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Interview with Alexander Dato sscc, from the Province of Indonesia

“I have learned from Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who always cares for
and is compassionate to those who suffer”


Fr. Alex, please introduce yourself briefly.

First of all, I would like to thank Fr. Fernando Cordero for asking me to share my experience of mentoring families and children with special needs. I am Father Alexander Dato sscc and I belong to the Immaculate Heart of Santa Maria Parish, Tanjung Pinang. I was born in Pengudang village, Bintan Island, Riau Islands. I am now 53 years old and have lived the life of an SSCC priest for 23 years. I am currently serving in the SS.CC Provincial House, Batam.

How do you organise your accompaniment of people with different abilities and their families?

The Indonesia Province established Yayasan Insan Sehati Sebalai on 1st October, 2019. The focus of the Foundation's services is to assist families and children with special needs. The idea of forming this foundation was due to concerns regarding families who have children with special needs but who do not have a place in which they can gather. The presence of Yayasan Insan Sehati Sebalai is an oasis where families who have children with special needs can find water that can sustain them.  The sustenance involves assisting the family and their children who have special needs in various ways, especially their spiritual needs.

The Insan Sehati Sebalai Foundation identifies and visits families with children with special needs. Through the visits, stories are shared and encouragement is given. In addition to visits, we always come together for a mass every 3 months and this too is a time for parents to share and strengthen each through their common life experiences. Another activity we undertake is to accompany and prepare children with special needs who have not yet received the sacraments of baptism and first communion.

What are the spiritual and material activities that you carry out?

The spirituality underlying this entire ministry is “uniting ourselves with Jesus in playing a loving and caring part in restoring disabled, poor, and abandoned children to their full humanity, people made in the image of God”. Through this spirituality, we try to embrace those who are different. Although they have special needs, they are also human beings in the image of God.

What challenges do families with children with different abilities experience?

During our mentoring, the challenge experienced by families is that they feel ashamed of having children who are “different”. As a result, they do not want to gather with others, are ashamed to go to church, are ashamed to gather in the base community of the church. In addition to feeling embarrassed, quite a lot of families who have children with special needs come from families that are less fortunate so it is difficult to find funds to bring their children to therapy. These two challenges we have discovered and experienced when we visited from house to house. Therefore, Yayasan Insan Seha  ti Sebalai is thinking about opening a "skill center" as a service to assist such children. Hopefully, through this "skill center", the Foundation will be able to identify skills that these children possess.

What is the most joyful thing for children with different abilities?

As long as we have been accompanying children with special needs, we have noticed how important it is for them to get out of the house and have a place to play and meet others. They feel happy to be accepted, welcomed and embraced.

Mass with family and children who have special needs (February 19, 2023)

What does this ministry bring to you as an SSCC  religious?

First of all, as an SSCC religious I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to take part in serving families and children who have special needs. When I was still ministering in Bandung, I was already involved with such families. The Bandung Diocese set up the Percik Insani Foundation. This foundation provides care and services to families and children with special needs. That experience has helped the Indonesian Province in establishing the Yayasan Insan Sehati Sebalai Foundation. As a person and an SSCC religious I have, through this ministry, always learned from Jesus who is the Good Shepherd, who always cares for and is compassionate to those who suffer.  As Jesus has always said, "My heart is moved with mercy..." The ever-moved Sacred Heart of Jesus cares for the sick, the suffering, the hungry, and the abandoned." (cf. Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Matthew 20:34, Mark 8:1-2)

How are you personally living the centenary of the presence of the Congregation in Indonesia?

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the presence of the Congregation of the SSCC in Indonesia, my reflection is that as a Province we need to think of a work that is truly SSCC distinctive.


Number of Children with Disabilities: 24


Type of Special Needs




Physical disability & inability to speak

Deaf mute











Gregory Abel, an autism child, is reading the first reading