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Indonesia: Last Dutch missionary dies aged 82

Father Albertus Bernardus Gerardus Joseph Smit died on Aug 11 in Indonesia (Photo credit: Manado Diocese's Social Communications Commission)

Father Albertus Bernardus Gerardus Joseph Smit, the last Dutch missionary to serve in the Indonesian Diocese of Manado, province of North Sulawesi, passed away on August 11. He was 82.

"He was the last Dutch-born missionary in the diocese of Manado. Now, we have no more missionaries from the Netherlands," said Sacred Heart Father Johanis Mangkey, former provincial superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Indonesia.

Smit was born on March 22, 1940, in Goor, Netherlands, to Johan J.B. Smit and Gerrit Dina Siemerink. Since 1967, he worked in the diocese as a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus-Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis, or MSC.

He had spent most of his time in seminary formation. He taught Latin and wrote a book called "Elementa Linguae Latinae" (Basic Aspects of Latin), which was used as a textbook.

During his missionary presence, Father Smith served in two parishes, namely St. Parish. Antonius Padua Tara-Tara from 1967 to 1985 and the Parish of St. Antonius Padua Tataaran from 1985 to 1987. He also served as Chancellor of Karmel, Kakaskasen Tomohon, since 1988.

Testifying about Father Smit, the Sacred Heart priest, Yance Mangkey, said he was a missionary who served tirelessly.

"His whole life was devoted to the seminarians at the Kakaskasen Middle Seminary. Many people have felt the love and care from his hands. Many of his students are now excellent and qualified brothers, priests, and deacons," said Mangkey. 

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Congregation started its mission in Indonesia in 1903 with the arrival of missionaries from the Netherlands in Langgur, Maluku, East Indonesia. 

Between 1920 and 1967, as many as 72 missionaries from the Netherlands, Germany, and Brazil came to Sulawesi, an Indonesian island east of Borneo. Father Smit was one of them.

The Indonesian Province of the congregation was set up on October 6, 1971, and now has more than 300 members. Their work and mission are spread across 13 in the country.


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