocese, he said: “I will focus on faith formation of my people whose knowledge of their faith is still limited. I hope to help them know more about the faith so that they will not just be able to memorize the Our Father, Hail Mary and Apostles´ Creed.”

He acknowledged the significance of Marapu, the traditional Sumbanese religion, in people´s lives here. “A special encounter with this traditional religion can help local Catholics deepen their faith” since it has values similar values to Christianity, the bishop-elect said.

According to 2003 Church data, about 260,000 of the island´s 603,305 people were Protestants then, 200,000 were followers of Marapu, 120,000 were Catholics and 20,000 were Muslims.

Bishop-elect Woga also promised he will continue programs to build basic Christian communities that had been carried out by his predecessor, Divine Word Bishop Girulfus Kherubim Pareira, who now serves as bishop of Maumere on neighboring Flores Island. The bishop-elect said he hopes all Catholic priests and Religious serving his diocese will work together to deepen local Catholics´ faith.

A local priest, Father Kristianus Bernardus Breda of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Waikabubak, capital of West Sumba district, said he announced the appointment to parishioners during Masses on April 4 and 5. “People are very happy to hear the news” because they have had no bishop for almost a year, the priest said over the phone.

He added that he supports the bishop-elect´s plan to prioritize faith formation of local Catholics.

Bishop-elect Woga was born on Nov. 17, 1950 in Hewokloang, Flores. He studied at St. Paul Major Seminary in Kentungan, Yogyakarta, from 1971 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He then served for about a year as director of the Religion Teachers´ Training Institute in Waingapu, East Sumba district, and another year as parish priest of St. Clemens Church in Katikuloku, West Sumba district.

From 1979-1982, he was director of the Pada Dita Boarding in Waingapu, Sumba. He joined the Redemptorists in 1980.

From 1982, he studied at the Sankt Augustin institute in Germany, where he obtained a licentiate in missiology two years later. From 1986 to 1992, he studied fundamental theology in Monaco.

From 1993, he served as professor of missiology at Wedhabakti Theological Institute in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. In 2002, he became provincial superior of the Redemptorists in Indonesia, based at the congregation´s headquarters in Sumba, until he became diocesan administrator of Weetebula in 2008.

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