Saturday, April 23, 2011


 Holy Saturday is a time of waiting.  We know how how the story ended then....Resurrection.  The disciples did not know.  No doubt they were afraid, frightened and lost.

It is much the same for those working for development, working to build more human conditions out of less ones.  They do not know how the story will end all the time.  Death is a common experience in their work whether by disease, violence or hunger and thirst.  Will everything be lost, or will we see the resurrection?

When Development and Peace first started to work with the Catholic Church in Timor Leste,  we did not know whether we would ever see the end of the Indonesian occupation.  We did not know if the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), founded by Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo with our support, would ever get to stop documenting abuse after abuse committed against the Timorese people by the occupying army.

There was only the work to be done and to wait...and yet the end did come. Bishop Belo, who was awarded a nobel peace prize for his efforts, spoke of Timor Leste's journey towards independence saying, "We, the predominantly Christian people of East Timor, like to think of the road we have taken to freedom as the road that Jesus Christ took toward Easter - toward resurrection."

But of course, development does not end but in fact, really begins with independence.  Sr. Clare Garcillano has been in the country for close to five years now and is the director of the JPC.  She is a short Filipina nun, but her heart is head and shoulders above most of us.  "Donors want to see results so quickly," she tells me.   "These things take time though. And if the funding stops, then what? we have to start all over again. That is why we are grateful to Development and Peace for your long-term support." 

After speaking at St. Dominic Parish in Bracebridge, a student asked Sr. Clare, "Why did you want to become a nun?"

"To serve the poor," she answered.  That vocation has led her to Timor Leste.   Living that commitment means having to place ourselves in the dark sometimes.  In the dark we find ourselves waiting and hoping, but like the disciples not knowing, that the light is going to break through.

Sr. Clare speaking at Holy Family parish in Kingston

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