Indonesian nuns from several congregations in Malang diocese, eastern Java, have completed a martial arts training to prepare them to defend themselves and others if necessary. 54 nuns were inaugurated into the Catholic-based Pelita Hidup Sejati (PHS, lamp of true life) martial arts group last week during a Mass at which Carmelite Bishop Herman Joseph Pandoyoputra of Malang presided.
    Franciscus Xaverius Winarno, PHS founder and chairman, told UCA News that the nuns superiors at first rejected the idea to involve them in martial arts. However, after realizing that churches and religious community houses have become targets of attacks in Indonesia, "they finally accepted (the idea), because PHS is based on Catholic faith and practices," Winarno said.
    Twice a week the nuns had intensive training at their community houses, he explained, adding that trainees have to pray, fast and get involved in social and Church services in their neighbourhoods the first three days of each week. For 11 days before their inauguration, trainees fast and are allowed to drink only plain water in the evenings.
    Ursuline Sister Alexandra Hadihardjono told UCA News that the PHS training has improved her meditation, courage and self-confidence. "With the power of the Holy Spirit, we are ready to defend the church and serve the people," said Sister Hadihardjono, adding that the martial arts training also teaches self-healing through inner power.
    Winarno disclosed that PHS, which now has 753 members began as part of an Islamic-based martial arts organization set up by a Muslim following the bombing of several churches including Sacred Heart Church in Malang in 1984. After training together for two years, Catholic members broke away and established the PHS based on the Catholic faith and the Gospel, he added. END

10:12am 30/4/99 / UCA News


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