Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz

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Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz is an East Timorese Roman Catholic nun.

She was born in Asu Manu, East Timor in 1962. After an education interrupted by the independence struggle, she joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity as a novice. In 1985 she went to Indonesia to study Theology at the Jesuit Institute in Yogjakarta. In 1989 she returned home to start her own religious order the Brothers and Sisters in Christ. She built a training institute for girls and women in Dare. She has dedicated her life to "changing the plight of the poor by working on the roots of the problems". She became known by the name Mana Lou.[1]

In 1997 she was awarded the Pax Christi International peace prize for her work on the education, development and dignity of people in poor communities in East Timor.[2]

Her order runs three orphanages, at Dare, Aileu and Viqueque. Sr Lourdes tries to educate the orphans to become independent and eventually self-sufficient. Besides attending the local school in the native language Tetum, the children are taught catechism, as well as agriculture, cooking and such crafts as sewing and embroidering.[3]

After independence she teamed up with a visiting American doctor, Dan Murphy and together they set up a medical clinic for the poor. The clinic is now averaging about 300 patients a day and is one of the busiest clinics in East Timor. It has a pharmacy, laboratory, TB and maternity wards.[4]

In December 2009 she was awarded the Sergio Vieira De Mello Human Rights Award for promoting social, economic and cultural rights by President Jose Ramos-Horta.[5]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Christalis, Irena. East Timor: A nation’s bitter dawn. Zed Books, London, 2009
  2. ^ Pax Christi International
  3. ^ East Timor Project
  4. ^ ABC Compass 29 May 2005
  5. ^ 10 December 2009