Mike on Mission in Timor-Leste

Mike Deasy (Diocesan Director for Catholic Mission) recently visited a number of projects in Timor-Leste. Two of them were the newly completed parish/community hall at Same (Diocese of Dili) and the Parish of Laleia (Diocese of Baucau) where a new church is to be built in the Cairui valley.

Help from the Diocese of Bathurst
The Diocese of Bathurst has a special interest in these two projects, as each has been supported by the Bishop’s Christmas Appeal for the past two years.

The completion date for the new church, with a seating capacity of 160, is October or November 2014. An architectural firm in Portugal is providing its services ‘pro bono’ to the Parish Priest at Laleia, Capuchin Friar Father Filipe de Jesus da Silva Rodrigues.

Consideration is being given to the feasibility of a group from the Bathurst Diocese making the pilgrimage to Cairui with Catholic Mission for the blessing and opening of the new church. Expressions of interest can be directed to Mike Deasy at (remove XX) catholicmission XX @bathurst XX .catholic.org.au.

The two projects are typical of the works that are supported by Catholic Mission’s donors nationally, including those who respond most generously to the World Mission Sunday appeal in parishes across the Diocese of Bathurst each October.

Many clerical orders and religious congregations familiar to Australia’s Catholics are widely represented in Timor-Leste. All are making extraordinary contributions in ministry, pastoral care, missionary service, formation and education to a generous and hospitable people.

A bit about Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste remains a country of stark contrasts. It has had a troubled colonial and foreign occupation history, with independence finally achieved in 2002.  It looks more towards Asia than Australia for its future prosperity, but continues to be recognised as the poorest economy in Asia. However the people, while living simply, remain hopeful and optimistic of a more prosperous future.

The national languages are Portuguese and Tetum, the latter recognised as the ‘lingua franca’ with 32 dialects in all spoken throughout the country. English and Indonesian are termed ‘working languages’. The education syllabus is taught in Portuguese.

Catholic faith and observances give every appearance of being imbedded in the culture but traditional animist beliefs are still practiced in the rural areas. Parents see education as the key to their children’s future but a degree from the University of Dili is no guarantee of future employment.

The country’s only seminary - Ss Peter & Paul in Dili - is filled to capacity with 125 seminarians, all of whom are multi-lingual and at differing stages of formation on their priestly journey. Outstanding students are provided with the opportunity to complete their studies at Catholic institutes in Indonesia.

Many clerical Orders and religious congregations that are familiar names to Australia’s Catholics are widely represented in Timor-Leste. All are making extraordinary contributions in ministry, pastoral care, missionary service, formation and education to a generous and hospitable people. The country has had a troubled colonial and foreign occupation history, with independence finally achieved in 2002.

Donations to the 2013 Christmas appeal in the Diocese of Bathurst have also been pledged to complete the project at Cairui.


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