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Monday, December 16 2019  - 7 User Online  

22.02.2019 18:09:46 1135x read.
Twelve Years Serving the Congregation. (By Bro. Martin Handoko, FIC).

Twelve Years Serving the Congregation.

By Bro. Martin Handoko, FIC.


"There is a season for everything" says the book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3.  "A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, and a time for uprooting what has been planted, etc".  The same pattern is the journey of one's life, including that of myself. There is a time to start and there is a time to conclude; there is a time to come, and there is a time to go.

(A group picture of FIC and Sisters of Amersfoort General Councils with Mr. Willy our Secretary)

I have just completed my function as General Superior of the FIC Congregation after 12 years of service. It started when I was elected General Superior by the General Chapter 2006 in Wahlwiller, The Netherlands, and continued when I was re-elected in the General Chapter 2012 in Salatiga, Indonesia. Based on art. 128 of our Constitutions a General Superior is elected by the General Chapter for a period of six years and can be re-elected only once for a consecutive six year term of office. Accordingly my term of office ended in the year 2018. Although the recent General Chapter elected a new General Superior in August 2018, the sitting General Council was asked to remain in office till the official handing over on 21 November 2018.

Personally I am very happy  that the Chapter has been able to elect a new leadership of the Congregation in accordance with the expectations of the brothers. It gives me a feeling of trust and hope for the good direction and continuation of the Congregation in the years to come. Having these positive feelings, I can go back now to my home province with a sense of peace and joy.

Personal background

To be honest I have never dreamt of becoming a General Superior of the FIC Congregation. When I entered the Congregation I had only a very simple intention, namely to be a good person and to have a meaningful life. This is most probably due to my simple family background. I come from a very simple family. My father and mother were both farmers and practically illiterate. The source of our daily living was mainly from the rice field and the small garden around our house. It was not easy for my parents to get the financial means to enable us, their three children, to go to school.

I entered into the formation stage of the FIC brothers in 1970, and was allowed to make my first profession in 1972. So I have been living religious life for 46 years now. The apostolate assigned to me was mostly in the field of education and leadership. For many years I was a teacher in several Teacher Training colleges and Vocational Schools, after which for a long time I was involved in the management team of Pangudi Luhur School Foundation. After finishing my Doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology, I was employed by the Soegijapranata Catholic University of Semarang, Indonesia, until the time when I was elected General Superior in 2006 and had to move to Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Becoming the General Superior

Becoming the General Superior was a very new experience in my life. I did not have any experience in this kind of leadership. I had never been a Provincial Superior, neither was I ever a member of the General Council, nor even a member of a Provincial Council. But all of a sudden I had to function as the leader of the Congregation. It was somehow a drastic change in my life in terms of my apostolate, but I tried to accept this as a new and enriching experience in my life as a religious. In the beginning I was wondering whether I would be able to function as General Superior as expected by the General Chapter. Despite this doubt I was not afraid of functioning as a leader, since I would not work alone but within a team and with many other support staff. The most important thing for me was to work in collaboration with other people, and above all continue to believe that God who calls and chose me will also guide me until the end.

(The General Council 2012-2018 from L-R: Theo, Martin, Raphael, and Guido)

After 12 years of experience as General Superior I can say that I am very grateful for all the experiences I ever had, especially the experience of being closer to my fellow brothers and being of service to my beloved Congregation. Despite all limitations, the brothers accepted me and were very supportive to me, so that I was able to function as expected by the Chapter. The good cooperation between the Provincial Councils and the General Council is one factor that contributed to the success of my task. At the end of the term of office of this past General Council we can say that we have been able to carry out all resolutions made by the Chapter 2018. This gives me a feeling of fulfillment and surely of satisfaction.

Basic Principles and Challenges

In many conferences and meetings with brothers I kept on saying that religious life is in fact a spiritual journey. Unless we continue to nurture our spiritual lives, we will lose our direction.  Spiritual life is the essence and the core of our being religious. Other aspects of religious life, such as community life and apostolate, will be growing prosperously when our spiritual life is taken care of properly. On the other hand the community life and apostolate also enrich our spiritual life.

Another important point to remember is that religious life is a matter of quality of life, rather than quantity. Surely the quantity of human resources is important and has direct impact on the amount of work we can perform. It is said in art. 30 of our Constitutions that “What we do is important, yet of even greater worth is who we are". The function of religious life in this present time is to be voice and prophet to the world, to be witness of God’s love, and not just a labour force.

(Bro. Martin and our fellow brothers and co-workers during his canonical visit to Ghana)

To enhance the quality of our lives as mentioned above, we need to have a good program on continuing formation. “Not only during our formative years, but throughout our lives we should be open to development, formation, and deepening the meaning of our lives. Our vocation requires us to go on training ourselves for our task, to keep abreast of developments in the church and society, to have a ready eye to the signs of the times, and to continue developing our spiritual growth” (Const. art. 115).

Still one more basic principle which I would like to emphasize is to work with all people of good will. It is not possible for us to develop our apostolate without working together with other people of good will. We are limited in human, financial, and many other resources. What we mean by people of good will includes all stake holders of our apostolate and the society at large. In this modern world the success of our mission mostly depends on our skill of building networks and working together with people, both individuals and groups.

Looking forward

 Despite all challenges we are facing, we have to see the future full of hope and with open heart and mind, since we believe that we live this way of life because of His calling; He is God of Love. We keep on believing that God is saying something through the signs of the times. Believing in God we see our common daily life in a new light; believing in God we experience His love and faithfulness in all circumstances of our common daily existence; finally believing in God we shall often experience darkness, but even then His love is like a cloak around us (cf. Const. art. 55).

In connection with the emphasis on quality of life of our being religious, we should continue to improve the quality of our lives on all aspects: physical, spiritual, social, psychological and professional. Moreover to be witnesses of God’s love we need to be close to the people, especially those in need: the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed and the unloved.

(Bro. Martin, Bro. Guido and the General Council 2018-2024: The right side of Bro. Martin is Bro. Augustine our new General Superior)

Looking at the situation of the Congregation over the past years, we realize that the number of brothers has been decreasing steadily due to the fact that the incoming candidates are far less than the number of deceased brothers and withdrawals. Responding to this reality, we have to continue introducing our Congregation to the people, especially the youth, most of all through the witness we make, by being and doing good for the people, by being happy and loving personalities, by siding with the people in need, and by living the spirit of brotherhood wholeheartedly.


After 12 years of service as General Superior of the Congregation I can look back on all the past experiences with gratitude. Despite the fact that I was not able to fully develop my career as a scientist and lecturer in the University, I have enjoyed more than what I could imagine. I enjoyed so much support and love from my fellow brothers and many more people whom I met. My feeling of fulfillment was complete when we were able to elect a new General Council team in accordance with the expectations of the Chapter. It really gives me a sense of peace, trust and hope for the good direction of the Congregation in the years to come.


Audience with Pope Francis in November 2016

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