The vision of the diocese of Larantuka is of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) serving as communities of faith, hope and love that draw their life from the Word of God and Sacraments, and are independent, integrative, participatory and transformative.
The predominant ethnic group is the Lamaholot tribe.
- Arrival of Portuguese Missioners In 1550, a Portuguese merchant ship stopped at Solor Island. These Catholic traders mingled with local people, taught Catholicism and even baptized some people. In 1556, another Portuguese merchant ship stopped at the island because of bad weather. Its captain taught Catholicism to the king of Solor and baptized him. Portuguese missioners coming later to the island continued what had the Portuguese traders had begun.
Under the guidance of Dominican missioners, the Church in Solor grew. The first missioner was Father Antonio de Taceira. Fathers Antonio da Cruz and Simeo da Chagas as well as Brother Alexio then followed. The Dominicans baptized 25,000 people and established 25 mission stations in East Flores.
- Dutch Missioners
On Dec. 19, 1851, the Portuguese and Dutch concluded a treaty that marked off their areas of control in Nusa Tenggara (the Lesser Sunda Islands). East Flores came under the Dutch, but Portuguese missioners still served people in the area sometimes.
On Aug. 4, 1860, Yohanes Petrus Nikolaus Sanders, a Dutch diocesan priest, arrived in Larantuka. Father Gaspar Hubertus Fransen took over the work the following year and established a school before he returned to the Netherlands in October 1863.
- Service of Jesuit Missioners
Before Father Fransen left, Jesuit Father Gregorius Metz arrived in Larantuka on April 17, 1963. He established a school in Postoh. This school building later became a church. Afterward, several churches and chapels were built.
Father Metz served people in Larantuka for 20 years. Toward the end of his time, in 1879, Franciscan nuns arrived from Heythuijsen.
- Divine Word Missioners
On May 4, 1917, Jesuit Father Hoebrects and two Jesuit brothers left Larantuka and Flores. But by that time, the first Divine Word missioner, Father William Bach, had arrived. From 1919 until 1920, about 35 Divine Word priests and brothers came to Nusa Tenggara. They established schools and mission stations.
The Japanese occupied Flores in 1942, during the World War II. They interned most of the Dutch missioners in South Sulawesi, although they allowed Monsignor Hendrik Leven and some priests to continue their pastoral ministry. The first two local priests, members of the Society of the Divine Word, had been ordained just before the occupation, in 1941. One of them was Father Gabriel Manek from West Timor, who served in East Flores.
- New Era
A new era began after the war ended. San Dominggo Seminary was established in 1950 to prepare young Florinese men to be priests. The first of these native sons was ordained a diocesan priest in 1963, two years after the establishment of Larantuka Diocese Ende Archdiocese, and Ruteng Diocese covering, respectively, eastern, central and western Flores. Thirty-five years later, the number of diocesan priests reached 78.
Meanwhile, In 1958, Bishop Manek, at that time Apostolic Vicar of Larantuka, established the Daughters of the Rosary Queen (PRR) for local women who wanted to become Religious. The congregation now serves in 12 dioceses across Indonesia as well as overseas.
Birth of Larantuka Diocese
In 1951, the Apostolic Vicariate of the Lesser Sunda Islands was divided into three apostolic vicariates: Ende, Ruteng, and Larantuka. When Pope John XXIII established the Indonesian hierarchy in 1961 these became an archdiocese and two dioceses. Bishop Manek became the first Archbishop of Ende, while Divine Word Bishop Antonius Hubertus Thijssen succeeded him as the head of Larantuka Diocese.
In 1974, Bishop Thijssen was transferred to Denpasar diocese, and Monsignor Darius Nggawa, SVD, took over as head of Larantuka Diocese. When he retired in 2004, Coadjutor Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung succeeded him as the first diocesan bishop of Larantuka.
The diocese of Larantuka covers two districts — Flores Timur and Lembata — in the eastern part of Flores Island as well as the small islands of Adonara, Lembata and Solor.