Vote of Condolences for the Death of Father José Alves Martins

Presidency of the Council of Ministers

Eighth Constitutional Government


March 15, 2022

Press Release

Vote of Condolences for the Death of Father José Alves Martins

With great consternation and sorrow, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste received the news of the passing away of Father José Alves Martins, Jesuit missionary, on March 14th, 2022, at the Vila Franca de Xira Hospital, in Portugal.

The missionary of the Society of Jesus was eighty years old, most of which was spent in Timor-Leste, where he arrived at the age of 33 and from where he never left, even during the Indonesian occupation, having always given support to the population and the resistance.

Father José Alves Martins was born on July 17th, 1941, in São Romão de Neiva, Viana do Castelo, Portugal.

On September 7th, 1958 he joined the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of Soutelo, Braga. In 1969, he completed the first year of Theology, at the Catholic University in Lisbon. From 1970 to 1974, he studied and obtained a degree in Spiritual Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome. On July 9th, 1972 he was ordained a priest in Apúlia, Esposende, Braga.

He arrived in Timor-Leste on September 23rd, 1974, where he began as a teacher and spiritual director in the Diocesan Seminary, in Dili. On December 7th, 1975, he managed to escape with minor injuries from the bombing of the Seminary by the Indonesian military.

He reopened the Seminary on the outskirts of Dili in 1978, where he served as Rector of the Seminary from 1985 to 1991. He held various diocesan positions and directed the Dare Retreat House (Casa de Exercícios de Dare).

In 2000, he was appointed the Superior of the Loyola Residence in Taibessi and was Advisor to the Bishop of Dili. He was also the coordinator of the Clergy’s ongoing formation and President of the Holy House of Mercy (Santa Casa da Misericórdia).

On June 9th, 2004, he was awarded the Commendatory Degree of the Order of Merit of Portugal, by President Jorge Sampaio. In May 2012, he was awarded the medal of the Order Dom Martinho Lopes, for his support to the Timorese resistance and relevant contribution to the fight for independence, and on May 11th, 2016, he was awarded the National Medal of Merit. On March 27th, 2019, he was awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifica medal by Pope Francis, in recognition of his apostolic action in Timor.

In this moment of great sorrow for the religious and all the Timorese People in general, the Spokesperson of the Government, the Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, on behalf of the Council of Ministers and the entire Government, presents his most heartfelt condolences to the family of the esteemed Father José Martins, to the Church and the Jesuit family of Timor-Leste. END