St Ignatius Feast Day Celebration - We are one, but we are many, From many Jesuit ministries we come, We share their dream And sing with one voice I am, you are, we are Ignatian. At St Canice's Kings Cross Sydney
Walking with the Excluded’ is one of these that we embrace in our sister parish relationship with the Jesuit Mission in Railaco. We ‘walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation, justice and love’. We were welcomed with genuine affection everywhere. Most importantly, our presence strengthened the bonds of friendship between our two communities. This gave us tangible evidence of our common humanity and our equal dignity as children of a loving God. We are one. We are good neighbours. We are friends, who have love one for another.
The students of NOSSEF, the Jesuits' Railaco secondary school of nearly 400, see the blessings that their education brings them and therefore they focus on their studies. Last year, all students passed the national exams and the school came 2nd in the country only to be pipped by the Jesuit-run school outside of Dili. Amazing achievement because these are children from poor villages who have experienced the brunt of their recent brutal history.
The purpose of this trip was to visit the Mission, meet the people, and see first-hand the work that we have been supporting. And amongst many interesting questions, one that was raised and that I will attempt to address first is: As my religious affiliation is non-Catholic, why am I a donor to this Jesuit humanitarian project?
The key observation I made during our visit to Fatu Besi was that the people have great need, but they are NOT needy. We can make friends with our neighbours in Timor Leste, we become equals. We are not the givers and they the takers. We can inspire each other as friends do, help each other as friends do, love each other as friends do.
The word neighbour derives from those near-by. When the neighbour is drawn into the exchange of kindnesses, our human-ness is enhanced by the enabling of goodness. This is what the relationship between St Canice Elizabeth Bay parish and the Jesuit Mission in Railaco is all about - simply being neighbourly, the mutual comfort each of us derive from having good neighbours.
Fr Paul's other interests and concerns include ecology/ sustainability, refugee matters, and - inspired by his fellow novice, Christopher Willcock SJ - church music; while carefully preparing couples for lifelong marriage continues to give him much satisfaction and joy.
In this article, Fr Kelly SJ has shines an 'Ignatian' light on what is going on in the church at the moment. It lessens some of the pressure that many feel about apparent lack of leadership by Pope Francis. He knows what he is about, and doing it in a very Ignatian way.