Paulie Stewart was 48 years old and had been on the waiting list for a liver transplant for more than 500 days when, at death’s door, he was visited in Melbourne’s Austin hospital by Sister Helena, a young nun from Timor-Leste sent to comfort him on his journey to the other side. A priest had already read him his last rites.
Stewart, singer of Melbourne punk band Painters and Dockers and Australian-East Timorese reggae ensemble the Dili Allstars, thought Helena’s appearance must have been an omen. His association with Timor-Leste spanned decades, sparked by the murder of his brother Tony in 1975 by Indonesian forces in Balibo.
Sister Helena, familiar with both the Allstars and the story of the Balibo Five, was just as gobsmacked to see Stewart on his deathbed. She vowed she would get him a new liver. In his new memoir All The Rage, Stewart writes that he thought Helena must have got into the altar wine a bit early that day.
The next morning, a nurse rushed into the ward. A compatible liver had arrived. Sister Helena and the nuns of East Timor had been praying all night.
A former altar boy, Stewart lost his faith in 1975 when a nun told his shattered family they should be happy that his brother was with Jesus.… Read more..