As is usual with any kind of solidarity activities, I have been receiving so much grace all through my solidarity with East Timor. One of such graces was my encounter with several Jesuits, which I am going to share with you.
Fr. Filomeno Jacob
I visited East Timor last April for the first time in 9 years. It was sad to see so many signs of violence waged last year, but at the same time I was able to breathe the profound joy among the people who finally achieved freedom. One day I heard a familiar voice coming from a car radio. It was the voice of Fr. Filomeno Jacob who is in charge of education both in the Church and the National Council of Timorese Resistance. I couldn't understand the meaning because he was talking in Tetum, their local language, but it was a clear sign that he is one of the key persons for the reconstruction of East Timor.

It was in 1988 when I first met Fr. Jacob. East Timor was not yet open to the outside world then, and there was hardly any foreigner who could enter the territory except some major superiors of the religious congregations who had communities there. However I somehow succeeded. As soon as I arrived in Dili Airport, I went straight to the Jesuit Seminary in Lahane because it was well-known among the international solidarity groups that there were several Jesuit fathers standing firm on the side of the people in their struggle for liberation. Fr. Jacob looked surprised at finding a sister coming to see him all the way from Japan, but the moment he knew that I came to investigate the human rights situation in East Timor, he took me to see several places in the territory.

In Viqueque I attended a celebration for newly ordained Fr. Jacob. A group of girls sang that they were longing for the father's fighting for freedom together with them. There was unending applause.

It was just after that when the master of ceremonies started talking in the Indonesian language for fear of the presence of the military. Fr. Jacob got furious about it and ordered the man to talk in Tetum instead. I was deeply moved by the deep love of his native land shown by that young priest who was working for justice at the cost of his life. This encounter of mine with Fr. Jacob determined my future solidarity activity with his beautiful homeland.


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Fr. Joao Felgueiras
Fr. Felgueiras is one of the few foreign priests and nuns in the East Timorese church who supported the people throughout the long occupation by the Indonesians. I confirmed the important role this father had played during those years when I visited East Timor last April.
One night I paid a visit to Mr. Francisco Miranda Branco, a former political prisoner who had been imprisoned for 9 years on account of his involvement in the clandestine movement. In the midst of the fear of death, he as well as his fellow prisoners got tremendous strength whenever Fr. Felgueiras paid a visit to them in their prison. The father taught them: the cross is the symbol of suffering for freedom; St. Paul wrote so many letters while in prison; the Rosary can be prayed anytime and anywhere, which gives them the deep consolation of Our Lady. Mr. Branco said that they owe their present lives very much to Fr. Felgueiras. I was able to understand such remark when I witnessed the spiritual depth in this father which is the clear result of his exquisite spiritual accompaniment to those "christs" in their tremendous sufferings.
Fr. John Baptist Hisashi Hayashi
I will never forget my Spiritual Exercises directed by Fr. Hayashi more than ten years ago. By that time I had come to be unable to spend a single day without thinking of the suffering of the East Timorese. One day when I was talking with my director, this thought of mine burst out, and I said to him, "In East Timor there are some Jesuits who are participating in the suffering of Christ in a very particular way." As far as I know this was the first time for Fr. Hayashi to get to know about his fellow Jesuits in East Timor. Since then he has been sharing with me his constant communication with his brothers in East Timor through prayers and direct visits.

Those are the precious occasions for me to really experience the Jesuit brotherly love that seems to me the source of all the endeavors of their involvement in the service to faith and the promotion of justice.

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