Subject: UCAN: Eight New Deacons To Reach Out To Young People, Other Parishioners

ET04042.1476 December 21, 2007 36 EM-lines (455 words)

EAST TIMOR Eight New Deacons To Reach Out To Young People, Other Parishioners

DILI (UCAN) -- More than 5,000 people crowded Dili's Immaculate Conception Cathedral and its grounds on Dec. 8 to witness the ordination of eight young deacons, who will act as a bridge to young people and other parishioners.

Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili presided over the ordination. The bishop said the new deacons, in their 20s and 30s, will especially reach out to help young and old in various parishes of Dili and Baucau dioceses.

Attending the ceremony on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception were 63 priests, 275 nuns, 100 brothers, foreign missioners and government officials.

Bishop da Silva called on the new deacons to be pure and good servants, and to serve the Lord and his people. "Always keep this responsibility in your mind and heart, to be a good shepherd," he told them.

In their parish ministries, the deacons will help with baptisms, assist with new converts from animism, minister to the poor and sick, and evangelize and guide the faithful. Bishop da Silva urged Catholics to pray for and support the deacons, so "from their knowledge, capacity, faith, belief and ability, we will win the Kingdom of Heaven in our beloved Timor Leste (East Timor)."

One newly ordained deacon, Sebastiao Eugenio da Cruz, 32, says he is "so happy" for the opportunity to serve. "Timor Leste has dozens of problems, including the economy, families, politics, education, poverty," he told UCA News. "I want to help in those areas, especially widows and poor children."

Young people should take the time to learn, the new deacon said. He advises them to see the importance of studying and preparing for the future, and "not get involved in politics, least they become the victim of politics itself."

Deacon da Cruz is from Maliana, 150 kilometers west of Dili.

During the ordination, many parishioners took part in traditional dance and songs of praise. They wore traditional woven tais, tribal cloth printed in traditional patterns that is a symbol of East Timor's culture and identity.

Sister Maria Carlina told UCA News she hopes the new deacons will be good servants of Lord, and their families and the community. She believes local people and the international community will regard them as good shepherds.

Albino Gusmao of Suai parish in Dili diocese told UCA News he is very proud of his son Valerio. Such a young man pursuing the life of a priest gives people of Suai great joy and happiness, he said. "We parents guided and helped through his childhood education," the 44-year-old father added. "He continued his studies and now is a deacon. One more phase and he will be a priest."

Dili diocese has 323 local priests in 30 parishes and 251 pastoral centers.

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