Metinaro, Timor-Leste (May 5, 2024) – President José Ramos-Horta officially opened a new religious house for the Missionary Daughters of Divine Mercy (FMDM-Portuguese Acronym) in Metinaro on Sunday. The inauguration marks an important milestone for the young Catholic community that was founded in 2013.

The FMDM’s mission is to care for the elderly, mothers, and child victims of violence who have been abandoned. Sister Josefina Bakhita, the founder, expressed deep gratitude to President Ramos-Horta for his vital support in making the new house a reality.

We thank the Most Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary, through President Ramos-Horta, who is like a father and mother to the nation,” said Sister Bakhita. “He listens and feels for the poor people that the nation and church alone cannot support. The President collaborated with us to fill this gap.”

Long Road to a Permanent Home
For its first nine years, the FMDM resided in rented homes in Dili while relying on donors, the community, and church leaders. In 2022, they acquired land in Metinaro donated by a local landowner to establish their permanent mission and pastoral base.

Construction on the $32,500 project began mid-2023 and wrapped up in February 2024, funded by the government through the Civil Society Service and Social Affairs at President Ramos-Horta’s request.

Seeking Vatican Recognition
Though just over a decade old with only three official members, the FMDM is going through the process to gain recognition from the Holy See as a Catholic religious institute. Their new Metinaro home marks an important step in that journey.

“With God’s guidance, we will continue serving our neighbors through our charism,” Sister Bakhita said of the community’s mission moving forward from their new local headquarters.

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