Indonesia's seminarian-doctor serves as frontline health worker during pandemic

Brother Albertus Adiwenanto Widyasworo (Photo supplied)

“God can use me more than usual,” said Brother Albertus Adiwenanto Widyasworo, a doctor who is studying for the priesthood in Indonesia.

In the midst of the pandemic, Brother Albertus served as a frontline health worker.

Born in Yogyakarta, Central Java, on Sept. 7, 1985, Brother Albertus, 36, is the second of two children.

His father is a lecturer at a university in Jakarta while his mother is a retired federal bank employee and also teaches.

Before deciding to enter the seminary at the age of 30, the young man was already a general practitioner of medicine.

“It was my parents' wish for me to become a doctor,” he said. 

“I wanted to enter the seminary since I was a senior high school student,” he added, “but I followed my parents’ desire.”

He graduated from the medical faculty of Diponegoro University, Semarang, Central Java, in 2009 and in the same year took the oath as a doctor.

“After graduating, I worked for six years at St. Carolus Hospital in Jakarta," he said.

He said that before he entered medical school he had an agreement with his parents. “If I graduate from medicine, they would allow me to enter the seminary," he said.

After graduation, he worked at the hospital for six years while negotiating with his family to allow him to study for the priesthood.

“I had been negotiating with my family for a long time,” he said. 
 

Brother Albertus Adiwenanto Widyasworo with his parents. (Photo supplied)

In 2015, he entered the seminary in the Archdiocese of Jakarta and lived at St Paul's Seminary. He is now taking up his master's degree in Theology.

With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, especially in Jakarta, in July, Brother Albertus decided to volunteer as a doctor at Wisma Samadi Retreat House.

"I heard that Wisma Samadi provides a place for people who are infected with coronavirus to self-isolate," he said.

“I visited patients and made sure they were fine and their condition was stable,” he said. He also prescribed medicine, recorded the patient’s progress, and scheduled their swab tests.

Brother Albertus also trained volunteers, including seminarians, to properly care for the sick while also following health protocols.

To ensure that he was not infected by the virus, the seminarian-doctor underwent a weekly test.

He ended his volunteer work at the end of August. Wisma Samadi Retreat House also ended its quarantine program.

Brother Albertus said he received a lot of encouragement from Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, archbishop of Jakarta.

"The cardinal asked me to continue my medical profession and to extend my doctor's registration permit," he said.
 

Brother Albertus Adiwenanto Widyasworo with friends and colleagues at the hospital. (Photo supplied)

Aside from his seminary studies, Brother Albertus goes to St. Carolus Hospital every week to visit patients with HIV.

He said HIV patients influenced his decision to enter the seminary. “They need not simply doctors, but also friends to share their lives and struggles,” he said.

“God can work even more optimally through me if I take the life as a priest in Jakarta archdiocese,” he said, adding that “God can use me more than usual if I am a priest and a doctor.”

He said that even as a doctor he does not want to be treated differently in his community.

“When I entered the diocesan seminary, I did not think about my medical profession anymore,” he said. “I thought that God gave me this profession and I returned it to Him."

He said he expects to be ordained as a priest by the end of 2023. - Emiliana Saptaningsih / RVA News