With less than two weeks until Mary MacKillop becomes Australia’s first Catholic saint, preparations are underway in East Timor to mark the occasion, SBS correspondent Auskar Surbakti reports.


The MacKillop mission has been working in the country for over a decade now and a lucky group of young people has been chosen to attend the ceremony in Rome.

Antonio de Padua is one of six young people from the Mackillop mission in Dili who’ve been chosen.

“There is no words to describe he told SBS. “I still cannot believe this has happened to me. All my prayers have been answered”.

Paulinos Santos has managed to lay the foundations of a burgeoning business, crafting wooden crosses that have sparked interest in Australia.

He says Mary MacKillop’s legacy has helped build him a future and he is honoured to be going to the canonisation.

Paulinos will be joining Maria dos Santos, who helps run the Mackillop operation in Dili.

“I’m so excited to go there. It’s my dream. I really dream to go to Rome and just with prayers the dream has come true,” she told SBS.

As well as the school support program, they have a compassionate care program that sees them deliver food and other basic supplies to hundreds poor families across the country.

That job is being made more difficult with a rise in food prices and they are calling for donors to come forward to help support the mission.

The Josephite sister in charge of the mission will travel with her East Timorese team to Rome.

She says the experience will ultimately help re-build her country.

“It will help empowering our team, because that’s what we’re about. (It will help) handing over and sharing the skills that I’ve been fortunate enough to have. So that we are able to hand them on to the future generation,” sister Julian Langton told SBS.