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Renwarin-3Beberapa waktu lalu saya diminta Majalah Tempo Edisi Bahasa Inggris untuk mewawancarai Pastor Paul Richard Renwarin. Saya menghubungi Pastor via telepon yang waktu itu masih berada di Jakarta. Lalu kami sepakat bertemu di Asrama Sekolah Tinggi Ilmu Filsafat Seminari Pineleng. Pastor lalu menerima kami (saya mengajak Hermondo Kasiadi/F21STOCK untuk membantu memotret) di kamar asrama yang ditempatinya, pada 8 Desember 2014. Selama sekitar 3 jam, Pastor menyediakan waktu melayani wawancara saya, sementara Hermondo mengerjakan tugasnya.

Hasil wawancara itu sudah dimuat dalam artikel di Majalah Tempo English Edition 18-19 (December 22, 2014 – January 5, 2015) dalam Rubrik Outreach dibawah judul Development of Indonesia’s Outlying Areas. Dalam artikel itu juga dibahas mengenai sosok Robert Ramone dari pulau Sumba dan Joosten Leonardus Edigius dari Sumatera. Artikel itu sebanyak 8 halaman.

Sayang Majalah tersebut tidak beredar di Manado. Tempo berjanji mengirimkan satu majalah untuk saya. Namun saya sudah terlebih dahulu membeli versi e-magazinenya lewat Scoop di Android. Untuk memenuhi rasa penasaran beberapa teman yang juga ingin membaca tentang Pastor, baiklah saya mengutip isi dari artikel tersebut, tentu tidak semua 8 halaman itu, tetapi hanya bagian yang berisi mengenai Pastor Renwarin.

Semua content merupakan hakcipta Tempo English Edition. Untuk edisi lengkap wawancaranya akan saya publish pada kesempatan berikutnya. Selamat membaca.

Outreach: Development of Indonesia’s Outlying


In some of Indonesia’s remote areas, a number of Catholic priests devote their time and resources to ensure that local culture survives, in addition to performing their daily duties as shepherds of their flock. Their activities are unique to their areas. Robert Ramone helps rebuild broken and abandoned adat homes around Sumba Island. Joosten Leonardus Edigius built a Karo Heritage Museum in North Sumatra, helped by three crafstmen. In North Sulawesi, Paul Richard Renwarin combines religion and culture in traditional rituals. As the Christmas holiday approach, we pay homage to the efforts of those who make it part of their daily lives to conserve traditional cultures as a form of giving thanks to the Almighty. A special report of the season from Tempo English.

Editor: Yuli Ismartono
Deputy Editor: Hermien Y. Kleden
Project Officer: Sadika Hamid
Writers: Syari Fani, Sadika Hamid
Reporters: Bunga Padma Putri (Jakarta), Ronny Adolof Buol (Minahasa)
Graphic Design: Eko Panto Pambudi, Kuswoyo
Photo Research: Ijar Karim


In room in the Pineleng Seminary boarding school, North Sulawesi, Father Paul Richard Renwarin sat behind a table full of books. Wearing T-shirt and shorts, the 59-year-old man was holding a picture of two newlyweds.

In the photo, Renwarin was standing close to the bride and the groom beside a tray of nasi jaha (sticky rice grilled in bamboo) and cucur (cookies made with rice flour and palm sugar), traditional dishes from Minahasa. Pointing to the picture, he explained, “This traditional food replaces the tart as the wedding cake,” he said.

Nasi Jaha and cucur haves special meanings in Minahasa. In the past, a girl who could not yet make a cucur — it requires a sophisticated technique — was not ready for marriage. The groom should also be able to make nasi jaha. The food must be cooked in the open air. “That signified that the man had a wide land for plantation,” the priest explained.

Renwarin is known as a religious figure with a great concern for culture. An alumnus of the Pineleng Seminary Institute of Philosophy, Renwarin often combines elements of culture and religion in various events. Other than making adjustments to the marriage ritual, he is also one of the creators of inculturative mass –a Catholic mass that combines elements of religion and culture — in Minahasa.

According to Renwarin, the inculturative massis in accordance with proposals of the Vatican Council II that obligate the Catholic Church to incorporate local cultures of all nations into its teachings and services. “Moreover, this kind of mass would be effective to attract a huge congregation to attend church services,” he said.

Renwarin celebrated the inculturative mass for the first time in the parish of Saint Anthony in Kali village, Minahasa regency, in 1989. At the time a great portion of the congregation lacked the zeal to go to church. The priest tried to think of ways to make church appealing. For two years he translated prayer texts into local vernaculars. He also inserted religious messages into popular folk songs.

When the inculturative mass was celebrated for the first time, the congregation was really surprised. If they used to go home after service, this time they chose to stay. Until 2pm on that Sunday they gathered in front of church discussing the experience. The next week they completed to be the first to arrive. “They caught the messages of my sermons more easily,” he said.

The innovations made him famous; Renwarin received frequent visits from Protestant ministers from Poso and Tentena, Central Sulawesi, who asked for his advice on combining culture with religion. According to Alex John Ulaen, a culture observer from North Sulawesi, Renwarin’s efforts disproved the common misconception that Christianity belongs to Europeans. “We feel the Catholic religion is ours,” he said.

After that, Renwarin began designing new formats for other events. In 2000, Adelina Tumbuan, the wife of the then governor of North Sulawesi, asked Renwarin to incorporate cultural elements into the wedding cake ceremony for her daughter.

One of the basic alterations was replacing Western-style cake with traditional food. He also inserted lyrics of Minahasa folk songs and elements of local dance. “The families of the bride and groom had to learn to sing folk songs before the party was held,” he said.

Renwarin expects that in future the church will play a greater role on adopting local cultures. “For example, the church can build a music studio, but it must be separated from the parish council so adherents of other religions can participate,” he said. Some years ago he collaborated with the North Sulawesi Institute of Art and Culture to build an art center. “We want to promote the culture of Minahasa,” he said. (*)