Oblate Father Charles Burrows
(Robertus Sutriyono, Purwokerto, Indonesia, May 28, 2012) – An Islamic cultural institute has honored an Irish-born priest serving in Cilacap district in Central Java for social work spanning the last 39 years. Oblate Father Charles Burrows received this year’s Maarif Award on Saturday in Jakarta.
The award is named after Ahmad Syafi’i Maarif, the former head of Muhammadiyah — the second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia — and the founder of the Maarif Institute for Culture and Humanity. The award is in recognition of the 69-year-old priest’s social works in the St Stephen’s Church area in Cilacap, which began soon after his arrival in the district in 1973.
“I immediately fell in love with the place. I saw so many opportunities to develop [the area],” Fr. Burrows recalled, adding that he was flattered by the award.
His work has covered various fields such as health, economics, the environment, infrastructure and education. He has established 25 schools through the Social Foundation for Welfare Promotion scheme he established in 1976. These schools have taught almost 75,000 children since the scheme began. Several local leaders said Fr. Burrows, who became an Indonesian citizen in 1983, thoroughly deserved the award. “It proves that what Father Burows is doing is right. Other religious leaders should follow his example. He has developed a spirit of togetherness,” said Mohammad Taufick Hidayattulloh, head of the district’s Interreligious Harmony Forum. “Local people know Fr. Burrows well. He is always walking from one village to another … just like Jesus,” said Yuliana Evi Indriani Cahyawati, a member of the district branch of the Catholic Women of the Republic of Indonesia.