The national major seminary in Timor-Leste has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Catholic university in Indonesia, aiming to improve the educational quality of seminarians.
The Dili-based institute of philosophy and theology, officially called the Instituto Filosofia e Teologia Dom Jaime Garcia Goulart, and the Widya Mandira Catholic University in Christian-dominated East Nusa Tenggara province signed the document on June 11.
Father Antonio Quenser, vice-chancellor of the Dili seminary, said the agreement was "a new chapter" in the history of his seminary, which was officially established in 2013. The government accredited it in 2019.
The priest, who teaches the Bible, said the collaboration will contribute to improving the educational quality of seminarians in both institutions.
The Widya Mandira (temple of learning) university originally began as a major seminary but in order to fulfill government administration requirements, it was brought rules meant for a state university. However, seminarians continue to do philosophy studies in this seminary, run by Divine Word missioners.
Father Quenser said the collaboration aims not just for academic improvement but also looks "to build brotherly relations because we have a cultural, historical, familial background and live on the mainland on Timor island," he said during the signing ceremony in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara's capital on the western part of Timor Island.
Divine Word Father Philipus Tule, rector of Vidya Mandira, told UCA News that teaching, research and community service are the focal points of this collaboration.
"And most importantly, the two institutions... can develop cooperation in the pastoral field according to their particularities," he was quoted as saying by local media Radarntt.com.
The two institutions are expected to start their teaching cooperation next semester, while research and community service are planned to start next year.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Salesian Bishop Dom Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and late Bishop Basilio do Nascimento of Baucau pioneered the Dili seminar as a major seminary for Timorese seminarians in 2000.
In 2013, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Timor decided to make it an institute open not only to priestly candidates from the three dioceses of Dili, Maliana and Baucau and several religious congregations but also to the public.