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Members of Melbourne’s East Timorese Catholic community gather for Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral (Melbourne Catholic)

St Patrick’s Cathedral resounded with the voices of Melbourne’s East Timorese Catholic community raised in song, as the community celebrated the Mass in their native language, Tetum, at the Cathedral for the first time. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

The Mass on December 3 was celebrated by Fr Nelson Fátima Gonçalves Salvador Soares, the community’s chaplain, and it was an opportunity for their choir to worship using the Tetum hymns they had been practising for several months.

More than 200 people attended the Mass and according to community member Deolinda Dacunha, it was “one of the biggest events that’s happened” in their community in a while.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are more than 5000 people living in Victoria who are from Timor-Leste. Ms Dacunha said that after the Indonesian invasion of their country in 1975, a small but tightly-knit community formed in Melbourne and Sydney.

When Timor-Leste achieved independence in 1999, things changed and many returned to their home country. 

Ms Dacunha was one of those who went home, remaining in Timor-Leste for 15 years before coming back to Melbourne to be with other family members who had decided to remain here.

She said the community hopes to start having a more involved and active presence in the life of the Church in Melbourne.

“We’ve started to unite everyone again through our faith. It’s not easy. It’s hard. But we’re doing it through our actions. I believe we can do it.”


East Timorese Catholic community ‘back together’ again (Melbourne Catholic)