Read more - Faith Doing Justice
The Jesuits of Timor-Leste
We have been reporting so far about the Colégio de Santo Inácio de Loiola; the Parish, School,
the Feeding Program as also the Clinic and Mobile Clinic at Railaco; the former Jesuit programs
in Suai and Jesuit Social Service. Construction of the Instituto São João de Brito will begin soon
and there will much to be reported in due course.
Now let us tell you a little about the Jesuits in training. It begins with a report by Schol. Nelinho
Alves who is studying in Chennai, India. Here is what he shares with you:
Life seems Wonderful
Timorese Scholastics studying in Berchmans Illam, India.
It has been a wonderful experience for all of us, who visited East Timor recently for our apostolate
home visit. All of us had different apostolates in different places such as in Railaku, Casa de Produção
Audiovisual (CPA) in Dili, Casa Gonzaga (House of the Candidates) at Bairo Pite and Colégio de Santo
Inácio de Loiola in Kasait. We are all very grateful to God because we have seen and experienced the
challenges facing a new young country Timor-Leste and especially the challenges of the mission for the
East Timor Jesuits.
In Railaku we could see how the Jesuits there work very hard in the school, the clinic (+ mobile
clinic) and especially in the pastoral field, in order to make people aware of their faith and their need for
a good education.
At the Jesuit Residence in Taibesi, we could see how CPA is trying to promote justice and the
culture of East Timor. At the house of the candidates we could see how the young boys, who are
considering joining Religious Life in the future, need a good formation in their spiritual as well as their
academic life for the future good of the nation and the church.
In Kasait we experienced the effect
of the Jesuits and the staff, who work very
hard in order to form the students to
become ‘men and women for others’
intellectually and spiritually. All that we
have experienced gave us strength to focus
on our mission of study in India.
Apart from what we have related
above, one of our fellow Jesuits studying in
India viz. Adriano Viera decided to remain
in India. He was very happy to tour other
parts of india and so he visited Goa and
some other places. He had the special experience of travelling alone while visiting those places.
However, he was enjoying his days with some of the other Jesuit communities in India.
There was also this important experience after returning from our apostolate home visit to India.
We were very happy to welcome the new Timorese scholastics, who had completed their Juniorate
formation in Jogjakarta (Indonesia) and had come to continue their special studies in India. The new
scholastics are Adre Moniz, Joao da Cunha, Martinho Punef, Marcos Apu Colo, Joemitu Cofitalan, and
Antonito dos Santos Martins. They are with us in this photo.
There was a bit of a problem with regard to their rooms when they arrived in India. Since the
whole building where they would be staying was still being repaired, they had all to sleep together in the
TV room - like refuges so to say - for more almost a whole week. That was their first experience!
However, they looked very happy because they had arrived safe and sound in India. One of the
experiences that our new comers have to face is about their admission to the college and their
extension visa in immigration office. However, these problems are handled well by Sch. Levy and
After we had all settled down in our rooms, we (the Berchmans Illam scholastics) together with
the scholastics who are studying at Satya Nilayan had a small welcoming party for the new comers. We
had a very good time because we shared our experiences of life in Indonesia, East Timor and in India and
had some introductions of academic life to each other especially to the new comers.
We had also an important meeting which was about the context, vision and mission of East Timor
Jesuits. It took place in Satya Nilayan where some of our scholastics are doing their philosophy studies.
All of us shared our feelings, whatever we felt important and good for the future of Society of Jesus’
mission in East Timor.
From all the experiences mentioned before, I would like to tell you all that in this month we are
preparing ourselves spiritually to reflect and celebrate the feast day of our Commander, the Founder of
the Society of Jesus on 31st of this month (July) and we are also preparing ourselves academically for the
coming first internal assessment (CIA) test in our college which will take place from 8 th- to 14th August.
Please pray for us that we do well in our test.
Now let us tell you a little about CASA GONZAGA:
Welcome! This is the house for the Candidates viz. those who have completed their High School and
have expressed a desire to join the Jesuits. There is a selection process however, after which the
selected candidates have to live for two years at Casa Gonzaga. During this time they are given intensive
training in Portuguese and English, in Catechism, in Jesuit spirituality, and in Psycho-spirituality. Within
these two years, the candidates are expected to get to know themselves, their desires and motivations
more deeply, and grow in their own relationships with God and with others. They get regular spiritual
guidance and have the opportunity to spend weekends at one or the other works of the Jesuits. This
gives them time to discern whether they do have a vocation or not. Living in the community, especially,
helps them go through all these processes.
This is the process for accepting ‘Candidates’:
= Towards the end of the school year, announcements are made in various schools and parishes and
youth are invited to register. They are then called for an examination and are tested for their
knowledge of Catechism, Portuguese, English and Mathematics.
= Successful candidates are called for an interview.
= Then, those who are accepted are called for some days of orientation in January
= The 2 year Candidacy Program begins in February.
Those studying in the University or who are already employed can be part of the VOCATION DIRECTIONS
PROGRAM (VDP). Under this program they can continue living at home but have to be in regular contact
with the Directors of Casa Gonzaga and take part in some of the important activities like recollections,
retreats, community activities and reflections, etc.. We hope to get such applicants in due course.
At present we have 8 candidates (3 second year and 5 first year) at Casa Gonzaga. This complex, as seen
from the entrance, is shown below:
The living rooms
In front of the classroom are our 8 candidates and in front of them we see these structures on
The existing Chapel
which will remain.
These two blocks will be demolished and
and a 2 storey L shaped building will be
constructed in their place
Here are our 3 second year and 5 first year candidates standing in
front of their classroom.
Here are the 8 candidates at Casa Gonzaga, which is
situated in a part of Dili called Bairo Pite.
It is not very far from the Cathedral. Since the space is
fairly limited, it has been decided to demolish two of
the existing structures and replace them with a new
two storey structure that will include a classroom, a
library and a computer room, the dining room and the
kitchen, and 6 small bedrooms that can contain 4
persons per room..
The Candidacy Program is meant to help the youth,
who have expressed a desire to enter Religious Life, to prepare themselves for the long period of
formation of a Jesuit Priest or Brother. The Jesuit Region of Timor-Leste has been blessed with many
vocations which we can see from the figures on the next page. These are the Jesuits in formation:
Novitiate 1st Year in Dili:
Novitiate 2nd Year in Dili:
Juniorate in Sri Lanka:
Philosophy in India
Regency in Timor Leste
College Studies in India
Special studies in Japan
Special studies in the Philippines
Theology in Australia:
Theology in Rome
In various stages of formation we have 34 Jesuits + 10 Novices (1st and 2nd year) + 8 candidates. This is a
real blessing for this Region and I am sure that many Provinces around the world will be envious.
At present we have with us two young volunteers viz.
Anthony Spiteri and Tim Robinson, who have come
from the Cardoner Project of the Jesuits of Australia, for
a 3 month mission exposure in Timor-Leste. They have
been staying with the candidates and will also be going
to Railaco for further experiences.
to welcome our friends from Singapore. They are part of
the Choir of the St. Ignatius’ Church there and had come to
spend a week in Dili to see the works of the Jesuits. In the
photograph we see Miriam Lee, Deborah Lee, Joseph Tan,
Kristie Lai and Ben Woon along with Fr. Weyms as they
were just leaving for the airport. We thank them sincerely
for their visit.
Now, I want to tell you something about the Arca Seminarii! The Jesuit Region of Timor-Leste has to
care for all the expenses of Jesuits in training i.e. during their formation which includes their daily living
costs, cost of training and the travel costs to the various countries they have to go to. Every
Province/Region has to build up a Fund known as the “Arca Seminarii” which is able to meet all these
expenses. We are in the process of building up this Fund and we are truly grateful for the support which
we have been receiving from the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, the Province of Australia and other
Provinces for their support.
We wish to express our gratitude to all those who have helped us in the past, and will help us in the
future, to build up the funds needed for the Arca Seminarii. At present some of our friends in Singapore,
who are connected with the St. Ignatius Church there, are collecting furniture that will be useful for the
new CASA GONZAGA. The will also be collecting other useful items for use of the Jesuit Social Service
team. We have already reported about the containers which we had received in the past from Australia
and Singapore. THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN.
And now for a little information of the other Jesuits of Timor-Leste:
These are five of the six ordained Timorese Jesuits who are actively involved in various ministries. The
sixth viz. Fr. Venancio, is just now doing his Tertianship in Sri Lanka.
We also have Fr. Felgueiras and Fr. Martins, two Portuguese
Jesuits, who have been working in Timor-Leste from before
the days of the occupation by the Indonesian forces. They
have assisted a lay organisation to set up a school in Dili. At
present this school is being expanded thanks to the
assistance which they have been able to generate for them.
And here are the Jesuits from other Provinces who have come to assist the Region of Timor-Leste:
Fr. EJ Gerilla
We, who come from the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, USA, Indonesia, Portugal and India, are all looking
forward to the day when all the young Jesuits in Formation will be back in the country. After their many
years of formation and exposure to the work of the Jesuits in other Provinces and Regions, they will be
there to help their young country and its people.
Let us go back some years:
It was early September 1999, a few days after the declaration of independence. Two of our Jesuits were
victims of the uprising that took place. We did not forget to remember them this September.
Remembering our two Jesuits
Fr. Tarcisius Dewanto, 34
Father Karl Albrecht Karim Arbie, 70
On 30 August 1999, in a UN-sponsored referendum, an overwhelming majority of East Timorese voted
for independence from Indonesia. Immediately following the referendum, anti-independence Timorese
militias — organized and supported by the Indonesian military — commenced a punitive scorched-earth
campaign. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and forcibly pushed 300,000 people
into West Timor as refugees. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_East_Timor)
Jesuit Father Tarcisius Dewanto, 34, a native of Magelang in Central Java province, was killed in the Suai
church along with East Timor natives Father Hilario Madeira and Father Francisco Soares on Sept. 6
when armed militiamen attacked the people who had taken refuge in the church.
Eyewitnesses in Suai said that Fathers Dewanto and Soares tried to prevent the armed militiamen from
attacking the people in the church in Suai. Wearing their clerical robes, the two priests came out of the
rectory to meet and negotiate with the militiamen. Father Dewanto was the first to come out. A bullet
struck him down. Father Soares, who followed Father Dewanto, was hit in the head. The two priests fell
in front of the church.
Five days after the Suai massacre, Fr Karl Albrecht, 70, a German born Jesuit who had come to Indonesia
in 1959 and to East Timor in the early 1990s, was shot dead by an intruder in the grounds of the Jesuit
house in Dili. Karl, who was the Country Representative of Jesuit Refugee Service in East Timor at the
time, was due to celebrate his Golden Jubilee as a Jesuit in just three days.
On 6th September this year, the day on which Tarcisius Dewanto
was killed 15 years ago, we went after Holy Mass, celebrated by
Fr. EJ Gerilla, who is the Director of Jesuit Social Service, we went
to pray at the graves of Tarcisius and Karl Albrecht. In the
photograph you see Fr. Jeremy Clarke spreading some flowers on
the graves which are in the garden of the Jesuit Residence in
Fr. Jeremy, who will be taking over from Fr. Phil Crotty the role of
Director of the Mission Office in Australia, was with us for about a
week after he had visited Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar.
We look up to these Jesuits who have shown us that we have to be prepared for anything that can
happen to us as we work in the Vineyard of the Lord.
Fr. Pedro Arrupe had this to say to all of us Jesuits:
Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
We Jesuits of the Region of Timor-Leste sincerely request your prayers that we take seriously what Fr.
Arrup has told us and truly fall in love in an absolute final way. With prayers and God’s blessings.
- All the Jesuits of Timor Leste and those on a mission here -