Quelicai, Timor Leste, 3 October 2020 -- On the first Saturday of October the Salesian parish community in Quelicai celebrated the belated feast day of their patroness saint, St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The feast day was moved due to the inauguration of a monument dedicated to the late missionary, Fr. João de Deus Pires, SDB. That parish and a ‘boarding house for a thousand young people’ were the last work of this great Salesian missionary.
The celebration was started with the Holy Mass, presided over by the local bishop, His Excellency Bishop Basílio do Nascimento and concelebrated by some Salesian and Claretian priests. In his homily, Bishop Basílio emphasized God’s calling to each person as what happened to Abraham; the difference of response given by each person, here he gave an example in the persons of St. Therese and the Salesian missionary, Fr. João de Deus Pires, SDB and lastly on the monument dedicated to Fr. João was a silent testimony of an expression of gratitude from the people of Quelicai.
After the Mass, before the blessing of the monument and signing on the plaque, there was a cultural, a sacred ceremony performed by two designated groups, none other than the orphans once raised by their much-loved shepherd, Fr. João during the difficult time of war.
In the following, the bishop and the TLS Provincial vicar, Fr. Manny Pinto, SDB accompanied by the parish priest, Fr. Justin, SDB, blessed and inaugurated the monument witnessed by some representatives from the Office of the President, one member of Parliament some other dignitaries. There was lunch offered to all people. Since it was a parish fiesta, there were songs and dances performed by different groups and people felt animated. There was a song entitled ‘Cala-te e vai!’ composed by our Salesian cleric, Noel João Rosário dos Santos SDB, played and sung by his brother and sister, Ruben and Aida Bosco, our past pupils and a former animator of the oratory. It really touched and hit the bottom of the heart of the audience and many were moved to tears because it fully depicted the missionary life of Fr. João. The expression ‘Cala-te e vai!’ (English translation: shut-up and go!) was the magic word to Fr. João while receiving the obedience from his superior to go to the mission land of Timor in late of 1957.
It was an historic moment for the Salesian Family in the TLS Vice-Province and particularly for the people of Quelicai. Be that as it may, there was an invitation to all members of the Salesian Family most especially of the SDBs to become missionaries following the footsteps of Fr. João de Deus Pires, SDB.