Catholic students in West Papua have appealed to Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar of Jayapura to reopen closed education facilities for local people.
The students met the bishop on November 21, three days after Catholics celebrated the 50th anniversary of Jayapura Diocese.
During the meeting they urged the bishop to reopen four church-owned dormitories in Wamena that were closed in early 2000.
According to Paskalis Itlay, one of the students, Jayapura Diocese used to have four dormitories in Wamena — one was the St Don Bosco dormitory for junior high students and three others for senior high school students.
The facilities housed many poor Catholics families from remote areas who could not afford to rent housing in Wamena city.
“Those facilities were also important as a training center for young Catholics who aspired to be leaders in the region,” Itlay said.
The dorms were opened in the 1980s and are funded by Caritas Australia.
The facilities were used to accommodate Catholic students and families from nine parishes in Jayapura Diocese, who studied in Wamena. At that time high schools existed only in cities.
The dorms closed when the foreign donations stopped.
The youths said the dormitories have forged the life of many lay Catholics, but since their closure there is concern about the formation of future lay leaders.
“Reopening those facilities is crucial to empower young Papuans,” Itlay said, and they remain vacant.
Bishop Ladjar agreed to discuss the matter with diocesan officials.