National Shrine of MHC of Fatumaca, Timor Leste, 26 September 2020 -- On the last Saturday of the month of September, the Salesian Family in Timor-Leste commemorated one year of the passing away of Fr. João de Deus Pires, SDB, a great salesian missionary for 61 years in Timor-Leste.
The commemoration started with the Eucharistic celebration presided over by the TLS Provincial, Fr Apolinário Neto, SDB, and concelebrated by some Salesian priests. In his homily, Fr Apolinário stated regarding the life of the late missionary that he was truly an evangelizer in proclaiming God’s kingdom. What he has done during his lifetime was in line of the life of Jesus Christ: preaching the Gospel and defending the rights of the people for justice, peace and freedom.
Before the Mass ended, there were three witnesses who gave their testimony on the life of the late missionary. They were the past pupils of Fatumaca, namely the Chief of Defence Force, Major General Lere Anan Timur and the Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry, Hon. José Lucas do Carmo da Silva and the FMA Provincial Vicar, Sr. Sebastiana Costa FMA.
After the celebration, there was lunch offered by the community to all participants. After a break, the Provincial led the procession accompanied by the friends of Fr. João, SDBs, FMAs and other religious sisters bringing flowers and candles to the cemetery, to the tomb where Fr. João's remains are at rest. Though his physical presence has gone, yet the missionary and self-offering spirit of Fr Joao will always be alive in the hearts of Salesians and the faithful mostly in the eastern part of Timor-Leste. The Salesians and the past pupils will carry on the legacy of this great missionary and pass it on to the next generations.