Community rebuilds upon this rock...stone by stone


Catholic Mission Timor Leste News Story
In Ossu, all generations contribute stones to building a better church.
One hundred and fifty kilometres from Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, is the small village of Ossu. In Australia, that’s not too far a drive - but in Timor-Leste, it's a five-hour journey.

In many places the roads are ruined from war and neglect. This is the legacy of the violence that the Timorese suffered in their struggle to shake off the yoke of Indonesian occupation and assert their independence in 1999. Before they fled, the occupiers murdered many and burned, looted and destroyed vital infrastructure.

The faith community is the bedrock of Timorese society. Buoyed by their Catholic faith, the people of Timor-Leste might be materially poor, but they are spiritually rich.

In Ossu, the local parish is a thriving one; 21,000 people who attend Mass at St Theresina.

Father Tiago Soares da Costa has been parish priest at Ossu for three years and during that time has seen the number of people attending Mass grow exponentially. Fifteen hundred people fit in the current building, while there are a further thousand people outside.

None of them can hear him, as there is no sound system, but they are together, in community, and praying from the heart.

Fr Tiago is eager to rebuild St Theresina’s to accommodate the growing parish, and due to the dilapidated condition of the building itself.

He has started a ten cent fund in the community, so that each time anyone attends Mass, they donate ten cents, and bring a rock, which will be used in the foundations of the new church.

Stone by stone, the people of Ossu, in Timor-Leste are rebuilding their community and their church.

Stone by stone, the parish of Ossu in Timor-Leste is binding its community in faith. It is a foundation image as old as Christianity. As Jesus said to his disciple Simon/Peter: "On this rock I will build my Church".

The people of Timor-Leste need support in their endeavours and aid agency Catholic Mission is ready to give them a helping hand.

Catholic Mission's major appeal in October, Mission Month, is for Timor-Leste.

"World Mission Month is a time for us to recognise that we all need to build, stone by stone, our faith, love and compassion for each other,” Catholic Mission National Director Martin Teulan.

"Donations make a world of difference to vulnerable people, fragile communities and in educating a new generation of Church leaders. This mission is nowhere more pressing than in Timor-Leste."

You can make a Mission Month donation through parish appeal envelopes, online at or by calling 1 800 257 296 for further information.

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Visit Mary MacKillop East Timor Mission

Tags: Timor-Leste   Catholic Mission   Mission Month

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