The first class has begun its lessons at the Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiola, Kasait, in East Timor, following the new Jesuit school’s grand opening on 15 January.
Australian Jesuit schools and parishes are major supporters of the Instituto de Educação Jesuíta project, which will eventually consist of the the Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiola high school and a teacher training college, the Colégio de São João de Brito. The Province hopes to make a total contribution of $5 million over the next five years to complete the project and establish a bursary fund.
Through Jesuit Mission, Australian donors provided funds to purchase the land for the institute, as well as funds for the construction of the first buildings, which opened this month just in time for the start of the school year.
Writing from East Timor, Br Noel Oliver SJ says the inaugural Year 7 class are excited about the opportunities the new school will give them.
After years of discussions and discernment, the construction process for the Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiola was set in motion with the ground-breaking ceremony on 14 July 2012.
At every meeting with the architect, constructors and consultants, Australian Jesuit Fr Quyen Vu was there pressing the point: ‘We need the building by 7 January, 2013!’ He pointed out to them the planned opening on 15 January, which was one week after all the other schools had opened their doors.
There were the usual hiccups, but with great hopes we went, early in the morning on 14 January, to take delivery of the first building. The workers had been working in late-night shifts in order to meet our deadlines. We needed to set up the furniture in the classrooms and the furniture in the temporary staff room. To our surprise the workers were still busy with the finishing touches, but finally, at about 5 pm that day, we were able to start moving the students’ desks to the classrooms.
The Jesuits and the teachers living at Cardoner in Kasait arrived early on 15 January. Some of us left early from Dili to be there before 8am, as the Mass was scheduled for 8.30am that morning. Many of the students were there at 7.30am.
Fr João Felgueiras, a Portuguese Jesuit who has been in Timor-Leste since the early 1970s, was there for the celebration. He does not look his age (93) and he is loved by the people for all that he has done for them over the years.
The parents and the students have great hopes in what the students can achieve because of the Jesuit education that they will receive here in Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiola.
S. Maria Filomena de Jesus is one of the teachers. She told us, ‘This school can become one that will show children the way. This is what parents want. It is with the collaboration of the parents, teachers and the Jesuits that this school is going to become well known in the whole of Timor-Leste. My great hope is that this school will become a second Ateneo’ (Referring to Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines).
We can never say it loud enough, but what has been achieved till now and what is to be achieved in the years to come is only possible because of the generous support that we have received from so many of our supporters from all over the world.
On behalf of the Jesuits and staff of Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiola I want to say: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
Donations to this major initiative of the Australian Jesuit Province can be made via Jesuit Mission, at www.jesuitmission.org.au.
For more on the East Timor education project, go to www.jceao.net/jesuit-education-timor-leste.