Sisters of Mount Carmel Found a New Mission in Timor-Leste
By Sister Lawrence Habetz, O. Carm.
At our 34th General Chapter in January, 2009 the delegates voted to explore the possibility of expansion in Asia. In October, Sisters Mailyn Batocabe and Carlita Panaligan, from the Philippines Region, visited Dili and Zumalai to ascertain the possibility of establishing a new mission. With the support of the Australian Carmelite Friars, the warm welcome of the people, it seemed like a real possibility.
In May, 2012 Sister Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, then President of the Congregation with Sisters Mailyn Batocabe and Gina Yabo, then Philippine Regional Coordinator visited Dili and Zumalai and met with Don Norberto Amaral, Bishop of the Diocese of Maliana, Timor-Leste. The bishop was most anxious to welcome us to Timor-Leste.
At a congregation assembly Sister Elizabeth Fitzpatrick made a PowerPoint presentation to the sisters of their trips to Timor-Leste.
At our 35th General Chapter in January, 2013 the delegates voted to establish a new mission in Timor-Leste.
At the Philippine Regional Assembly in April, 2013, sisters in the region voted to send two sisters to Timor-Leste in thanksgiving for their 50 years in the Philippines. The sisters in the USA would provide prayerful and financial support. They drafted a mission and vision statement as well as objectives of the new mission:
Mission Statement–In line with the Mission and Vision Statement of the Congregation, we, the Sisters of Mount Carmel in Timor-Leste follow Jesus Christ in the Spirit of the prophet Elijah and Mary by our way of contemplation, community and prophetic service lived in the midst of the people.
Vision Statement— In a nation wounded by injustice and armed conflicts, God calls us to respond through our Carmelite Charism, in restoring the dignity and uplifting the human spirit of the people of Timor-Leste.
Objectives--Evangelization means reconciliation and healing through Christian formation, pastoral care, health care, livelihood and economic development.
July 16, 2013 the Philippine Region held a departure ceremony for Sisters Mailyn Batocabe and Remedios Natonton. Sisters in the USA prayed the departure prayers in powerful support. The ceremony was adapted from the Departure Ceremony of Mother Marcella Foret and Sister Carmelita Danos’ departure to the Philippines in 1962, found in our archives. Sister Gloria Ibalio, Philippine Regional Coordinator assisted the sisters in their preparation for their new mission.
Sisters Mailyn and Remy arrived in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, July 18, 2013. They stayed with the Hermanas Carmelitas in Dili and attended the DIT Language School to learn the Tetum language.
August 30, 2013 the sisters moved to Zumalai, Timor-Leste to await the completion of the new convent in Belaco, Timor-Leste, a village in Zumalai. The convent was a support gift of the Australian Carmelite Friars and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Zumalai. Nearby villagers also contributed money as well as construction skills, donating their time and services to help make our new missionary endeavor become a reality.
We are most grateful to all who helped us. A special thank you to Father Bruce Clark, O. Carm. for his “on hands” support, time, and advice throughout the establishing of the mission. On her deathbed Mother St. Paul Bazire, our foundress in France said to Sister Thérèse Chevrel, who was to become our foundress in the USA, “Carmel will live in another country. God will use you, you will cross the sea and it (Carmel) will not perish.” These prophetic words are true once again and they give us the courage and hope for the future of Carmel as we continue to spread Carmelite Spirituality throughout the world.
The Sisters of Mount Carmel are proud of the collaborative progress made in Timor-Leste, but there is still much to be done in this nation wounded by injustice and armed conflict. The new convent in Belaco has been constructed but the Sisters need basic supplies to furnish their home. In order to continue our vital work in Timor-Leste, we must rely on the generosity of others. We have developed a list of necessary supplies and we call upon you to help any way that you can. No donation is too small. We are most grateful for your support.