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Ledalero, Flores, Indonesia

In the Service of God and Humanity
for 70 years

My dear brothers and sisters,

Today is a day of great rejoicing. We rejoice as we celebrate the great solemnity of the assumption of Mary. We rejoice with our 17 brothers who will profess perpetual vows in the Society of the Divine Word. And we rejoice as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of this seminary.

But, as we all know, everything in life, everything in this world is a gift from God. Mary’s assumption to heaven, the consecration of oneself to God, the privilege of participating in the formation of those called to the religious missionary vocation – all of these, too, are God’s gifts. Our celebration today, then, is a celebration in thanksgiving. Today we come together to thank God for his gifts to us – above all, the gift of the sacrament of the body and blood of his Son, which we celebrate in the Eucharist.

See: Fr. Pernia's Homily >>

St. Paul Major Seminary Ledalero was founded on May 5th 1937.This year it reaches its 70th Anniversary. It was built on a hill called Ledalero. According to the local language, Ledalero literally means a place where the sun is leaning (LEDA = leaning; LERO = sun). Figuratively, it has the sense of a bright beacon that both draws everybody towards it and guides like a beacon in a lighthouse. In the last 70 years Ledalero has become a source of light for many people in the region, in Indonesia and in the world in general through the work of its men and women. More than one thousand priests have received their education and formation in Ledalero. They are now working all over Indonesia and overseas. Thousands of lay people have graduated from this institution and they are occupying various positions in society in the capacity of teachers, professors, journalists, politicians, businessmen and so on.

On December 12th 1992, a devastating earthquake followed by a tsunami hit the entire island of Flores. Many people lost their lives and major infrastructures were destroyed. Ledalero, which was close to the epicenter of the earthquake (recorded 6,8 in Richter Scale), experienced severe damage. Around 70 percent of the buildings were collapsed; people were traumatized and it disrupted the whole formation and educational activities. The earthquake urged the SVD of Ende Province, to search the Will of God behind the tragedy. After a long reflection, it was decided that the formation system had to be changed. Seminarians were divided into small groups and they lived in small units of residence. From that time on, seminarians have been housed in eight units with an average of 30-40 seminarians with two priests as formators. There are five units of residence inside the main campus and three are outside. Efforts have been made to move the outside units into the main campus. However, due to the lack of fund, this plan is yet to be realized.

The reconstruction of St. Paul Seminary took a long time. For a couple of years seminarians lived in temporary barracks. The reason to postpone the reconstruction was to prioritize the reconstruction of lay people's houses, public buildings, churches and other public infrastructures. The reconstruction of the seminary was almost completed only after 10 years. On the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, December 12th 2002, the main chapel and other buildings in the campus were consecrated by the late Archbishop Abdon Longinusda Cunha, the Archbishop of Ende Diocese.

Source: Ledalero Newsletter Special Edition*