The Catholic Leader, May 7, 2017www.catholicleader.com.au
Church helps build bridges of hope with Timor Leste visitors
Mass at St
Strengthening Timor ties
(Above) President-elect Fran-
cisco Guterres with Queensland Governor
Paul de Jersey.
Deacon Gary Stone (right)
and his son Michael Stone marched along-
side Timore Leste veterans.
By Mark Bowling
CLOSE ties between Church and
people are a legacy of last month’s
Anzac Day visit to Brisbane by
Timor Leste’s new leader accompa-
nied by war veterans.
It was the first visit to Australia by President-
elect Francisco Guterres, a 24-year veteran of
East Timor’s resistance to Indonesian occupa-
Mr Guterres is keen to forge neighbourly ties,
and is particularly concerned with improving the
welfare of veterans in the fledgling Timor Leste.
In Brisbane, the Catholic Church is playing a
prominent part in both creating goodwill and as-
sisting veterans re-integrate into civilian life.
Timor Leste veterans marched alongside
Australian comrades in the Anzac street parade
in Brisbane, and President-elect Guterres at-
tended the Anzac Day Mass at St Stephen’s
Cathedral, seated together with Queensland
Governor Paul de Jersey, Premier Annasta-
cia Palaszczuk and Police Commissioner Ian
As a sign of close ties the new leader
presented Archbishop Mark Coleridge with a
traditionally-woven Timorese scarf and the two
men embraced on the steps of the cathedral.
“It was a warm welcoming moment,” Deacon
Gary Stone, who has been instrumental in forg-
ing relations with Timor Leste through his Veter-
ans Care Association, said.
“And during the Anzac parade we marched
as one contingent (Timorese and Australian
“After they had marched, the Timorese veter-
ans were given a place of honour on the saluting
In Brisbane, Deacon Stone accompanied
President-elect Guterres to visit Mates4Mates to
see firsthand a veterans care facility.
Mates4Mates helps military service personnel
transition into civilian life – a task that can be
tough for veterans and their families and might
require the support of a mate.
Deacon Stone said the Timorese veterans
returned home with ideas and inspiration to
develop their own celebrations to mark military
service and ways to care for veterans and their
“They can take back a vision of how the RSL
and a whole range of veterans’ groups have built
up niche capabilities to support the veteran com-
munity,” he said.
Mr Guterres will be sworn in as the country’s
fourth president later this month.
Fifteen years after independence, Timor
Leste’s key oil reserves are running dry and the
government is struggling to resolve a long-
running row with Australia over lucrative energy
fields in the Timor Sea.