This is the address given on 31 July by Sister Terezinha of the Canossian Sisters of East Timor at the time of their visit to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Thurgoona (Albury), Diocese of Wagga Wagga, NSW, following World Youth Day. Fr John Fowles, Thurgoona's parish priest and a pilot, had raised money for East Timor through his Fly Away to Heaven project.
On behalf of the group of East Timorese visitors I would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Lord, the Almighty, for His love and compassion in every moment of our lives.
This moment, we would like to thank Him through all of you for your thoughtfulness and solidarity that have driven you, for a cause you are not a part of, and for the people of a nation you might have never met or heard of prior to your involvement in the Fly Away to Heaven.
In many ways and means - even the risky ones - you have been pulling together your efforts to raise funds to assist the basic needs of our suffering brothers and sisters. The ten of us are your first beneficiaries; we are most thankful for the opportunity to join WYD08 in Sydney. It was an unforgettable experience and we believe that we have been enriched in so many ways.
Our last 10 days here in Albury were grace-filled, and we will forever be thankful to one big-hearted man in the person of Fr Fowles. He has become the voice of the voiceless. Perhaps he is an Australian prophet for the cause of the poorest East Timorese.
We honour the Confraternity of Christ the Priest for their one hundred percent support for this project - thank you Fr Wallace and Br Denis for all that the Confraternity has done for us.
In the Gospel we know that in His Messianic Mission, Jesus was helped by some pious women. Here in Thurgoona these pious women are well represented. We wish to thank each one and we appreciate their hard work, patience and generosity for the good outcome of this project.
Our list of thanks is never ending. We do not want to miss anybody, therefore, we would like to summarise by thanking all our benefactors, wherever they may be, the school children and their teachers, the pilots, journalists and photographers, the musicians and each one of you who have contributed in one way or another, to value a difference in the life of another.
All of you will be represented by our foster families:
* thank you for keeping us warm and making us feel at home;
* thank you for sharing your lives and wealth with us;
* thank you for understanding our limitations and differences;
* thank you for putting up with our broken English;
* thank you for the snow experience;
* thank you for teaching us about life and enriching us with your way of life.
Finally, we know that as human beings we are not perfect. Therefore, before leaving this place we would like to apologise for any wrong-doings, hurt feelings and bad examples that we have set before you. Rest assured that each one of us has fond memories of you and when we remember and share these memories, we will pray for you, that you may continue to grow in faith, hope and charity/love and become true witnesses of God here in Albury, Australia, in the Pacific, in the whole world.