The diocesan territory of 37.530,52 square kilometers covers the 11 districts and 2 municipalities of South Kalimantan province: Balangan, Banjar, Banjarbaru, Banjarmasin, Barito Kuala, Hulu Sungai Selatan, Hulu Sungai Tengah, Hulu Sungai Utara, Kotabaru, Tabalong, Tanah Bumbu, Tanah Laut and Tapin. It borders East Kalimantan in the North, Central Kalimantan in the West, the Makassar Strait in the East, and the Java Sea in the South.
Catholics in the diocese come from several ethnic backgrounds including Javanese, Florinese (from Flores, East Nusa Tenggara province), Toraja (from South Sulawesi), and Indonesians of Chinese descent.
The history of Banjarmasin diocese begins with the arrival of Father Antonino Ventimiglia, CR, on Feb. 2, 1688. The Sultan of Banjarmasin did not allow him to travel into the interior, so the priest left on May 27 that same year and went to Goa. However, on June 25, 1689, Father Ventimiglia returned to Banjarmasin and was able to reach interior areas . There the Theatine priest baptized 1,800 people from 15 villages.
On Jan. 19, 1692, Pope Innocentius XII established the Apostolic Vicariate of Borneo and appointed Father Ventimiglia as Apostolic Vicar. Unknown to Church officials, however, the priest had died in 1691, and the vicariate did not prosper.
On Feb. 11, 1905, the Holy See established the Apostolic Prefecture of Dutch Borneo, based in Singkawang. As the name suggests, the Dutch had colonized Borneo, including Banjarmasin. The prefecture was entrusted to Capuchins. On April 10, 1905, Capuchin Father Pacificus Boss was appointed apostolic prefect.
On April 17, 1907, two Capuchin priests and a Capuchin brother stayed in Banjarmasin on their way to Laham, East Kalimantan, to open their first mission station. After the establishment of the mission station, the priest visited Banjarmasin regularly, twice a year. In 1924, Holy Family missioners took over the mission station of Laham.
On Feb. 27, 1926, Holy Family Father P. Vosen was chosen as the first priest to serve and reside in Banjarmasin. The mission station of Banjarmasin was officially opened in 1931, and Holy Family Father J. Groen was appointed its priest. Five years later, on April 19, 1936, the first building of Holy Family Church was blessed.
In May 1926, the Apostolic Prefecture of Banjarmasin was established with Holy Family Father Jakobus Kusters as its apostolic prefect. The prefecture was elevated to an Apostolic Vicariate on March 10, 1949, and Holy Family Father Johanes Groen became its first apostolic vicar. Father Kusters died of illness on April 18, 1953, and Holy Family Bishop Wilhelmus Joannes Demarteau succeeded him.
On Jan. 3, 1961, the vicariate was elevated to a diocese, and Holy Family Bishop W.J. Demarteau was appointed its first bishop. The prelate resigned in 1983.
On June 6, 1983, Pope John Paul II appointed Holy Family Father Fransiskus Xaverius Prajasuta the first Indonesian bishop of Banjarmasin. Father Prajasuta was ordained a bishop by Bishop Demarteau on Oct. 23, 1983. Bishop Prajasuta resigned in 2008.
Bishop Timang succeeded him.