News

Catholic Mission Welcomes Appointment of New Bishop of Dili

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
5 Feb 2016

Bishop-Elect Virgilio do Carmo da Silva is the provincial superior of the Salesian Indonesia Timor-Leste province

Catholic Mission, the international mission agency of the Catholic Church in Australia, has welcomed Monday's announcement of the appointment of Salesian Father Virgilio do Carmo da Silva as Bishop of Dili.

Catholic Mission maintains close ties with Timor-Leste, and the nation features in Catholic Mission's current Seminarian Appeal, sent to 50,000 donors this week.

Father Brian Lucas, National Director of Catholic Mission, says the appointment will stabilise the growing church in Timor-Leste. "We are pleased to see the process of appointing a new bishop for the Diocese of Dili has concluded with such a positive outcome," he said. "These careful selection processes are necessary, but can often be testing for the faith community as they wait in expectation.

"The appointment of Bishop do Carmo da Silva will energise the Church and solidify the growing faith of the people."

Bishop do Carmo da Silva, 48, was ordained a priest in December 1998. He has since served in a number of administrative roles in the Church, including as Director of the House of the Salesians and Don Bosco Technical High School in Fatumaca, and most recently as Provincial of the Salesians in Timor-Leste. 

His Ordination Mass will occur on 19 March, the Feast of Saint Joseph.

Zaccarias Exposito is one of the seminarians being helped by Catholic Mission's current appeal

His appointment as Bishop of Dili follows an eight-month vacancy since the passing of Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva in May 2015. The Bishop Basilio do Nascimiento of Baucau has overseen the Diocese of Dili as administrator, when Bishop da Silva stepped down due to his ill health.

Bishop da Silva's predecessor, Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, was a co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste.

In a Mass following the announcement, Bishop-Elect da Silva told those gathered that being a bishop is not an easy task, and asked the Catholics of Timor-Leste to pray for him.

Catholic Mission has held strong ties with Timor-Leste for decades, and in recent times has specifically supported seminarians training at the St Peter and St Paul Major Seminary in Dili.

The seminary is the focus of the organisation's 2016 Seminarian Appeal, which raises funds for the training of future priests and sisters in Timor-Leste and around the world.

"We have stood side-by-side with the Timorese for many years, including during their struggle for independence," says Fr Lucas. "Today, we stand with them in celebration of the appointment of Bishop do Carmo da Silva and we pray for a smooth transition to the role.

"Given Bishop do Carmo da Silva's experience in education and mentorship, I have great faith he will prove a strong leader for the Church, especially with the encouraging numbers of vocations to religious life.

"Catholic Mission's 2016 Seminarian Appeal tells the story of the young men in Dili training to be priests, and I am confident they will flourish under the stewardship of Bishop do Carmo da Silva."

To learn more about Catholic Mission's 2016 Seminarian Appeal or to support seminarians and novices in Timor-Leste and around the world, please visit catholicmission.org.au/timor-leste.