By Emiliana Saptaningsih | RVA News
Indonesian President Joko Widodo says Catholics can adapt quickly as he officially opened the Ecclesiastical Choir Fest (PESPARANI) in Jakarta on October 2.
Appreciating the initiative, the Indonesian president said that the virtual choir fest proves that Catholics can adapt quickly, setting an example of adapting to new habits, preparing themselves for the transition from pandemic to endemic.
"Even though our nation is in a difficult situation, we must not lose hope, and we must continue to pray and try, continue to spread enthusiasm and optimism, spread kindness and care," Widodo said.
The second PESPARANI was supposed to be held in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara Province, in 2020. However, it was cancelled due to Covid-19.
The 2021 Pesparani is organized virtually and is called Indonesian Catholic Virtual Creation (KVKI). This activity was marked with the opening Mass attended by participants both in-person and online.
"The pandemic limits our mobility and activities, but it must not eliminate our creativity," said Widodo in his opening remark.
"We must remain enthusiastic and productive in carrying out useful activities by utilizing new ways, using new media platforms that can involve many people but remain safe from the spread of COVID-19," the president said.
On this occasion, he also invited all Indonesian Catholics wherever they are to take care of themselves, care for their family, relatives, and neighbors, following health protocols.
Representing the Indonesian Bishops Conference, Ignasius Cardinal Suharyo emphasized two things in KVKI's current activities, namely nationalism and solidarity.
"This event instills the spirit of nationalism by promoting the passion and love for the homeland that was inherited to all of us by the nation's founders and the pioneers of the Catholic church in Indonesia," said Suharyo, the archbishop of Jakarta.
Nationalism is closely related to events initiated by PESPARANI, which always includes October 28 that coincides with the day of the Youth's Pledge.
"We deserve to be grateful because one of the superior characteristics of our nation is solidarity," the cardinal said.
One study shows that the Indonesian people ranked number one out of 146 countries in terms of willingness to give. In terms of social solidarity, Indonesia ranked sixth out of 167 countries, he explained.
He also reiterated that the nation's character of plurality must be cared for and preserved without neglecting it.
"One way to develop and nurture this character is to seek faith inspiration that is uniquely Catholic. We can read that inspiration in the Bible, of course, where it is described that our God is one who cares," the prelate said.
Willingness to share and promote social solidarity, according to the cardinal, is the manifestation of caring, not just driven by human motivation alone but through faith's inspiration.
"We want to show the face of the God we believe in, as a God who cares through our solidarity," he said.
The chairman of the KVKI Committee, Albertus Susetyo Adi Prabowo, said that this year's KVKI had the theme of "Fraternity amid a Pandemic.
"KVKI's purpose among others is to develop digital creative capacity and advance the understanding and appreciation of the scriptures for the young Catholics," said Prabowo.
Meanwhile, Minister of Religion Yaqut Cholil Qoumas appreciated saying KVKI is a religious, social activity packaged in a national nuance with various religious moderation.
"Through this KVKI, I hope that all of us and Catholics, in particular, can produce abundant energy to strengthen harmony both within Catholics and among people of other religions," he said.
The program promotes social solidarity as a beacon of light to illuminate the hearts and minds of people and be grateful for all God's gifts, he added.
In his homily during the opening Mass, Father Paulus C. Siswantoko said the program was not just a competition but an expression of religiosity.
"KVKI is not just a competition, but it is a living expression of faith, which allows us to survive, to be together, to be able to carry out activities despite all limitations," he said. "With living faith, we can spread God's love that resounds everywhere."
KVKI is an opportunity that God has given to feed on love. It is a resonance of His love. It needs to echo in 34 provinces in Indonesia.
KVKI will end on October 28 by the Indonesian Vice President Mar'uf Amin to coincide with the commemoration of the Youth Pledge Day.
"It is hoped that this KVKI activity can be a moment of creative innovation for LP3KN while reinvigorating the love for the nation and contributing to the consolation of Indonesians wherever they are," wrote LP3KN in its press release.
The 2021 virtual Pesparani takes place from October 2 to 28. More than 200 participants from 32 provinces in Indonesia will join.