East Timor: Jesuit mission opens new parish and hospital

Source: Fides

The Jesuits in East Timor have opened a new parish church and medical centre. More than 2,000 people attended the consecration service of the new parish church of Our Lady of Fatima in Railaco presided by the Bishop of Dili, Mgr Virgilio do Carmo da Silva SDB, on 7 October. Fr Joseph Nguyen Thanh Phuong SJ has been appointed as parish priest.

During the Mass of Thanksgiving concelebrated with several Jesuit and diocesan priests, Bishop da Siva 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 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.

Australian Sr Rita Hayes, who spent 15 years in East Timor as a missionary, said: "The community has matured over the years."

The people of Railaco are also celebrating their new health centre: the 'Centro de Saude Daniel Ornelas' (CSDO). 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 Centre 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 Centre, 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 Centre, 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 centre," 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 centre 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 the centre is named after. Brother Ornelas was engaged in health services in rural East Timor from 1962 to 2009.

Tags: East Timor, Railaco, Mgr Virgilio do Carmo da Silva SDB

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