St Damian Clinic - always room at the inn


World Mission Month News Story
Sr Yohan with patient Nico at the Baucau clinic.

In 1989, the then Bishop of Timor-Leste, Carlo Belo, SDB, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, invited The Congregation of the Sisters of the Followers of Jesus to work in Baucau with health care and to assist people with leprosy.

While curable, sadly there are still people suffering from the disease. Catholic Mission supports many centres around the world that not only treat people who suffer from leprosy, but heal them from the associated stigma. People’s lives are changed monumentally, by simple acts of compassion.

The Sisters opened the St Damian Clinic for those suffering from leprosy in 1989, using a building which served as both a clinic and their convent.

With Catholic Mission’s assistance, the Sisters have been able to move to a one-and-a-half hectare site where they plan to build a new convent and a clinic. The Sisters want to stay close to the patients suffering with leprosy - the people who have grown to love and trust the Sisters, and who form the core of their ministry.

Overcoming fear through education and understanding

At 25, Joanico (Niko) Philipe da Costa from Ossu is the youngest of the patients cared for at Baucau. He became sick with leprosy at 16, but quickly sought care from the Sisters so has no physical signs of having suffered through the disease. Niko has lived in the clinic for nine years and assists the Sisters in caring for the other men.

It is through education and understanding that fear and prejudice towards Leprosy patients is changing. The St Damian Clinic in Baucau, Timor-Leste offers all the people living there personal dignity.

Throughout October (World Mission Month), we are all called upon to challenge our own prejudices and fears that we may carry.

If you would like to know more about projects that Catholic Mission supports around the world or to make a donation, visit

« Return to news list