INTERVIEW WITH FR. HARDIYANTO PETRUS SX,
NEW MISSIONARY IN THE PHILIPPINES.
Father Hardiyanto Petrus Simon is a newly Xaverian missionary who has been assigned to the Philippines by the general direction since last month. After one year in a minor seminary, he joined to the family of Saint Conforti in Indonesia and made his first profession in 1996. After his philosophical studies, he was assigned to the international Xaverian theologate of the United States where he has lived for five years before being ordained deacon in 2005. He returned to Indonesia for one year before becoming priest in 2006. As priest, he has worked in Indonesia for seven years before being assigned to the Philippines. As new missionary living in our community, the team of theologasia.ph has met him for a friendly interview below.
1. Would you like to share with us something about your family and your motivations for the religious life?
My name is Petrus I am the youngest of a big family of eleven children (five sisters and five brothers). As my father and my mother are catholic, all my brothers and sisters are also Catholics. My father, who passed away two years ago, was a faithful catechist in my hometown. Of course, the religious vocation (as ours) is primarily God’s initiative and we are just invited to cooperate to God’s plan. I always consider my family as my minor seminary because of the upbringing received. We pray together, share our spiritual experiences, and read Gospels together. In this point of view, I can say that my vocation finds its roots in my own family. In the same upbringing, I grew up until when I decided to join the Xaverian Missionaries in 1994. After my formation in my country, I was assigned to the Xaverian international theologate of the United Stated of America where I finished my theological studies. My first motivation remains my faith in Jesus Christ; it is that faith that pushes me to go everywhere full of trust that Jesus is the one who sends me. If our religious motivations are not rooted in Jesus, soon or later, things will collapse because we are like someone who builds a huge house on sands without foundations.
2. Your first assignment as Xaverian priest was your own country Indonesia. How did you live your “missionary vocation” among Indonesian people?
My missionary adventure started in the United Stated as student of theology. I do not mind affirming that the formation I received there is helpful to my work as missionary today. Apostolate, theological studies and the contact with several cultures have shaped my personality to undergo great responsibilities for the sake of God’s people. After my diaconate ordination, I went to Indonesia for my exposure as deacon. I worked and went through different experiences in pastoral ministries. I did a good experience in Indonesia where I got the opportunity to work with great God’s men as Frs. Monaci, Mateo Rebecci, Marini, Laurenzi, Bruno Orru and many other good people. My first experience in Mentawai Island was really challenging because we faced many difficult situations in that area wherein there was not even electricity at that time. It was not easy, but this is the real mission for me. Just after my priestly ordination, I was officially assigned by our general direction in Indonesia. Being missionary in his own country like Indonesia is really challenging because in Indonesia we have almost 7000 languages and cultures that differ from one place to another. As young priest, the Xaverian in Indonesia assigned me in another part of my country where I was obliged to learn everything: language, culture and how to relate to people; you understand now that being missionary in your own country at times may be challenging.
3. As missionary in Indonesia, surely you have worked with Muslims in different ways; we would like to know how can we be missionary among Muslims?
Muslim is a good religion and we have many similarities with them; we have something to learn from them, as also they have to learn from us. We have just to respect each other as we have different ways of conceiving the same reality who is God. I did a wonderful experience among Muslim because among them, you do not need to teach, but to preach by your way of living. Among Muslims, I found and made good friends with whom we share and keep in touch right now.
4. After your experience in Indonesia, you were assigned to a new country: the Philippines, where you will learn language and culture. What are your feelings, impressions and approach of Filipino people?
I heard a lot about Filipino cultures through Medias and many people, these are all the stereotypes of Filipino people. For me I believe that God has sent me here in order to learn from Filipino people and to live with them. For this first year, I would like to dedicate all my life to learn Filipino values and language; because at times as missionary, we are ready to teach than to learn. My first aim is to know Tagalog, because without language you cannot communicate with people; for this, I am grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to learn the local language for one year. When I was assigned in Mentawai I met Fr. Monaci who told me: “as new missionary, you need at least five years to learn from local people before engaging yourself in teaching them. Before five years, you are just a tourist among them.” I am going to try my best to live first among Filipino people more as student than teacher.
5. Do you have a particular message?
I have no particular message to address to you; I enjoy and will enjoy my life in this community of theology student not as assistant, but just as Tagalog student. My superior Father James sx has told me something very important: “Petrus, for this year no commitment here and there; just focus on local language.”
Interview realized by theologasia.ph team