Jesuit Social Service – Timor-Leste

JSS Water and SanitationJesuit Social Service Timor-Leste (JSS) was formed in mid-2013 to facilitate a more active role for the Jesuits in Timor-Leste’s social development, after the withdrawal of Jesuit Refugee Service from the country.  While services were no longer required for displaced persons, there was clearly a need for social services to help the young nation build itself.  Some of the JRS staff, including former JRS country director Isidoro Costa, moved over to JSS and two Jesuit scholastics were assigned to JSS to help initiate projects. Brother Noel Oliver SJ took over as Acting Director in January 2014 and in June that day, the first director, Fr Erik John Gerilla SJ was appointed.

The vision of Jesuit Social Service Timor Leste is the vision of the Jesuit mission in the country – a Church and nation that are grounded in the faith and justice of the Gospel.  JSS envisions united, self-reliant, and self-sustaining communities that will build a strong Timorese nation, animated by love for the country, and empowered to form a just society and promote the common good. Its mission is to serve the faith and promote justice for integral development of the people of Timor-Leste.

Hence, Jesuit Social Service is committed to:

  1. Promoting integral community development where the cultures and identities of the people are respected and promoted, empowering the poor to become self-sustaining.
  2. Fostering humanization of life where all people especially women, youth, and children are included, their basic needs are met and they are able to live their lives to the full through agricultural and livelihood projects, training and mentoring for entrepreneurial and related functional skills, and public health development.
  3. Creating avenues to strengthen human resilience in communities through volunteerism, network building, and partnership with the government and the private sector – local and international.


JSS is engaged in several projects in in three geographical areas where the Jesuits have a long-term presence – Dare, Hera and Kasait.  These cover the following broad areas:

  1. Water and Sanitation. Alleviate poor access to water and sanitation through community-based infrastructure projects.DSC_0053
  2. Agricultural Development. Help secure an adequate food supply that is affordable for all through innovative agricultural development programs suitable to each community in the rural areas.
  3. Social Innovation. Train and mentor youth groups and women to become social innovators.  By using business solutions to social issues, we aim to empower the youth and the women to become agents of change through a variety of innovative projects that will not just improve the living condition of the communities where they belong but also to impart values formation and foster communal action.
  4. Public Health Development. Develop public health interventions in the rural areas where there is poor access to health care.


See the October 2015 letter from the Jesuits in Timor-Leste for more on Jesuit Social Service’s projects.