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Br. Michael De Waas, Councillor General, visited Timor Leste

25/10/2012: East Timor - Photo gallery

I returned to Rome after a very inspiring visit to Timor Leste (Province of Melbourne) from September 25 to October 02. I would like to share some of my personal reflections on the visit.

I had some very encouraging conversations with our four brothers and a few others who are closely associated with our mission there. I was able to meet the brothers as a group to share their own experiences and vision for Timor Leste. The informal conversations with them spread over eight days were very fruitful, enriching and inspiring.  The Brothers were excellent hosts. They took care of me very well. I enjoyed their company very much and my time in Baucau.  

The brothers were very generous exposing me to many experiences from the time I arrived in Dili. They included a congratulatory ceremony for one of the Loretto Sisters, visits to the Catholic Teachers’ College (ICFP), the Marist Aspirancy house, two projects (Oasis and Ponte Leste) funded by MAPS and another supported by other agencies in Australia. I attended at a dinner hosted by the community for a group of students from Australia who were having their own immersion experience in Timor Leste.

I was impressed by the mission of our four brothers in Baucau, a continuation of the work the Brothers began in the year 2000. The present mission of the brothers, both in the Teachers’ College and the Formation house, gives clear witness that they are working hard to prepare young people for leadership in Timor Leste. I was happy to meet a good cross section of the staff and students in the college who are the beneficiaries of the many services that the Brothers are providing.

The young aspirants for Marist religious life are well motivated. I could sense their keenness to follow in the steps of St. Marcellin. I believe that the formation program needs further assistance either from the Province or the Institute. Baucau, and I guess the whole country, looks like very fertile ground for vocation promotion. I believe it’s worth investing our resources - personnel and others – to profit by the opportunities East Timor presents to the Institute at this particular moment of our history.

 I was struck by the number of young people here in Baucau who are eager to learn. There is so much potential for education and formation. I consider it a wonderful venue for Mission Ad Gentes activities. It was heartening to learn that 98% of the population is Catholic and 52% of them are under 15 years of age. My limited association with the group called “Companions of Champagnat” tells me that it provides a very helpful base for the promotion of vocations for both lay and consecrated Marist religious life.

The Marist Asia Pacific Solidarity (MAPS) deserves heartiest congratulations for their efforts to support the various projects they are funding in Timor Leste. It is my impression that the funds are being used very well for developing the talents and abilities of the children and young people in the country.

I left Timor Leste with some precious memories and feelings. Young people in Baucau did touch my life. They also have challenged me about our mission. The simplicity and generosity of people attracted me to their life style. East Timor and its people have invited me to appreciate the meaning of “going to a new land” and experiencing a “new way of being brother”. I believe the Institute has a significant place in East Timor to carry our out the mission of Marcellin Champagnat in the way of Mary.

I am grateful to our brothers in Baucau for exposing me to a privileged moment for experiencing the life of the people here for at least a brief moment. In my opinion the Brothers get along well with the local church, members of other religious congregations and many others who support their mission in various ways.  They seem to have found a good network of relationships to support themselves as human beings and their purpose in the mission. I admire their missionary spirit and their own appreciation to their vocation to be fully present here in East Timor.  I would like to thank Bro. Julian Casey, Provincial of Melbourne, for his leadership and the support he and his council are extending to the brothers there. 

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Br. Michael De Waas,Councillor General

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