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Inspired by immersion, Gold Coast couple fund new Timor school

With the Catholic Leader...

A Catholic Mission immersion trip to Timor-Leste has been credited as the inspiration for a five-year fundraising effort culminating in the opening of a new school in Ossu. 

Burleigh Heads couple Sue and Bren Milsom travelled to Timor-Leste last week to attend the opening of the 450-student St Teresinha College, the construction of which they helped to fund.

Sue and Bren (right) at the opening of the Ossu school they helped to fund after participating in a Catholic Mission Immersion. Photo: Catholic Leader

Following an immersion facilitated by Catholic Mission, Sue and Bren fell in love with the small island and the hilly, central-eastern town of Ossu. 

St Teresinha's College was damaged in fighting associated with Timor-Leste's struggle for independence from Indonesia. Sue and Bren spent over five years raising money around their parish—mostly through a craft stall—in the hope they could resurrect the school. 

'We always knew it could happen – Sue and I are a determined pair – but it was sometimes touch and go as to when it would happen,' Bren said.

Last week, the moment finally arrived, as Sue, Bren and a delegation from Catholic Mission attended the school's reopening. It was a just reward for dedication, patience, and hard work, and Bren paid tribute to the local community.

'The people of Ossu, whose children go to this school, and parishioners of St Teresinha’s have been so patient and flexible,' he said. 'We are delighted that this patience is finally being rewarded and they have somewhere so well-constructed in which the children can continue their education.'

Sue and Bren are now investing their knowledge of Timor-Leste into volunteer work as a Catholic Mission Immersions facilitators. David McGovern, Catholic Mission's Brisbane director, said it is no surprise given the couple's committed support for Catholic Mission and the work of the Church.

'Sue and Bren have an obvious passion for, and deep devotion, to the people of Timor-Leste,' he said. 'They are tireless advocates for this fledgling nation and enjoy sharing about their regular visits and experiences, as Mission Ambassadors, during Catholic Mission appeal weekends.

'We are very fortunate to have them as part of the team in Brisbane and now as immersion program facilitators.'

Catholic Mission organises over thirty immersions per year to missionary countries including Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Fiji, the Philippines and Australian Indigenous communities. To

find out more, please visit

For media enquiries please contact Matthew Poynting on 02 9919 7833 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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