2022-11-11 EAST TIMOR

Marist Presence in Timor-Leste

Following the 1999 independence referendum in Timor-Leste, Brothers from the Melbourne Province arrived in 2000 at the request of the Bishop of the Diocese of Baucau to commence a teacher training college. Under the leadership of successive Brothers, the College, officially Instituto Cat├│lico Para Forma├ž├úo de Professores (ICFP), has developed and grown in stature and reputation. The ICFP is regarded as one of the tops performing tertiary Institutions in the country.

Over the past 22 years, Marist connections with East Timor have grown and deepened. Australian Marist Solidarity (AMS) has provided funding for a range of projects, including reconstruction of schools, post-school skilling, social support, and inclusion opportunities. Negotiations to establish a Marist school in East Timor started over 15 years ago. They have now been successful, and a school is being built in Lautem within the Baucau Diocese.

Since the Australian Province decided to accept East Timorese candidates, 12 young men have taken First Vows. Half of these are studying at ICFP and another six will pursue further formation at MAPAC in Manila from the start of 2023. There are currently eight second year Novices, and five first year novices.

In addition to the East Timorese, three Brothers administer or teach at the ICFP. One Brother is the Master of Scholastics, one Brother directs the Aspirancy programme, and one Brother directs the Postulancy programme. Another Brother is the Director of Vocations and co-ordinates the Come and See programme. The Brothers also maintain a close interest in the ongoing projects coordinated by AMS.

Brothers from other Provinces have worked in East Timor over the years. This includes Brothers from New Zealand and Brazil.

Marist Life and Mission

PJM (Pastoral Juventude Marista) or Marist Youth Ministry group is comprised of students, Scholastic Brothers and professors from ICFP. The group meets regularly for prayer, formation in youth ministry and Marist spirituality and participates in outreach to needy families and vulnerable people in the Baucau District.

The Marist Brothers administrate the ICFP, that belongs to the Diocese of Baucau. It is an institute of higher education and conducts an accredited Bachelor of Education programme (Primary) supplying teachers for the country. Staff at ICFP have begun to participate in online Marist spirituality and formation programmes conducted by the Marist Mission and Life Formation Team of the Province of Australia.

The first Marist co-educational school is presently undergoing construction at Lautem in the Diocese of Baucau. It is envisaged that the school will become operational in January 2024.

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Article extracted from Star Messenger | Edition 07

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