Timorese youths challenged to seek knowledge and faith

Vatican representative calls on students at University Cross ceremony to strive to become Timor-Leste's future leaders
Timorese youths challenged to seek knowledge and faith

Students from the Institute Superior Cristal carry the University Cross to an altar at the foot of the 27-meter-high Christ the King statue on April 14 for a special ceremony to pass it to students from the University of Dili. (Photo by Thomas Ora/ucanews.com)


The Vatican’s representative in Timor-Leste, Monsignor Marco Sprizzi has challenged young people, particularly university students to be future leaders and seek not only knowledge but also spiritual intelligence, to be a true witness of Christ love.

Monsignor Sprizzi laid down the challenge when he, along with Bishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili, attended a special youth event on April 14, after Palm Sunday Mass, near Dili’s iconic 27-meter-high Christ the King statue.

He said youths have a very important place in the future of Timor-Leste and the Catholic Church, so they have to prepare themselves to assume a leadership role in the future.

“However, it is not enough to grow just academically. It’s important also to balance this with spiritual growth, and a belief in Christ,” he said.

“You must deepen your spirituality so that science and faith can go hand in hand in your life,” he told the gathering.

The event was annual passing of the University Cross ceremony. This year the cross was passed from the Institute Superior Cristal — run by lay Catholics — to the University of Dili.

The University Cross was an initiative of Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili who died in April 2015, to embrace students into Christ’s love. The cross is placed for adoration at a chosen university each year.

Dili has nine universities, each of which has thousands of students coming from 13 districts across Timor-Leste.

The present bishop, Virgilio do Carmo Da Silva, told the students that Pope Francis was paying special attention to them through his latest apostolic exhortation “Christus Vivit” (Christ is Alive), which invites young people to be Christ-minded.

“Don’t run away from challenges. Instead, stay closer to Christ,” the prelate said.

He said the University Cross that comes to their university symbolizes Jesus who always wants to be at one with them.

“The Church expects you to be Christ’s witnesses on your own campus. Hence, you should not involve yourselves in drugs, vengeance or hostility,” the bishop said.

Belarmino de Sena, 23, an English literature student at the Oriental University of Timor-Leste, said staying closer to Jesus through devotion to the University Cross, has improved his self-esteem.

“My parents are farmers whose main income is from selling corn, green beans and tobacco. They don’t have a fixed income, and it affects my studies,” he told ucanews.com.

“But prayer has helped me stay focussed on my studies, despite the challenges,” he said.

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Agostinho dos Santos Gonçalves, president of the Institute Superior Cristal, said since its founding 35 years ago, the institute has educated more than 45,000 young people not only to excel academically but also spiritually.

“We set Christ as the foundation of a student’s life,” he said.

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