You, all of us at St Canice’s, are part of something so big at our Railaco secondary school. Through their Jesuit education, and as part of our involvement, students at Nossef gain not only an enriching understanding of knowledge that comes from textbooks, but also from life experiences, like adapting to a culture, embracing failure, living a balanced life, and relating with people from different ages and backgrounds.

Fr Hyoe Murayama SJ, Director of Nossef says, “As a Jesuit school, there are two things that are important: intellectual formation and character formation. I think for Ignatius is clear. If you want to follow Jesus, you first need to change yourself. To educate and form students, we must first form their character. That is, we must prepare well the instrument to fill it with any substantial contents. The instrument here, in the Ignatian education, is the character”.

Recent visitor to Railaco, Michael Musgrave tells Fr Sacha, “It’s that sense of the Jesuit cultural insight; and the importance of being here in the flesh with a little more time to explore ideas, that’s expanding my horizons beyond the normal school activities that some of us from St Canice’s have been exposed to on previous visits to Railaco”.

There are also other compelling ‘civic’ reasons for the Railaco parish to provide opportunities for children from resource-poor rural areas to access schooling. Firstly, in Timor-Leste, it is never “just” village life. Villages are the core social structures of the nation, where the lulik (traditional spirituality) is centred, and cultural decisions are made.

As the national focus for social services and community-strengthening is currently devolved to municipalities (districts), it is vital that villages are proactive in accessing services and being heard at a regional level. Having people who are educated, empowers small communities to articulate local issues and advocate for their own needs. Educating even one person provides a family and a community with resources – literacy, numeracy, reasoning, knowledge – that enriches and empowers members to make decisions and participate in the larger public life.

Let’s swing into action and lend our full support to this Jesuit enterprise.

Nossef students at school on Saturday enjoying extracurricular activities