Seventy five years ago, Dutch missionaries to Indonesia’s Southeast Maluku regency gave their lives for the gospel.

Now, locals are celebrating their sacrifice, and service to God and man.

The festivities were held in late July with various artistic performances.

“Their influence is so great in the faith formation of Catholics. Their sacrifice inspires them,” said Vicar general of Amboina Diocese, Father Bernard Rahawarin.

On July 30, 1942, during World War II, Japanese soldiers shot eight brothers, five priests, and New Guinea’s Dutch Apostolic Vicar and Sacred Heart Bishop, Johannes Aerts in the Makulu province.

Locals petitioned for the Beatification of the martyrs to the Vatican in 1952. It wasn’t fulfilled, but Father Rahawarin says, “the diocese is open to it,” and that the locals want to try again

A cross procession near Bishop Aerts’ grave took place according to the secretary of Indonesia Province Sacred Heart Congregation, Father Yohanis Mangkey.

There was even a reenactment of “the final moments when they were killed.”

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