The churches of Europe are pretty empty generally. But in Indonesia, with its mainly Muslim population, Christian seminaries are overwhelmed with applicants. On a hill in the middle of the jungle on the island of Flores lies the world’s largest seminary. More than 1000 students study at Ledalero, and at least 600 of them are candidates for the priesthood.
The Divine Word Missionaries have been active on the Indonesian island of Flores since 1912. Today, there are more than 2000 Divine Word priests and brothers in Indonesia. Before the missionaries arrived, Ledalero was virtually deserted. The indigenous people avoided the area because they believed it to be inhabited by evil spirits. Building a Catholic seminary there has transformed Ledalero. Now it is not only viewed positively by Indonesians, but by Catholics everywhere. The seminary in Ledalero educates priests who go out into the world, proclaiming the gospel not only by preaching, but by fighting poverty and injustice. We visited Ledalero and report on the Indonesian students studying philosophy and theology there, many of them with the aim of becoming Catholic priests.