Over the years, the collaboration and the sharing of experiences, on top of the sharing of resources needed for the mission in Railaco, have been quite an enriching experience of our being a local church reaching out to one another overseas as good neighbors do.
Thankfully, the recent floods and spread of Covid in East Timor have not impacted the people of Railaco in a big way. In heavily populated areas such as the capital Dili and some other areas, Jesuit Social Services Timor-Leste has been very actively involved in distributing food, clothing and blankets to those affected. Fr Bong reports from Railaco that plans for 2021 for the Mobile Medical Clinic and Children’s Feeding Program just continue as before.
he President of the Republic of Timor Leste, Francisco Guterres, conferred￼ the ‘Sergio Vieira de Mello’ Award for the promotion of Human Rights to Fr Bong of Our sister parish in Railaco Mission for the excellent service of promoting rights of the child to food and nutrition with the Children’s Feeding Program.
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.