Our sister parish relationship with Railaco Jesuit Mission is not principally about our extending assistance for humanitarian efforts and education, but about relationship and partnership in mission.
Let’s not forget this spiritual dimension to our relationship. We stand in solidarity, and ‘walk together in faith’ with our Timorese sisters and brothers.
In the past year, Railaco parish priest Fr Joseph Phuong has ramped-up his parish’s response to Pope Francis’ exhortation, “Let us not forget that the condition of every mission in the Church is that we are united to the Risen Christ as branches to the vine. Otherwise what we do is social activism”. In these challenging times for the Church, we at St Canice’s could do well to follow his example as we make our pastoral plans and move to strengthen the faith of those in our own community.
Please read the story below. HOW REFRESHING IT IS!
In October 2017
Railaco elevated to full Parish status under the care of the Jesuits
One year ago, the Bishop of Dili raised the status of Railaco to status of full ‘Parish’ under the care of the Jesuits. At the time, there were already many parishioners, but cultural and traditional activities were dominant. The people were hesitant to deepen their faith through the doctrines of the Catholic Church.
One Year On: Scriptures for Families and Family Visits
Upon this inauguration last year, Railaco immediately began to focus its activities on pastoral and sacramental programs by visiting the families in order to expand the Catholic faith in the families. Besides pastoral and sacramental programs, the Parish also diversified its program to constructing chapels, halls, residences, and other edifices, in order to facilitate pastoral programs and community activities.
The implementation of the Parish program was divided into two phases: the first phase focused on the construction of the church and pastoral works; and the second phase now concentrates on “Scriptures for Families” and “Family Visits”.
The Railaco parish priest, Joseph Phuong SJ stresses the importance of the program that is to focus on “Bible for Families”. He defined this last year as the Year of Scripture.” The continuation for this year is to prioritise the “Visiting Families” program to approach families in the villages, which some of the special parish group are currently doing”.
The implementations of the programs in the parish are construction program, pastoral activities, formation of the catechists, and the involvement of the youth. Furthermore, the program also involves many parishioners and families from the area.
Forming and developing a network Catechists and Pastoral Programs for Parents, Youth and Teenagers
Mr Rui Berek, Chief of Family Department of Railaco Parish says, “In January 2018, we held a Daily Council meeting to discuss the parish programs to organise the establishment of the family department. We were asked by the parish priest to organise a detailed planned for the program. The implementation of the family program is with a crucial objective that the parish should be able to approach the families and to get to know them, and the problems that are facing the families.
The first part of the program concentrates on the formation of agents to become Catholic communicators of faith. On the other hand, the second part concentrates more on “Meeting Families” to be able to discover the realities and issues that are facing each individual in each family as well as their living condition; also meeting with the gentiles, as well as different religious communities, in order to promote harmony and good relationships with them and among them.
The plan that has also been implemented is Pastoral Program for the parents, youth, teenagers, and also categorical groups, with the aim of deepening their Catholic faith with the doctrines of the church. With that in mind, the Railaco Mission has also thought of establishing a special educational department, in order to be able to collaborate with all the school directors and coordinators and inform them about the pastoral programs that will be implemented directly in their schools and communities.
Fr. Joseph Nyuyen tanh Phoung, SJ Parish Priest of Railaco says, “I inspire them to be involved in the faith-building program, especially they who are jobless to voluntarily get involved in this group that I call Special Catechists Group to deepen their Catholic experience. One day, those who have entered into the group can extend their faith by giving formation to young people, children, and also liturgy and catechism to prepare the candidates to receive sacraments in Railaco parish, and also in chapels in remote areas”.
Continuing support of education, public health in clinics, and children’s feeding program
The head of the Pastoral Council, Virgilio de Aráujo, reports, “the Jesuits continue to earnestly work to serve all in need, such as celebrating Mass with the people in remote villages, supporting catechetical activities, participating in education, providing service of public health in clinics, and also feeding program.”
Jesuits have become a pillar for the Church in East Timor
At a conference last year, Dom Virgilio do Carmo da Silva, SBD Bishop of Dili congratulated and expressed his gratitude for the Jesuits who are sacrificing and offering their service in this country. He said, “Jesuit Pastors have become a pillar for the church in Timor-Leste”. We are grateful for the companionship of the Jesuits who have been helping Railaco for the past sixteen years. Their services have shown tremendous progress for the people of Railaco and the people have felt changes in their spiritual and family lives.”
The Regional Superior of the Jesuits, Joaquim Sarmento, SJ, also expressed his gratitude for the Bishop and all the help that has been given by the donors who have become the foot and the Lord’s helping hand for the development of Railaco Parish.
“The church will only be an empty building if we do not take part inside the church”
Fr Joaquim said, “The church is like a spiritual edifice, the belief of each person is a strong faith for the church”. However, the church will only be an empty building if we do not take part inside the Church”.
“More importantly, as proclaimed by St Paul, each and every one of us is the living block that collectively builds the Church, which is not a mere material edifice but rather a spiritual edifice. On behalf of Companhia de Jesus, we sincerely thank all the donors and collaborators who have helped in establishing this Parish.“
The long journey and the processes that Railaco has faced have become the blessings for the people of Railaco. Collaboration and good relationships between the parish and the communities in Railaco has become the pathway and light for these communities to live in faith, compassion, and peace.