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Don Bosco in the mountains of Timor Leste

By Fr. Jacinto Gusmao, SDB

Quelicai, Timor Leste, 24 April 2018 -- The smallest Salesian community in Timor Leste is Quelicai, at present with only two permanent Salesians - Good Shepherds of 23.000 Catholic faithful scattered in dozens of mountain villages around the Matebian (Sacred Mountain of all Timorese people, 2700 m above the sea level). During the heroic times of Fr. Joao de Deus and Fr. Magalhaes, who reached Quelicai in 1962, until the official establishment of the Parish of St. Teresa of Child Jesus in 2014, there was a long journey. At present Fr. Justiniano (In charge of the community and parish priest) and Fr. Jacinto (assistant parish priest and boarding house in charge) are the only resident SDB.

Over the years the numerous Catholic community was closely accompanied by the Salesian pastors in many ways: around the 15 chapels there is always visible one school. The Salesian spirit, preventive system of Don Bosco and evangelization through education was always the trademark of Quelicai. Now the parish counts 13 Catholic schools with almost 2100 students and more than 15 pastoral centres in all four directions from the Quelicai center. There is a large boarding house (Lar) for 60 students and vibrant Oratory with many active groups of the Salesian Youth Movement with their animators.

During a vibrant 3 hours long open forum during the 72 participants expressed their gratitude, joy and also their expectation for the future. Remarkable was the great number of young people among the adult members of parish council and very dynamic - active way of sharing by many young and senior leaders. Great joy is the sacrificed and joyful accompaniment of the Salesians who are teaching in the schools, available for the mountain chapel services and helping to improve the poor chapels and other necessary infrastructures.

The Quelicai parish people face also challenge of large distance and difficulty to reach the remote villages (transportation, road conditions), challenge of connection with the world wide Salesian Family (ADMA and DB Alumni are hungry for the formation materials), challenge of few pastoral workers - especially the girls miss one Congregation of Sisters in Quelicai, challenge of more numerous Salesian community (the two present SDB do their best to serve the large community but are getting tired or sick due to the overload).

And the vibrant assembly was concluded with a simple consideration by one of the lay leaders: "60 years ago Jesus sent the sons of Don Bosco to Quelicai and we believe in God's Love. We are very grateful for the gift of faith and Salesian spirit and we would like to be accompanied by the Salesians also in the future!"












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