Short History of Catholic in Bali
On December 25th all Christians all over the world will celebrate Christmas day, so do Christians in Bali. Although the majority of the dwellers in this island are Hindu but they keep respecting others. How Christians can be accepted in an island where most of the inhabitants have been followers of Hindu? Well, this article will try to answer this question but it will be focused on the history of Catholic in Bali.
It is very important to know how condition of Bali when catholic entered Bali. At the early of 1900s, majority of Balinese were Hindu. They lived in accordance with the customs and Hindu. In terms of social strata, there was a clear gap between the each part of caste. The three high classes: Brahmana, Ksatriya, and Waisya were in prosperity while Sudra, the lowest one, lived in poor, worked as a farmer, labor, or fishermen. On that time, education was a prestigious thing that only could be achieved by the higher caste and it was impossible to be acquired by the Sudra.
When the Dutch controlled Bali on that time, Dutch Government sent some of Balinese youths to Makasar to learn about Christianity under the control of CMA (Christian and Missionary Alliance). Until, in 1935 there was a conflict between Christian and Hindu in Bali, this result in, CMA in Bali was closed down and Balinese youngsters who were still in Makasar sent back to Bali.
On September 11th 1935, the first missionary named Pastor J. Kersten, SVD arrived in Denpasar to serve European and Malayan. Two Balinese youngsters from Tuka village, I Made Bronong and I Wajan Dibloeg, who had just finished their study in Makasar then came to Kersten’s house to offer their religious book though Pastor Jaffray (their Pastor in Makasar) forbade these catechists to talk with Catholic Pastor. The meeting and the discussion about the religion continually with Pastor Kersten changed their beliefs into Catholic. Even more I Made Bronong allowed his sons to be baptized and he sent this news to the other Balinese Christian people in other region. Those people then came to Tuka village to follow Bronong’s way.
Tuka village is located in Dalung, Kuta regency. Tuka is considered as the center of Catholic in Bali. This village was settled by people from Sudra casted who lived in modest way and had not been educated yet. The spread of catholic was conducted into sekaa (organization of various interests which is established in each of Banjar) so that it spread very fast. Besides, the Pastor also delivered the sermon to these poor and uneducated men about men’s love. Pastor Kersten always served the people of Tuka in religious way so it fulfilled those people’s spiritual needs. Catholic in this place was spread without any resistance from the three higher class people. After, long time went by, Pastor Kersten felt that it is needed to build church. Through his sermon, he invited people of Tuka to plan the build of the first Catholic Church at there.
And on February 14th 1937 the first Church named Tri Tunggal Maha Kudus was established. Catholic Balinese try to infuse Catholic into the Balinese art. It can be seen in the first church’s architecture which was used Balinese style. It was used Gapura (a Balinese style door) in front of the Church.
Then Catholic was spread to the other regions. Many missionaries came to Bali to serve the people. Balinese Catholic did not only build Church but they also established some foundation focusing on education, health, and all purpose-corporative. And the date when Pastor J.Kersten came to Denpasar is celebrated as the birth date of Catholic in Bali.