Society Matters | Volume 33 No. 1 | Autumn 2023

Volume 33 No. 1 | Autumn 2023 6 Society Matters Church and mosque in Indonesian village a dream come true for Fr Boni When Fr Boni Buahendri SVD saw the need for both a church and a mosque in his Indonesian home-village, he joined with others in setting about fulfilling a dream of how to build them. “The project came about in response to the need of the people in the village,” he says. Compang village in West Manggarai Regency on the island of Flores, is home to mostly Catholics, but there is also a significant minority population of Muslims. The remote location meant that the people were in dire need of worship facilities. “The people come from two religions and they live side by side, with both communities getting on very well, and even sharing significant religious celebrations,” he says. “For the Catholics, the main parish is very far away, so they desperately needed a church in the village. “And to have a simple, small mosque in that place as well is really something.” Fr Boni, who is currently serving as parish priest in Brisbane at St Mark’s Parish, Inala, says the Catholics and Muslims in Compang village are descended from the same ancestors and so everyone is considered family. “I am Catholic, but my uncle and aunt are Muslims, so I have to think and dream and pray for both,” he says. It took four years to raise the necessary funds to build the church and mosque. Fr Boni worked together with a network of friends and classmates around Indonesia to help make it happen. “I asked them to do the official proposal, and then we worked together to raise the funds,” he says. “And the parish priest there, who is a Divine Word Missionary, he also oversaw it.” At the opening and blessing ceremony of the two places of worship, Fr Boni said the church and mosque in Compang village were “symbols and models of harmonious tolerance based on the indigenous culture of Indonesia and Flores”. He hoped the project would serve as an example for other villages and regions in the country. “Tolerance cannot be discussed solely on a scientific level, through seminars or conferences, but must be rooted in the community’s culture,” he said. “Tolerance must be based on culture and respect for culture because cultural values shape a person’s character before religious principles. “Religious tolerance must be grounded in culture and grassroots community cooperation. This is genuine tolerance.” Fr Boni says the Compang village project is a grassroots example of the SVD commitment to interfaith initiatives. “It is very much connected to the SVD charism and spirituality,” he says. “It is a practical expression of that charism and spirituality, which responds to the need of the people.” The new church for Compang Village Fr Boni Buahendri SVD with local soccer teams in front of the new church The new mosque caters for the minority population of Muslim villagers