It’s a comprehensive ‘photo essay’ from Fr Hyoe Murayama SJ, the Director of our Railaco secondary school, NOSSEF.
Our parish priest, Fr Paul Fyfe SJ says, “This is a shared mission with our sister parish. It has importantly involved the St Canice community in a substantial venture over many years that makes a practical and spiritual difference”.
Others have said:
- It’s a success story. It’s money well-spent
- This is one of the most remarkable reports I have had the pleasure to read. Congratulations to all. How pleased I am to be associated with such a venture. Keep “rattling the cup “.
- This certainly provides a clear update of current and future plans which I’m sure St Canice donors existing and future will be delighted to hear and should enhance their willingness to contribute further to our Railaco project.
- Please let me know when we can donate? We would like to kick things off With $300 donation.
- I can’t believe that a secondary school of 400 students can operate on an annual budget of $70,000.
For easier first reading, we also present Fr Hyoe’s ‘Update from Nossef Railaco’ 4th Qtr 2021 Report in this easy reading text format here below.
To our Friends and Benefactors,
This past year 2021 was also marked with the pandemic. Timor-Leste also faced the destructive power of natural disasters such as heavy rains and flash floods. Since October there have been fewer or sometimes no cases of COVID-19 in the Timor-Leste daily report, but attention still needs to be paid. Our academic year 2021 ended peacefully in Railaco, and we’d like to express our gratitude to all our collaborators and supporters who have helped our teachers and students in this difficult time in various ways through scholarships, teacher salary grants, generous donations of supplies, and prayer messages.
Since mid-September, NOSSEF Secondary School has resumed its regular campus activities. The students express their joy of studying together. They are eager to win in academic competitions. Even though we teachers had to eliminate and shorten the subject content because of the pandemic interruptions, we are motivated to work hard for the students’ progress.
Last year the Jesuits in Timor-Leste were blessed with newly ordained priests, three Timorese and one Indian. Three of them have taught in NOSSEF. Furthermore, one Singaporean Jesuit who has been helping the Jesuit Mission in Timor-Leste for many years also came as a missionary to Timor-Leste.
On reflection, NOSSEF faced many unprecedented events and happenings in 2021. We sometimes cried, were frustrated, and almost despaired. But we received many blessings and experienced the working of God in the form of solidarity and prayer. As a Catholic mission school, we continue to rely on God’s providence and the power of prayer. NOSSA SENHORA DE ROSÁRIO DE FÁTIMA (Our Lady of the rosary of Fátima), pray for us.
Campus Life and Activities
Even though the Ministry of Education had not yet officially announced the reopening of schools in Ermera Municipality, NOSSEF Secondary School decided on Monday, September 13, to conduct the 2nd trimestre exam. Since there was a COVID sanitary fence (=inter- municipality border crossing restriction), we organized two satellite exam venues for the students living in Liquiça Municipality. Suddenly, the Education Minister issued an instruction that evening suspending face-to-face classes at schools in Ermera, so we had to stop the exam on Tuesday. But we came up with the idea of organizing exam venues in 11 different localities, including chapels, community squares, some teachers’ houses, and dorms, so that we could minimize the risk of gathering people from different places. We spent Wednesday to sort out the exam envelopes for 11 different venues. Somehow, we got through the exam from Thursday to Monday, September 16~20. Thank God, there have been no COVID positive cases among us until now.
On September 22, containers from the Rotary Club arrived in Railaco with good musical instruments for NOSSEF. The students were of course excited and made lots of noise trying out the new instruments.
On September 27, Fr EJ, the Railaco parish priest, pronounced his final vows as a Jesuit at a Mass in Railaco Church presided by Fr Joaquim. (Fr EJ teaches economics to Year 12 students). On the same day, the third trimester started in NOSSEF as the Ermera Municipal Education Ministry office gave the green light for face-to- face classes.
COVID-19 began to subside. Little by little, we resumed our ordinary activities such as the monthly flag-raising ceremony and festive lunches commemorating class patron saints.
On October 13, some nurses of Railaco public health centre came to NOSSEF and gave 38 of our students vaccination opportunities.
On October 16 NOSSEF held a Parents’ Meeting, honouring the winner classes in School Festival competitions and distributing report cards for the 1st and 2nd trimesters. In the afternoon of that day, the Dormitory also held its long-awaited Parents’ Meeting at the Boys’ Dorm.
In the following week, the Year 12 students divided into two groups (58 students in each) to make a three-day retreat in Montserrat, Kasait. Deacon Herculano and Sr Natalina SPC accompanied the retreatants. Meanwhile, on October 22, Year 10 and 11 students did community outreach service, collecting and cleaning trash on the roads.
On October 26 the NOSSEF Student Council “KORENOSSEF” conducted a campaign for the election of a new president. On October 29 all the students took part in the voting and elected the new KORENOSSEF president.
On November 5 there was a Priestly Ordination Mass for three Timorese Jesuits— Herculano, Edgerio, and Luis—at Dili cathedral. We are happy and proud of Frs Luis and Herculano, who have taught in NOSSEF. From November 12 to 13, a Leadership formation program for the new NOSSEF Student Council (KORENOSSEF) was held in Montserrat, Kasait. November 12 was the 30th anniversary of the Massacre of Santa Cruz, so they lighted candles in the evening. On November 13 (Saturday), about 200 candidates came to take the written NOSSEF entrance examination.
On November 15, Year 11 students participated in their one-day recollection at Railaco Church, accompanied by SPC sisters and Fr Hyoe. At the same time, Year 10 students carried out a general cleaning (charitable activity), collecting plastic trash in the neighbourhood. Some teachers accompanied them. They also partially participated the retreat session and Mass. The following day, Year 10 students made a one-day recollection (Fr Julio Souza SJ and SPC Sisters accompanied), and Year 11 did general cleaning in the neighbourhood.
As the students have become active again, the school had to deal with some problem students such as a class boycott, an incident of violence between students, and causing a traffic accident (without helmet and license), etc. We have often faced the urgent need of positive school discipline without relying on punitive sanctions or control by fear.
On November 19 the installation of the new NOSSEF Student Council “KORENOSSEF” was held during the Mass. “Soldier of God” medallions, a donation from a friend of Sr Rita Hayes SGS, were distributed to all the teachers and students. On that day, Br Nelson Marques, a Jesuit Seminarian, finally arrived in Railaco after 7 months of flight cancelations in India due to the pandemic. We welcomed him by presenting TAIS and singing the school anthem. He will officially start his teaching experience in NOSSEF this January.
From November 22 to 26, the 3rd trimester exam was conducted. It was our first time to conduct it without any COVID-19 interruption. On November 27 (Saturday), 175 candidates attended the NOSSEF oral entrance exam (interview). 12 teachers formed 6 interviewer groups and checked the candidates from 8:30 until 15:30. 145 passed the interview.
In 2021, NOSSEF newly established a Students Pastoral Team. Its 20 members help organize the students’ recollections and Masses. After the exam week, the NOSSEF Pastoral Team participated in the service-learning formation program in Mobile Clinic (Fr Bong) and Feeding Program. On the last day, the members gathered at NOSSEF and had a 90- minute sharing about their experience in Mobile Clinic and Feeding Program.
On December 3, First Friday Mass was celebrated at Railaco church. Many intentions were offered together—the commemoration of St Francis Xavier, installation of the NOSSEF Student Pastoral Team, and the blessing of pencils and pens of Year 12 students for their National Exam. On December 9, Fr Philip Heng, a Singaporean Jesuit, visited our school. He has been sending significant amounts of donations to the Jesuit mission in Timor-Leste for many years, and now he has dedicated himself to becoming a missionary in Timor.
On December 10, NOSSEF held a parent- teacher meeting and distributed report cards of Year 10 and 11 students for the 3rd trimester. After the plenary session, each class held its parent-teacher meeting and had a light meal together. All food was prepared by the students.
On the following day, at Railaco Church, there was a Thanksgiving Mass (First Mass) of four newly ordained Jesuit priests: Herculano, Edgerio, Luis, and Saji (India). Fr Saji George also did his teaching experience in NOSSEF a few years ago. He was ordained last year in India and now came back as a missionary to start his mission in Suai.
From December 13 to 17, all our Year 12 students took the National Examination and Local Examination at NOSSEF. On the last day of that exam week, there was a small farewell for Year 12 students. They exchanged greetings, shook hands or hugged one another with tears, and ended up dancing DAHUR together. Since it was the last working day for the teachers, we had lunch together. Some teachers volunteered to prepare the food. From December 19 to 22, we teachers had a retreat and recreation in Lospalos. Fr Roberto Encarnação SJ guided our Ignatian retreat. We also visited Jaco Island, famous for its beautiful beach, and shared time in a prayerful atmosphere.