St Mary of the Angels Geelong

&

St Mary Immaculate Viqueque

-- A Partnership between Parishes -- 

 

 

 “A little for some is a lot for others”
Fr Dionisio Sarmento, Parish Priest of Viqueque

 

 

Why a Parish Partnership?

St Mary of the Angels Parish takes seriously its obligation to facilitate spiritual growth and address issues of justice and unjust suffering in the world. The St Mary's Parish mirrored the experience of many other Catholic parishes that are also courageously examining their lifestyles. A common issue of concern is the contradiction of relatively rich Catholics living in a global world of greater hunger and poverty.

 

The words of Jesus when He says:

      Don’t store up riches here on earth;

      Blessed are the meek, poor, and those who mourn;

      How difficult it is for the rich to get into heaven.

 

St Mary's has always been active in providing support and assistance to people of the Parish and the wider Geelong community. However, to develop our Christian mission a need to extend the Parish commitment beyond its traditional or "comfort zone" was seen as desirable. It noted that many parishes addressed this issue by forming alliances (partnerships or twinning arrangements) with a parish in a poor communities/parishes and extending this relationship by taking small groups to visit, serve and learn.

 

After visiting these communities, parishioners are returning and organising development projects involving pastoral care, education, water delivery, health clinics, agricultural projects, the sale of local handicrafts, and so on.

 

The renewal of faith experienced in both parishes involved becomes an awakening at all levels of parish life. It means that we are here to love, to care for, to feed, to teach and to protect each other.

 

This approach was seen as a good match to the St Mary's Parish's needs.

 

Why Twin with Timor-Leste and Viqueque District in Particular?

Timor-Leste is the world’s newest nation and one of Australia's closest neighbours.

90% of the Timor-Leste population is Catholic and views the Church as the only entity that stayed and gave them hope through 24 years of illegal Indonesian occupation; it is estimated that 183,000 Timorese died.

 

Timor-Leste is one of the poorest nations in the world, ranking 162 out of 182 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index. Australia ranks number 2.

Over half the population lives below the poverty line of less than one dollar per day. The unemployment rate is high, at 61%. The population is one of the fastest growing in the world.

 

During World War 2, Timor-Leste offered a strategic buffer zone to stop the Japanese army invading Australia. The loyalty and care given to Australians by the Timorese are unique in the annals of war. 40,000 Timorese civilians were killed as a result of their assistance to Australia. No other nation has lost so many citizens as a result of helping Australian soldiers.

 

A number of Victorian local government councils have partnered with Timor-Leste districts to offer support, friendship and understanding. The City of Greater Geelong and the District of Viqueque were formally linked in 2005. This relationship has been cemented with the formation of the Geelong Friends of Viqueque Committee. This is chaired by a City of Greater Geelong Council member and comprised of Geelong community organisation representatives who have an active association with Viqueque. This committee meets regularly with a declared mission of engaging and involving the Geelong community with the aim of improving understanding and awareness of Timor-Leste. St Mary's parish is a member of this committee.

 

About Viqueque

Viqueque is a city in the south-east of Timor-Leste, 183 km from Dili. Viqueque is the capital of the district of Viqueque. The city has a population of 22,000 and the district has approximately 62,000 inhabitants.

 

Viqueque is remote. It takes up to 8 hours to drive from Dili; during the wet season it can be cut off for weeks. Viqueque is poor, employment is virtually unobtainable and subsistence farming is how most people survive. Electricity is only available to those who have access from 7 pm to 11 pm and there is no sanitation system.

 

The Parish of Mary the Immaculate, Viqueque

Mary Immaculate is an old established Catholic Mission parish which has two sub-parishes – Viqueque and Lacluta. It has 21 Mass centres, spread within the two districts, with a total of 39,000 parishioners (based on the 2009 Parish census). 1200 parishioners are attending the seven local Catholic schools.

 

Contributions for Viqueque Partnership Program

Contributions to the program are welcomed at any time. These may take the form of one-off or regular donations. Regular contributions under “Four for Timor” is an ideal way of committing to the program.

 

What is “Four for Timor”?

It is the simple idea of giving $4 per week ($208 per year). This small amount, when combined with that of all contributors, can make a significant difference for people in Viqueque.

 

A commitment of 12 months allows for forward-planning and budgeting, and continuity of programs in Viqueque. Contributions can be arranged on a quarterly, half-yearly or annual basis.

 

How are contributions used and what can only $4 a week achieve or provide?

Lots – the total collection at Masses in the Parish of Mary the Immaculate is an average of $10 per weekend.

  • Salary support for approximately 85 staff at the seven Viqueque Catholic schools. Many teachers work in a volunteer capacity and those on salary are at levels well below government employed counterparts.
  • Scholarship program for Catholic students for further education at university. The average cost for a student to attend university in Dili and to cover basic expenses is about $500 per year. Most bright students don’t go on to further education as families cannot afford it.
  • Modest travelling expenses for seminarians studying in Dili, to enable them to travel to Viqueque several times a year for family visits.
  • Funds to enable Fr. Divo to provide pastorally for his Parish and parishioners.
  • Funds to repair and maintain Parish facilities, most of which are in a terrible state.
  • Assistance with ongoing costs of the children’s orphanage.

How is the project managed?

The Parish Priest of Mary Immaculate Viqueque Fr Dionisio Diva da Silva Sarmento (Fr Divo) and the Parish Council of Viqueque provide the St Mary’s Parish Pastoral Council Viqueque Sub-committee with an extensive annual budget proposal. The sub-committee reviews and agrees to the proposal to ensure realistic outcomes.

 

Funds contributed are forwarded quarterly to the Parish of Mary the Immaculate via a bank account in Timor established expressly for this project. Signatures of both the Parish Priest (Fr Divo) and the Parish Chairman of the Viqueque Parish are required for withdrawal.

 

Fr Divo provides quarterly reports to the sub-committee and regular feedback is provided to contributors. 

Making a Commitment / Requesting Further Information

 

Please complete the following:

 

I am interested in (indicate selection):  

Making a regular donation of $4 per week
(paid quarterly, half-yearly, or annually):

 
Making a “one-off” donation of $ ____ :  
Being contacted with further information:  
 Name:  
 Address:  
 Contact phone number:  
 Email address:  

 

 

                                 

You can also contact St Mary's Parish Office (Tel 5222 1977) and leave your details. 

 

We will contact you regarding a payment method and use your e-mail for updates and newsletters.

 

Click on the link below to go to the August edition of Viqueque News.

Our 6 teachers who recently travelled to Viqueque had an amazing time.

 

 

VIQUEQUE NEWSLETTER AUGUST 2018