One of the Church’s most austere orders has opened its fourth monastery in the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia.
We’re talking about the Trappists, who are Benedictines of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance. The name “Trappist” comes from the fact that the first monastery of this religious order was the abbey of La Grande Trappe in Normandy, France.
The monks of the Trappist order are cenobites—that is, they live in community—which differentiates them, for example, from the Carthusian monks, who are hermits or anchorites, which is to say, they live mostly in solitude.
The Carthusians, by the way, are traditionally considered the most austere order in the Church.
The Trappists may not be associated with the same degree of rigor as the Carthusian charism, since they are different vocations, but they also live in great austerity and simplicity.
The Trappist monks and nuns have 15 monasteries in the USA, and are often known for products such as preserves or bread that they themselves produce to support their communities.
The order had already been in Indonesia for decades, with other monasteries founded there in 1953, 1987, and 1996. Asia News reports that the foundation of the fourth and most recent Trappist monastery in the largest Muslim country on the planet took place this past July 14 in Penggadungan. It is a small town three and a half hours from the city of Ketapang, in an isolated area surrounded by forest.
The superior of the new community will be Fr. Mikael Santana, with three monks assisting him.
The property on which the monastery was built was purchased decades ago by the then bishop of the diocese, Bishop Blasius Pujaraharja. The inauguration of the monastery was presided over by the present bishop, Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi, and the blessing of the premises was done by the bishop and by Fr. Isaac Majoor, a Dutchman, superior of the Trappists in the Konigshoeven abbey in Tilburg.
Bishop Pius declared it a blessing “to have a Trappist monastery in our diocese” and emphasized that “prayers are really needed” for the world.
Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, after China, India, and the USA, with a population of approximately 275,400,000, of which only about 2.9% are Roman Catholic; 87% are Muslims.