July 03, 2012
St Mary MacKillop’s feast day, August 8, has been chosen for the opening of the new premises for Institutu Mary MacKillop in Becora, Dili.
The work of the Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies has been conducted in East Timor in rented premises since its beginning in 1994. Over the years staff have enjoyed the hospitality of many Timorese people, particularly the Carmelite Sisters. Places in Dili in which the Institute has worked are Bairo Pite, Surik Más and Motael. Tribute is due to the staff, particularly Sister Tess Ward OLSH, for their enormous effort over many years in keeping the work going in the difficult living and working circumstances in which they found themselves.
In recent years the parish of Becora has hosted the work, rooms in the parish complex being made available by the Parish Priest, Fr Guilhermino da Silva. Staff spent their Christmas holidays one year refurbishing the rooms for use as offices, storage and teaching spaces. The Parish Priest of Motel, Father António Alves, continues to provide the warehouse space which he has freely given over many years for the books used in the teacher training workshops.
In recent times the need for a proper complex from which the educational work of the Institute can grow has been apparent. The Mary MacKillop East Timor Commission established a sub-committee comprised of volunteers to execute a plan for such a development. Chair John Murray called regular meetings in which Paul Gavazzi, Darryl Kite and Madeleine Scarfe offered their considerable expertise, assisted throughout by Cath Leary and Annette Arnold RSJ, and Sydney staff members Josephine Mitchell RSJ, Noreen Nicoara and Susan Connelly RSJ.
The Committee found that the task of negotiating with Church and Government for the use of a parcel of land was enormous, as Timor-Leste is a nation which has so many land ownership difficulties. The Diocese of Dili made land available and has expressed pleasure at the prospect of this development.
Using plans developed from those drawn up by Gerard Macinante, the Committee applied for tenders and a contract was signed with Community Housing Ltd (CHL). Careful oversight of the whole process by the Committee, the expertise and cooperation of CHL and the hard work of the labourers, many from Oe-Cusse and Los Palos, have combined to result in a fine building.
Office building Institutu Mary MacKillop
The Diocese of Darwin made the services of Andy McCracken available to the project, and his expert, thorough and devoted work has made all the difference in this enormously challenging process. Andy travelled to Dili every fortnight to oversee the progress and to work with CHL personnel. The Coordinator of Mission in Timor-Leste, Sister Julian Langton, who has lived on site during construction, has appreciated his excellent service, as has the Committee, other staff of MMETM in Sydney and the Sisters of St Joseph.
Institutu Mary MacKillop is a work of Mary MacKillop International and this new complex is an exciting development for the future and a fitting tribute to the work of so many Timorese supporters over the years.