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Music-composing Jesuit priest dies in Indonesia

Father Antonius Soetanto was recognized as a major contributor to liturgical music in the Indonesian Church

Music-composing Jesuit priest dies in Indonesia

Jesuit Father Antonius Soetanto, a church music composer, died on March 1 aged 84. (Photo: Father Soetanto’s Facebook)

Published: March 02, 2022 09:08 AM GMT

Updated: March 02, 2022 02:10 PM GMT

Father Antonius Soetanto, a Jesuit priest well known in Indonesia for composing church music and songs, has died at 84.

The priest, whose songs are often sung at Indonesian church services, died in hospital in Semarang, Central Java province, on March 1 after suffering a stroke.

Holy Cross Father Riston Situmorang, executive secretary of the Indonesian bishops' liturgy commission, said the Catholic Church in Indonesia had lost one of its most notable characters.  

“His contribution to the Catholic Church in Indonesia regarding the liturgy was invaluable,” Father Situmorang told UCA News on March 2.

“The commission will continue using his work and we hope it will inspire young Catholics to compose liturgy songs for the Church.” 

Father Yohanes Rusae, a former executive secretary of the same commission who worked with Father Soetanto, said the late priest’s contribution to liturgical adaptation in the local language was immense.

He studied church liturgy music in Utrecht in the Netherlands between 1972 and 1977 before serving in several Jakarta Archdiocese parishes

“Many songs were composed by him to make our liturgy music better and more relevant to Indonesian Catholics,” Father Rusae said.   

One of Father Soetanto’s achievements was arranging liturgical songs in a book called Puji Syukur (Gratitude) used by the Church across Indonesia. 

Born on Aug. 23, 1938, in Semarang. Father Soetanto joined the Jesuits in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1972 in Yogyakarta.

He studied church liturgy music in Utrecht in the Netherlands between 1972 and 1977 before serving in several Jakarta Archdiocese parishes and the Indonesian bishops' liturgy commission.

A funeral service will be held for Father Soetanto before his burial in Magelang, Central Java, on March 3.

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