Subject: Fides: Indonesian Christian communities build bridges with East Timor

Also Franciscan charisma spreads in East Timor, with testimony of simple life style and sharing with the poor

ASIA/INDONESIA - Christian communities build bridges with East Timor after a history of painful wounds

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - It was not without pain that East Timor gained independence from Indonesia with a referendum in 1999. The decision for independence freely expressed by the people of Timor was followed by pro-Indonesian militia violence and destruction and a series of casualties and refugees who fled over the border fearing revenge. Eight years on, while East Timor with the help of the United Nations walks swiftly towards full social, civil and political reconstruction as a nation, Christian minority communities in Indonesia want to rebuild relations with East Timor where the Christianity is the principal religion, in fact the population of East Timor is 90% Catholic.

In this picture, the Catholics of St. John Bosco in Jakarta organised a pilgrimage to Dili, the capital of East Timor. The group was composed mainly of lay people close to the Salesian charisma and purpose of the visit was to retrace and discover the development of the Salesian presence in East Timor. To do this, we are informed by ANS news agency, the pilgrims accompanied by Indonesian priest Fr Boedi Soerjonto, visited the 8 houses of Salesian Fathers and the 6 houses of the Daughters of Mary Ausiliatrix present in East Timor. During their stay on the little island the Indonesian pilgrims distributed aid to the local orphans and participated on 20 October in the Salesian parish at Los Palos, at the ordination of 4 Salesians of East Timor.

This is other religious realities in Indonesia (like those of the Franciscans) are working to rebuild the bond between Indonesia and East Timor, under the banner of reconciliation and forgiveness, starting from the life of the people, far from the region of politics. In this direction the Catholic Church, present in both nations, can play a leading role encouraging relations among the respective Catholic communities, twinning among parishes, groups and associations, pilgrimages, reciprocal visits and sharing of experience. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 23/10/2007 righe 26 parole 261)


ASIA/EAST TIMOR - Franciscan charisma spreads in East Timor, with testimony of simple life style and sharing with the poor

Dili (Agenzia Fides) - The new tiny nation of East Timor (born officially on 20 May 2002 ) is progressing in social and economic development and civil and moral growth also thanks to the presence of Franciscans. In East Timor where the people are 95% Catholics the Church plays an important role in education, formation of consciences, promoting 'national dialogue' on justice and reconciliation, providing healthcare and promoting development.

There is a flourishing Franciscan community. The first three Friars came here from Indonesia in 1988 to open a mission Wekiar, an isolated coastal area, 180 km south of the capital Dili. They helped with pastoral work at Alas parish, a 40 km from Wekiar and then at another parish in winning the hearts of the people with simple life style and care for others. Later they were joined by four more Friars and they now teach in high schools and promote rebuilding of schools and homes as well as silent promotion of reconciliation to heal the scars of conflict in 1999 following a referendum which led to independence from Indonesia. The Franciscans have many local vocations.

In 2003 a community a Capuchin Franciscans from the Capuchin province in Portugal opened a mission in Laleia, Manatuto district, in the diocese of Baucau. The patron saint here is Our Lady of the Rosary and the people welcomed the new community as a gift of Mary.

With their life style and charity the friars have become a point of material and spiritual reference for many families. The Capuchins are also involved in re-evangelisation, in keeping with the indications of the Bishop and promote initiatives for young people inclined to frustration, helping them to study and find a job and fostering their human and spiritual growth. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/10/2007 righe 32 parole 312)

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