Italian missionary and lay Catholics help natural disaster victims in Yogyakarta


The cooperation that began between Fr Ciroi and KBKK volunteers right after the Padang quake of 2009 is truly “an experience of faith”. Funds for reconstruction are raised via a mailing list. The latest project involves rebuilding a water supply system destroyed by the Mount Merapi eruption.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Fr Rodolfo Ciroi, an Italian-born Xaverian priest, is a missionary with a big job to do. It includes, among other things, helping civilians affected by natural disasters, working on development projects at the village level and rebuilding water works damaged by volcanic eruptions. He is not alone for he has found support in a group of lay Indonesian Catholics. In fact, aA chance meeting between Father Rodolfo and activists from the Kelompok Bhakti Kasih Kemanusiaan (KBKK) after the devastating Padang quake of 2009 led to an “experience of faith” from which various aid and development projects followed.

The latest humanitarian project was realised in Yogyakarta where the Merapi eruption of October 2010 caused widespread damages. In mid-December, Andreas Gunawan, from the KBKK, and Father Rodolfo began working on reconstruction in the area, starting with the water system that traditionally brought water from higher ground through plastic pipes.

Thanks to contributions from a small army of donors contacted by e-mail, water supplies at the foot of the mountain were re-established. A local nuns’ rectory and their retreat house of Saint Theresia were among the beneficiaries of the new water supply system.

For the Catholic priest, the presence of lay Catholics is a source of personal encouragement, a way to show “God’s love for others”.  Locals are grateful for the help as well. “Local residents, mostly volcanic eruption survivors and victims, showed great joy for the humanitarian project by the Xaverian priest and lay Catholics,” Lusiana Srikiana Sunaryo told AsiaNews.

Speaking about Catholic activism in the areas affected by natural disasters, the Italian priest said he was “personally happy to have met KBKK members, who use their networking to turn the spirit of compassion and the love of God for others into action”.

This first occurred in Mentawai and Padang, now in Merapi (Yogyakarta). “This is truly an experience of faith,” the priest concluded.

Fr Rodolfo Ciroi was born in Italy and arrived in Indonesia 35 ago. Initially assigned to the Padang mission (West Sumatra), he was transferred to Yogyakarta in 1996.

In Padang, the Xaverian missionary met KBKK activists for the first time, following the devastating quake of 2009. Father Rodolfo’s “great concern and love for people” led the charity group to add his to their mailing list.


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