Jesuit Asia Pacific Conference
Dili (Agenzia Fides) - The mission of the Jesuits in East Timor makes progress: as Fides learns, a historic mission of the religious has become a parish church and a new medical center has also been opened, which in particular will help people in rural areas.
On October 7, the Catholic community of Railaco rejoiced with the Jesuit community and with the whole Church of East Timor: the Bishop of Dili, Mgr. Virgilio do Carmo da Silva SDB, consecrated the new parish of Our Lady of Fatima, a recent construction, entrusting it to the Jesuit of Vietnamese origin Joseph Nguyen Thanh Phuong SJ as parish priest. More than 2,000 faithful arrived in Railaco to welcome the Bishop and attend the celebration.
The Bishop celebrated the Mass of Thanksgiving with several Jesuit and diocesan priests, and in his message to the community, he said: "It is important to recognize this parish as your milestone. You have succeeded in building a beautiful church, you are a prosperous community with 11,000 faithful. I wish you one day to create ad gentes missionaries, since the Church of Railaco was helped by missionary priests. It is my fervent hope that missionaries are born who carry out elsewhere, what missionaries have done here in Railaco".
During Mass a Catholic layman of the place traced the history of the parish of Railaco since the arrival of the first Jesuits. Fr. Joaquim Sarmento SJ, Regional Superior of Jesuits in East Timor, reminded the faithful: "The church is built on the foundations of your faith: the church is a spiritual building. The true body of the church is built by the faith of the people".
The next day, the Bishop presided the Mass to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation to 700 young people. "The community has matured over the years", shared Australian Sr. Rita Hayes, who spent 15 years in East Timor as a missionary.
Another event aroused joy and hope: the recent inauguration of the new "Centro de Saude Daniel Ornelas" (CSDO) health center, part of the Jesuit's commitment in Timor in the field of healthcare. In addition to providing medical services to students and staff at Colégio de Santo Inácio de Loiola (CSIL) and the Sao Joao de Brito Institute, the Health Center will serve the local community of Ulmera and the large district of Liquicá, where medical services are lacking and inadequate.
"People living in the most remote areas of the district have no access to a clinic to monitor their health and receive treatment" said the Director of the Center, Sister Eliza Fernandes. "The nearest hospital is a 90-minute drive in the capital Dili. This means a delay in care and great risk of death". Sister Eliza says that with the opening of the Health Center, village patients will be able to obtain medical checkups and treatments. The presence of a "mobile clinic" will also help considerably, even to bring healthcare directly to people.
The initiative has generated gratitude from the authorities: "We are grateful to the Jesuit mission for having built this health center", said Joao Nascimento Braz, a district department employee in Bazartete.
During the inaugural Mass, Don Joaquim Sarmento SJ, superior of the Jesuits of Timor, recognized the generosity of the people who made the health center possible and recalled that Sant'Ignazio was actively seeking benefactors in Rome to help treat people affected by the plague.
Sarmento paid homage to Brother Daniel Ornelas SJ, who inspired the name of the health center. Brother Ornelas was engaged in health services in rural East Timor from 1962 to 2009. The Center, following this work, hopes to contribute to improving the living conditions of people in rural villages. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 26/10/2017)