Seminary of Our Lady of Fatima

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The Minor Seminary of Our Lady of Fatima, the oldest Roman Catholic Seminary in East Timor was founded in 1936. The seminary was initially established in Manatutu district, south of Dili. In 1951 it was moved to Dare. In 1954 the Vatican canonically registered the seminary. It was taken over by the Jesuits in 1958.[1]

The seminary, which sits on the top ridge of the mountains surrounding Dili, was for generations East Timor's most important educational institute where almost every East Timorese leader was educated.[2]

In 1983 the St. Joseph’s High School became a separate institution from the Minor Seminary. Among the students of the High School are approximately 50 seminarians.

The seminary was the only place where East Timorese could be educated beyond secondary school level and its alumni include a roll call of leaders including Nicolau dos Reis Lobato and Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo.[3] Xanana Gusmão spent four years at the seminary.[4] Most of the Fretilin guerillas were educated at the Seminary including Jose Ramos Horta.[5]

Until independence the medium of instruction was Bahasa.[3]

In July 2000 the seminary was the venue for the marriage of East Timor President Xanana Gusmão and Kirsty Sword.[6]

In 2001 the seminary had about 30 Timorese candidates for the diocesan priesthood.[7]

On 1 March 2007 the country's new Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, celebrated Mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Dili before visiting the Seminary.[8]

Father Lopes Mouzinho is the Rector of the Seminary in 2007. The grounds of the Seminary are still a sanctuary for thousands of refugees. It has become one of Dili's many Internally Displaced Persons Camps.[9]


The alumni of the seminary, including President Xanana Gusmão, Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili and Bishop Basilio do Nascimento of Baucau, and others met at the Seminary on October 30, 2004 to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Jesuit Father Leonardus Dibyawiyata who was the rector of the seminary from 1996 to 1999 also spoke on the occasion. The seminary has produced about 40 priests, including three Bishops. Hundreds of politicians and professionals also are graduates of the seminary.[1]

In 2010 the Church in East Timor is also celebrating the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Seminary, where 75 seminarians are preparing for the priesthood.[10]


  1. ^ a b UCANews November 9, 2004
  2. ^ Asiaweek 1999
  3. ^ a b Christalis, Irena. East Timor: A nation’s bitter dawn. Zed Books, London, 2009
  4. ^ BBC News 9 May 2007
  5. ^ Radio National 26/05/99
  6. ^ Gusmão, K. S. A woman of independence. Pan 2003.
  7. ^ AD2000 December 2001
  8. ^ CathNews 2 March 2007
  9. ^ ABC 22 October, 2007
  10. ^ Agenzia Fides 2/7/2008