I look on this relationship as an experience of a being part of a 'missionary church', a church in which we are sent. In many ways you have expressed that you are this 'missionary church' reaching out to a less privileged people, and especially to the Timorese. We are committed to making this relationship even more meaningful, and in return we like to share with you our prayers and those of the Timorese people.
Among the many good fruits cultivated by the two parishes is Jesuit scholastic, Bonifacio Bano Lay Ribeiro SJ. This 23-year-old Railaco parishioner has just taken his first vows as a Jesuit. Bonifacio first experienced the St Canice / Railaco relationship as a child benefitting from the Children’s Feeding Program, and also studied and graduated from the Railaco Jesuit Secondary School, NOSSEF.
Some years ago, the Jesuits were offered ten hectares of land about seven kilometres from the school. In October of 2019, taking the initiative and drawing on his family background in agriculture, Br Apu was able to organise the ‘dormers’ (as they are affectionately known) to begin work on a farm. This would provide food not only for the ‘dormers’, but for the Railaco Jesuit community, and other students in the NOSSEF canteen.
Fr Bong, from our sister parish at the Railaco Jesuit Mission in East Timor sends us his Christmas Blessings and a message of thanks to all of us for our ongoing support. The message goes on to say: “Here in Railaco, we try to spread love through our works of charity. And right now, we’re doing it with YOUR help, the people of St Canice’s. YOU are with us in MISSION.”
When a ‘widows mite’ adds up to an incredible $4,500 donation for the boys dormitory at Nossef in Railaco, it’s time to celebrate. We heap loads of thanks on the wonderful community of David’s Place for this effort.￼ Personal contributions ranging from only a matter of cents, to asking friends to support a good cause, and even creating paintings that were sold to raise additional monies￼.
Parishioner of St Canice's, Michael Musgrave, has been closely linked to the sister parish relationship at the Railaco Jesuit Mission in East Timor. In 2019, the first-ever 'immersion' tour of St Canice parishioners and two people from Jesuit Mission Australia went to Railaco to get to know their 'neighbours' better.
A rewarding evening listening to and understanding better the emotions and personal impacts of the 'immersion' experience of St Canice parishioners to the Jesuit Railaco Mission last June.
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.
It had never occurred to me that after PNG, East Timor is Australia’s closest neighbour. Far closer than other neighbours we may be more familiar with such as New Zealand or perhaps Fiji. Australians can travel to the capital Dili on a comfortable modern jet from Darwin in less time than it takes to fly from Sydney to Melbourne. Our neighbours in East Timor of course live in a very different neighbourhood. But the smiles and the welcomes are as warm as any we could hope for from our neighbours back home.