Bishop blesses Chapel in Timor-Leste

Bishop Michael McKenna and five representatives from the Diocese of Bathurst attended a ceremony at Cairui, Diocese of Baucau, in Timor-Leste’s central highlands for the dedication of the St John de Brito Chapel. Cairui is part of the Parish of Laleia, which has not had a permanent chapel for religious services and gatherings for over 30 years. The Chapel’s construction has been majority-funded by the Diocese of Bathurst through the generosity of all parishes giving to the Bishop of Bathurst’s Christmas appeals for the Missions. The annual appeals from 2012-2014 raised over $130,000.

While the Chapel is small in comparison to many churches in the Diocese, it will seat 120-130 people. It has been constructed in a traditional Timor-Leste style using modern materials. The project has been 10 years in the planning and, until the Diocese of Bathurst became involved, it looked to be an impossible dream.

The site preparation and construction phases have taken four years. The project manager is Frei Hermano Filipe, a Portuguese Capuchin and Parish Priest of Laleia. Architectural design and engineering firms from Lisbon, Portugal have been engaged on a pro bono basis and visited the site during all critical phases of the Chapel’s construction. It is already recognised that the Chapel, upon completion, will be a unique house of worship and one destined to become a national pilgrimage site for this very Catholic country.

The date chosen for the dedication of the Chapel, being the 24th May, is the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia. It provides yet another important and tangible link between the Diocese of Bathurst and the struggling missionary Churches in the three Timor-Leste dioceses. Timor-Leste remains the least resourced church in the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences for Asia.         

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