Global Jesuits open up about possibility: Baskara T. Wardaya, S.J.
Mission Week Feature Series
Country of Origin
My country of origin is Indonesia and I belong to the Indonesian Province of the Society of Jesus.
Marquette Ministry Focus
I came to Marquette University in early January 2022 as the holder of this year’s Francis Wade Chair. During the spring and fall semesters of 2022, I will teach history, focusing on Southeast Asia.
Which ministry is prioritized in your home country?
As you probably know, in Indonesia the Catholic community is a minority religious group. Indonesia has 270 million people, and the number of Catholics is only about 3% of the population. The Society of Jesus is one of the Catholic religious groups serving the Church and the nation. We number about 350-strong, and that includes priests, brothers and scholastics (Jesuit seminarians). Realizing our small number and the big size of the nation’s population, we focus on educational institutions, such as high schools and higher educational institutions. At the same time, some of the Indonesian Jesuits also work in the parishes, those in urban settings as well as in remote parts of the country. In addition, we also conduct retreats, both in person and online.
How has the Society’s international focus changed your mind to what is possible?
The Society of Jesus has been an international institution from the beginning. As Jesuits, we belong to an individual province, but at the same time we are also part of an international body. For us in Indonesia, the international dimension of the Society was clear from the beginning, as many of our first Jesuits came from abroad. This awareness gave us the idea that the Society and its mission are not limited by national boundaries. The Society is an international body, as is the Catholic Church itself. Consequently, we open ourselves to serve people outside of our own province, and send Indonesian Jesuits to serve in many other countries.
How has being open to possible changes shifted the focus of your ministry?
There are three points that we should highlight. First, many of us are fully aware that in the beginning of our history, we received much help from outside. That included manpower, funding, and education. Now it is time for us to return all those favors, although not necessarily to the people who had helped us. We serve people anywhere. Because we have received so much, we now want to be equally generous with others. Secondly, one of the implementations of this spirit of giving back is the fact that the Indonesian province provides support and opportunities for scholastics from other countries to study in ours. Thirdly, in Indonesia we have a ministry called Jesuit Refugee Service Indonesia, or JRS-Indonesia, which is part of the international Jesuit Refugee Service. Through this we help refugees from many countries, including from the Middle East, Myanmar, and other parts of the world. Importantly, this kind of service reminds us of the international dimension of Jesuit ministries. We serve our fellow Indonesians, but at the same time we are also ready to assist people from anywhere in the world, even those who are not Christians.