Home BERITA Being an Indonesian CB Nun in the Netherlands

Being an Indonesian CB Nun in the Netherlands

Ilustrative: Sisters of Charity of St. Charles Borromeo. (Supplied)

… in bold courage, and on the word of my spiritual Leader, I throw out the net every day…

Being raised within a Catholic family in the midst of Moslems majority has a great impact in my religious upbringing.

Although the place where I lived was relatively peaceful and tolerant, I often encountered challenging questions about my faith from my schoolmates and the people around me.

For this reason, I learned more seriously about Catholicism. I was involved in some church’s activities, such as the Legion of Mary, Catholic youth organization, and lector.

I tried to defend my own faith. That was my motivation.

Influential power from Dutch missionaries

I learned to know about religious life through some Indonesian and Dutch missionaries, working in my village. Their happy, fruitful life and love for others which were so visible, had attracted me to walk  the same path.

This experience is like a little sparkle that enkindled my heart. It was troubling, but in a positive way.

In prayer, the call to religious life entered into my mind more and more.

In prayer I shared all my sorrow, my joy and discouragement with Jesus.

As the desire grew stronger I started to visit some religious communities. At the age of 20, I entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Charles Borromeo in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Original text written in Dutch. (Supplied)

Spiritual journey

As time goes by, with ups and downs I continue my personal journey with God while sharing the same vocation together with my fellow sisters. I left my own land and continue to fully explore the depths of my soul, through my prayers and my encounters with different kinds people in the communities as well as through ministries entrusted to me.

So, here I am, an Indonesian missionary sent by the Congregation to carry out my leadership service in the Dutch Region.

A region which is very dear to us, as it is from this country our Congregation started 184 years ago, and it is from here out the Congregation opened the wings of her heart, to go to different parts of the world, to bring the Good News to our brothers and sisters beyond any boundaries, especially those who were suffering and in distress.

Like many other congregations in Europe, now this region is in the process of completion.

Jokingly, one of our sisters said to me, “Ouch,  we started by Mother Elisabeth, and we will end our congregation (in the Netherlands) by Lisbeth!”.

Although, it is true that the number of sisters is getting smaller and it is also true that more than before we experience our vulnerability in different aspects of our lives.

Nevertheless, I don’t believe God has called me here to turn the lights off.

I do believe that the charism and inspiration will continue to be alive, enriched and adapted through different generations.  

Moreover, I do believe that the Spirit who enkindled and moved our foundress is the same Spirit who moves and fills our hearts with passion, joy and fruitfulness of life.

For me, this is the legacy to pass on … a charism to be accepted, a spirit to be expressed and a mission to accomplish.

For me, the fragility of religious life today is not a tragedy or sadness. Through the eyes of faith, I see and experience God who is molding and make us anew.

He is calling us to embrace the darkness in our life, our uncertainty, our fear and our discouragement. For God’s power and grace is made perfect in weakness (cf. 2 Cor. 12: 9).

Let me conclude my sharing with the text of our foundress, which represent my spiritual journey.

FOR I PREFER from time to time to be with my dear tired Jesus at Jacob’s well with the Samaritan woman and I often say to Him: ‘Lord, I am thirsty, give me that life-giving water’ (John 4). But alas, I have had my honeymoon. Now I roam about in the dark night, yet in bold courage, and on the word of my spiritual Leader, I throw out the net every day. May the Name of the Lord be blessed for all eternity. (EG 140)

Sr. Lisbeth C. Ratwasih CB

Maastricht, the Netherlands

Read more:

ASIA/INDONESIA – The commitment of the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo in the context of the pandemic



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