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By Mr Niel Evangelista, Past Pupil of Don Bosco
GEX Asia-Oceania Regional Councillor

Video Conference (Vietnam, Timor Leste, Philippines) 26 July 2020 -- On the evening of Sunday, 26 July, the first 'team visit' video meeting was held involving the leadership of the Don Bosco Past Pupils Federation of Timor Leste and the EAO regional councillor, Fr Joseph Phuoc, World delegate Br. Dominic Nam and Asia-Oceania GEX councilor Mr. Niel Evangelista. This is the first in the series of EAO virtual Sunday visits to each of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco Federations.

The Timor Leste Past Pupils of Don Bosco (Antigos Alunos de Dom Bosco) claim that more than 25% of Timor Leste's population consider themselves Friends of Don Bosco, although they are not formally enrolled or registered in the Association. On the web you can arrive at a better grasp of the reality of the local Associations (Dili - capital, Manufahi, Oe-Cusse - enclave, Fatumaca).

The current National Federation President, Mr Azevedo Marcal, introduced the reality of the Past Pupils in East Timor and then questions followed from the other participants. Aside from the traditional 9-10 Associations (local centres), there are another 15 new Past Pupil Associations growing around recently started SDB works, some works run by Past Pupils themselves or other non-Salesian institutions (Cristal University, Sao Miguel school, Sao Pedro school, TVET Don Bosco (Centec), or former Aspirants (Beato Felipe Rinaldi of Venilale), Don Bosco Maliana etc).

The most striking characteristic is the focus on young people, almost each local Association (Centre - Union) holds mixed monthly meetings with both - adult and GEX (young past pupils). Also the close synergy between the SYM (Salesian Youth Movement) and the DB Alumni has restarted.

Among the best practices of the Past Pupils in Timor Leste are creative activities to assist young people with soft skills for their future employment. Past Pupils have also founded a Cooperative in order to sustain some apostolic works and the operations of the Federation; the DB Past Pupils ID and registration fee (50 cents of monthly contribution), intense communication system (ad intra - 10+ WhatsApp groups and ad extra website, Facebook pages. Monthly formation through PP meetings (local Association level especially in Dili). At present the Past Pupils, under the supervision of the SDBs, are running one Oratory in the enclave of Oe Cusse (far from the capital of Dili surrounded by Indonesian territory). This apostolic work involves leader formation.

The 9-10 'traditional' or official Associations are accompanied by the SDBs from their own community (Delegate or Rector) and there is also a National Delegate - Fr. Mario do Rosario Costa, based in Dili-Comoro. The first draft of the Delegate's Manual was received and appreciated. Since the geography and infrastructures of the country don't facilitate easy travels, among the dreams of the Past Pupils is to establish a local Association in all 30 municipalities of Timor Leste. They are also actively involved in the preparation of the 100th anniversary of SDB arrival to Timor Leste (1927-2027) with the contribution to the chapel and statue of Saint Salesian Martyr Fr Callisto Caravario, the only Saint who was living in this country (1927-1929).

The main challenge of the Past Pupils is in keeping pace with the interest of the young people and the motivation for belonging to the Past Pupils. The young country (RDTL) has only been independent since May 2002 and consolidation of education, economic self-sustainability and employment of young people are among its main challenges.

At the end of the meeting the GEX regional councillor presented the new regional project for the 150th anniversary, Jubilee Year of the Past Pupils - the Video Talkshow, to be launched on 16 August 2020 as a gift for Don Bosco's 205th birthday. Timor Leste has been chosen as the first Federation for this video. We expect that this new initiative will enhance a better knowledge of the Past Pupils Association in each country and also foster more mutual exchange among the East Asia - Oceania Past Pupils.

National Federation official FB page

Federação Nacional dos Antigos Alunos de Dom Bosco de Timor-Leste

Related news articles:

  • AustraLasia 4960(I) Fifth National Congress of Don Bosco Past Pupils (Timor Leste, 2018)
  • AustraLasia 4519 (II) How to start a new unit of Don Bosco Past Pupils? (Timor Leste, 2017)
  • Boscolink resources on Don Bosco Past Pupils (Timor Leste collection since 2016)

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