My dear friends,
Peace of the Lord be with you! Our life and mission in East Timor has been marked by various events in these last few months. First, we gratefully celebrated in June the priestly ordination of our brother, Albino Ribeiro Gonçalves SJ, and also the first Mass at which he presided.
Not many friends from other countries could make it to the event, but we were happy to welcome the company of Fr Mark Raper SJ [of the Australia Province] and Neville Harpham [a friend of the Jesuits who has been travelling from Australia to Timor-Leste for the last nine years].
Prior to the ordination, the Region gathered for the blessing of the new buildings of Instituto de Brito, our newly established institute for teacher training which is currently educating 117 students. We hope to be able to contribute to the education system in our country by offering well-trained teachers to the rural areas.
Still in the area of education, with the contribution of friends, we are able to start the construction of a dormitory for boys in Railaco, next to our NOSSEF high school. Our friend, Michael Curtajar (Sydney), came to visit us last week to have a close look at this project.
In Kasait, Liquiça, we will soon have our school chapel ready for use. Due to some technical issues, the planned blessing of the chapel has been moved to 3 December, on the feast day of St Francis Xavier, instead of 4 November.
Our journey these last few months was also marked by a regional discernment process that involved Jesuits and collaborators, both lay and other religious. The process started with an annual retreat in August last year and culminated in June this year with a three-day workshop on the region’s strategic plan.
Ateneo CORD in Manila assisted us in the process, and we are now in the process of coming out with a final strategic plan for 2019-2024. It’s clear for us that sharing the mission with our collaborators means discerning the process with them as well.
In the beginning of this year, an external evaluation on the programs and projects of our communications ministry, Casa de Produçao Audiovisual (CPA), was done. The evaluation produced various necessary recommendations that the ministry and the region is geared to honour.
Soon we’ll have the visit of our friends from Jesuit Mission Switzerland, the homeland of the late Fr Ruedi Hofmann SJ, who started the CPA in East Timor in 2002. (In May, we commemorated the 10th Anniversary of his death with a simple Mass with the staff of CPA and the community.)
In all of these, I am grateful. I am always hopeful about our life and mission to serve Christ the King here in Timor because, despite the challenges, we are graced with the blessing of our God in the form of companions in our journey.
For the greater glory of God.
Fr Joaquim Sarmento SJ