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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana
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The Maltese Missionary Experience by Fr.John Caruana

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  • 1. 3 INTRODUCTION The Response of the Church of Malta and Gozo to the Gospel´s Appeal..........................................................................................................................12 Pope Francis.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................14 Archbishop Paul Cremona.................................................................................................................................................................................................15 Bishop Mario Grech...........................................................................................................................................................................................................16 Professor Oliver Friggieri...................................................................................................................................................................................................17 A Hearty Thank You!..........................................................................................................................................................................................................19 AFRICA Chapter 1 ALGERIA................................................................................................................................................................................................22 1.1 Augustinian Friars (OSA).............................................................................................................................................................................................22 1.2 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)..................................................................................................................................................................23 Chapter 2 EGYPT......................................................................................................................................................................................................25 2.1 Introduction..................................................................................................................................................................................................................25 Early Maltese Presence in Egypt........................................................................................................................................................................................25 2.2 The Jesuits (SJ).............................................................................................................................................................................................................25 2.3 Franciscan Missionary Sisters of The Immaculate Heart of Mary (FMIHM) Missionaries of Egypt...................................................................27 2.4 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)...................................................................................................................................................................28 2.5 Missionaries of Charity (MC).....................................................................................................................................................................................28 2.6 Sisters of Charity (SOC..............................................................................................................................................................................................29 Chapter 3 LIBYA.............................................................................................................................................................................................................30 3.1 Church Origins and Mission in Libya..........................................................................................................................................................................30 3.2 Diocesan Priests...........................................................................................................................................................................................................32 3.3 The Franciscan Friars Minor (OFM)..........................................................................................................................................................................33 3.4 Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (DSH)...........................................................................................................................................................34 3.5 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)..................................................................................................................................................................34 3.6 Sisters of Charity (SOC).............................................................................................................................................................................................37 Chapter 4 MAROCCO....................................................................................................................................................................................................37 4.1 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM.....................................................................................................................................................................37 Chapter 5 TUNISIA.........................................................................................................................................................................................................38 5.1 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)....................................................................................................................................................................38 Chapter 6 ETHIOPIA......................................................................................................................................................................................................40 6.1 Missionary Society of St Paul......................................................................................................................................................................................40 6.2 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)....................................................................................................................................................................41 6.3 The Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus (FCJ)......................................................................................................................................................42 6.4 Sisters of St Joseph of The Apparition (SJA).............................................................................................................................................................46 SUMMARY
  • 2. 4 6.5 Testimony of Bishop Markos Gebremedhin C.M.....................................................................................................................................................47 6.6 Lay Missionaries .........................................................................................................................................................................................................48 Chapter 7 KENYA............................................................................................................................................................................................................49 7.1The Franciscan Capuchins (OFM)...............................................................................................................................................................................49 7.2The Jesuits (SJ).............................................................................................................................................................................................................53 7.3 The Daughters of The Sacred Heart of Jesus (DSH)...................................................................................................................................................55 7.4 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)............................................................................................................................................................57 7.5 The Franciscan Sisters of The Heart of Jesus(FCJ).....................................................................................................................................................57 7.6 Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (White Sisters) (MSOLA).......................................................................................................................58 7.7 Lay Missionaries Members of the Society of Christian Doctrine (SDC)....................................................................................................................60 Chapter 8 MALAWI........................................................................................................................................................................................................62 8.1 Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA)..................................................................................................................................................62 Chapter 9 SUDAN............................................................................................................................................................................................................63 9.1 The Jesuits (SJ)............................................................................................................................................................................................................63 9.2 Daughters of St Paul.....................................................................................................................................................................................................63 9.3 Sisters of Charity (SOC)..............................................................................................................................................................................................64 9.4 Lay Missionaries..........................................................................................................................................................................................................64 Chapter 10 TANZANIA...................................................................................................................................................................................................67 10.1 The Franciscan Friars (OFM Cap.)............................................................................................................................................................................67 10.2 The Jesuits (SJ).........................................................................................................................................................................................................67 10.3 Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM)....................................................................................................................................................................68 10.4 The Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers )and The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (White Sisters) (MSOLA.................................69 10.5 Malta and Cardinal Lavigeri.....................................................................................................................................................................................71 Chapter 11 BENIN...........................................................................................................................................................................................................73 11.1 Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM).....................................................................................................................................................................73 Chapter 12 GHANA.........................................................................................................................................................................................................75 12.1 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)...........................................................................................................................................................75 12.2 Missionary Sisters of Our Lady.................................................................................................................................................................................76 Chapter 13 LIBERIA.......................................................................................................................................................................................................76 13.1 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM).................................................................................................................................................................76 Chapter 14 NIGERIA......................................................................................................................................................................................................80 14.1 The Salesians (SDB)..................................................................................................................................................................................................80 Chapter 15 SENEGAL.....................................................................................................................................................................................................82 15.1 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)..................................................................................................................................................................82 Chapter 16 BURUNDI.....................................................................................................................................................................................................83 16.1The Jesuits (SJ)............................................................................................................................................................................................................83
  • 3. 5 Chapter 17 CHAD............................................................................................................................................................................................................84 17.1 Sisters of Charity (SOC)............................................................................................................................................................................................83 Chapter 18 CONGO.........................................................................................................................................................................................................85 18.1 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)...........................................................................................................................................................85 18.2 Sisters of The Sacred HEART of Jesus (RSCJ)........................................................................................................................................................86 Chapter 19 RWANDA......................................................................................................................................................................................................87 19.1 Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA)................................................................................................................................................87 Chapter 20 SOUTH AFRICA.........................................................................................................................................................................................88 20.1 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)...........................................................................................................................................................88 20.2 The Little Sisters of Jesus (LSJ)................................................................................................................................................................................90 20.3 The Little Sisters of The Gospel.................................................................................................................................................................................92 20.4 Lay Missionaries........................................................................................................................................................................................................93 THE AMERICAS Chapter 21 CANADA......................................................................................................................................................................................................96 21.1 The Beginnings...........................................................................................................................................................................................................96 21.2 The New Church........................................................................................................................................................................................................97 21.3 The Missionary Sisters of Jesus of Nazaret (MSJN).................................................................................................................................................99 21.4 The Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St Therese of The Child Jesus (CSST).........................................................................................................99 Chapter 22 THE MALTESE CHURCH IN THE USA...............................................................................................................................................100 22.1 Diocesan Priests.......................................................................................................................................................................................................100 22.2 Missionary Society of St. Paul (MSSP)..................................................................................................................................................................106 22.3 The Augustinian Sisters (OSA)...............................................................................................................................................................................107 22.4 Daughters of The Sacred Heart (DSH)....................................................................................................................................................................107 22.5 Franciscan Sisters of The Immaculate Heart of Mary (FMIHM).............................................................................................................................107 CENTRALAMERICA..................................................................................................................................................................................................109 Chapter 23 EL SALVADOR..........................................................................................................................................................................................109 Chapter 24 GUATEMALA............................................................................................................................................................................................112 24.1 Diocesan Priests........................................................................................................................................................................................................113 24.2 Missionaries of Charity (MC)..................................................................................................................................................................................116 Chapter 25 HONDURAS...............................................................................................................................................................................................117 25.1 The Friars Minor (OFM)..........................................................................................................................................................................................117 25.2 New Bishop of Juticalpa: Mgr Jose Bonello............................................................................................................................................................118 Chapter 26 CUBA..........................................................................................................................................................................................................123 26.1 Diocesan Priests.......................................................................................................................................................................................................123 26.2 The Franciscan Capuchins........................................................................................................................................................................................126
  • 4. 6 26.3 Lay Missionaries......................................................................................................................................................................................................126 Chapter 27 TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS............................................................................................................................................................128 27.1 Diocesan Priests.......................................................................................................................................................................................................128 Chapter 28 BOLIVIA....................................................................................................................................................................................................131 28.1 The Carmelites (OCarm)..........................................................................................................................................................................................131 Chapter 29 BRAZIL......................................................................................................................................................................................................134 29.1 Missionary Project for the Malta Seminary.............................................................................................................................................................134 29.2 Creation of Three Dioceses in The State of Parana..................................................................................................................................................135 29.3 The Seminaries in Brazil..........................................................................................................................................................................................136 29.4 North of Parana :- The Social Milieu.......................................................................................................................................................................137 29.5 The Archdiocese of Londrina...................................................................................................................................................................................139 29.6 The Archdiocese of Maringa....................................................................................................................................................................................145 29.7 The Diocese of Apucarana.......................................................................................................................................................................................156 29.8 The Archdiocese of São Paulo..................................................................................................................................................................................160 29.9 The Diocese of Osasco.............................................................................................................................................................................................163 The North East: Seminarians and Priests from Gozo.......................................................................................................................................................169 29.10 Paraiba....................................................................................................................................................................................................................170 29.11 Pernambuco............................................................................................................................................................................................................176 The Diocese of Recife......................................................................................................................................................................................................176 29.12 State of Alagoas......................................................................................................................................................................................................178 29.13 The Dominicans (OP)............................................................................................................................................................................................183 29.14 The Augustinians....................................................................................................................................................................................................191 29.15 The Augustinian Sisters - OSA.............................................................................................................................................................................198 29.16 The Franciscan Sisters of The Heart of Jesus (FCJ)..............................................................................................................................................200 29.17 Testimony of Dr Micallef Stafrace.........................................................................................................................................................................204 29.18 The Diocese of Guajará-Mirim..............................................................................................................................................................................206 Chapter 30 CHILE.........................................................................................................................................................................................................209 30.1 Diocesan Priests.......................................................................................................................................................................................................209 30.2 The Jesuits (SJ)........................................................................................................................................................................................................210 30.3 Lay Missionaries......................................................................................................................................................................................................213 Chapter 31 COLOMBIAAND PERU..........................................................................................................................................................................214 31.1 The Carmelites (OCarm)..........................................................................................................................................................................................214 31.2 The Franciscan Capuchins (OFM Cap)....................................................................................................................................................................215 31.3 PERU .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................216 31.3.1 Diocesan Priests....................................................................................................................................................................................................216 31.3.2 The Carmelites (O. CARM).................................................................................................................................................................................218
  • 5. 7 31.3.4 The Missionary Society of St Paul (MSSP)..........................................................................................................................................................218 31.3.5 Lay Missionaries...................................................................................................................................................................................................220 Chapter 32 PARAGUAY AND ARGENTINA.............................................................................................................................................................224 32.1 Sr Eufemia Buhagiar................................................................................................................................................................................................224 ASIA Chapter 33 KUWAIT......................................................................................................................................................................................................226 Chapter 34 IRAQ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................230 Chapter 35 ISRAEL......................................................................................................................................................................................................231 35.1 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM).........................................................................................................................................................231 35.2 Sisters of St. Joseph of The Apparition (SJA)........................................................................................................................................................233 35.3 Sisters of Our Lady of Sion......................................................................................................................................................................................233 35.4 JERUSALEM: Community of San Salvatore.........................................................................................................................................................237 Chapter 36 LEBANON..................................................................................................................................................................................................238 36.1 The Jesuits (SJ).........................................................................................................................................................................................................238 Chapter 37 TURKEY.....................................................................................................................................................................................................240 37.1 Franciscan Conventual Presence.............................................................................................................................................................................240 Chapter 38 BURMA.......................................................................................................................................................................................................243 38.1 - Franciscan Missionaries of Mary...........................................................................................................................................................................243 Chapter 39 INDIA..........................................................................................................................................................................................................244 39.1 The Capuchins (OFM Cap.).....................................................................................................................................................................................244 39.2 The Conventual Franciscans (OFM Conv.)..............................................................................................................................................................247 39.3 The Jesuits (SJ)........................................................................................................................................................................................................252 39.4 The Salesians of Don Bosco.....................................................................................................................................................................................266 39.5 Daughters of The Sacred Heart (DSH)...................................................................................................................................................................272 39.6 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)..............................................................................................................................................................274 39.7 Sisters of St. Joseph of The Apparition (SJA).........................................................................................................................................................277 39.8 The Society of the Sacred Heart...............................................................................................................................................................................279 39.9 Lay Missionaries......................................................................................................................................................................................................280 Chapter 40 PAKISTAN..................................................................................................................................................................................................285 40.1 The Dominican Sisters (OP).....................................................................................................................................................................................285 40.2 The Franciscan Sisters of The Heart of Jesus (FCJ)...............................................................................................................................................291 40.3 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)........................................................................................................................................................297 40.4 Sisters of Charity (SOC)..........................................................................................................................................................................................300 Chapter 41 SRI LANKA................................................................................................................................................................................................304 41.1 The Dominican Sisters (OP).....................................................................................................................................................................................304
  • 6. 8 41.2 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)...............................................................................................................................................................306 Chapter 42 INDONESIA...............................................................................................................................................................................................309 Chapter 43 LAOS...........................................................................................................................................................................................................311 43.1 Sisters of Charity (SOC)...........................................................................................................................................................................................311 Chapter 44 MALASYA..................................................................................................................................................................................................311 44.1 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM).................................................................................................................................................................311 Chapter 45 THE PHILIPINES.....................................................................................................................................................................................312 45.1 Diocesan Priests.......................................................................................................................................................................................................312 45.2 The Missionary Society of St Paul (MSSP).............................................................................................................................................................317 45.3 The Augustinian Sisters - OSA................................................................................................................................................................................318 45.4 Daughters of the Sacred Heart (DSH)......................................................................................................................................................................318 45.5 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)................................................................................................................................................................319 45.6 Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa................................................................................................................................................................320 45.7 The Sisters of St Dorothy.........................................................................................................................................................................................321 Chapter 46 THAILAND................................................................................................................................................................................................322 46.1 De La Salle Brothers (FSC).....................................................................................................................................................................................322 46.2 Sisters of Charity (SOC)..........................................................................................................................................................................................323 Chapter 47 CHINA........................................................................................................................................................................................................324 47.1 The Franciscans........................................................................................................................................................................................................324 47.2 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)................................................................................................................................................................325 Chapter 48 JAPAN.........................................................................................................................................................................................................326 Chapter 49 KOREA.......................................................................................................................................................................................................326 The Experience of a Family in South Korea....................................................................................................................................................................326 Chapter 50 TAIWAN......................................................................................................................................................................................................330 50.1 Discalced Carmelites................................................................................................................................................................................................330 50.2 The Sisters of St. Dorothy........................................................................................................................................................................................330 EUROPE Chapter 51 MALTA........................................................................................................................................................................................................334 51.1 Pope John Paul II at Sanctuary of Mellieha.............................................................................................................................................................334 51.2 Outstanding Testimonies..........................................................................................................................................................................................335 51.3 TMissionary Society of St Paul (MSSP)..................................................................................................................................................................336 51.4 Daughters of the Sacred Heart (DSH)....................................................................................................................................................................336 51.5 The Franciscan Sisters of The Heart of Jesus (FCHJ)............................................................................................................................................337 51.6 The Societas Doctrinae Cristianae (SDC)................................................................................................................................................................339 51.7 The Voluntary Lay Missionary (VLM)....................................................................................................................................................................340
  • 7. 9 51.8 The Share Foundation .............................................................................................................................................................................................342 51.9 Lisette Rizzo Naudi Memorial Fund ......................................................................................................................................................................342 51.10 The Movement “JESUS IN THY NEIGHBOUR”...............................................................................................................................................343 Chapter 52 AUSTRIA....................................................................................................................................................................................................344 Chapter 53 BELGIUM..................................................................................................................................................................................................346 Daughters of the Sacred Heart (DSH)..............................................................................................................................................................................346 Chapter 54 FRANCE.....................................................................................................................................................................................................346 Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition (SJA)....................................................................................................................................................................346 Chapter 55 GERMANY.................................................................................................................................................................................................347 Diocesan Priests...............................................................................................................................................................................................................347 Chapter 56 FAROE ISLANDS......................................................................................................................................................................................350 Chapter 57 LATVIA......................................................................................................................................................................................................352 Chapter 58 NORWAY....................................................................................................................................................................................................353 Chapter 59 ENGLAND..................................................................................................................................................................................................355 59.1 Fr Victor J. Camilleri (MSSP)..................................................................................................................................................................................355 59.2 The Francisan Friars (OFM CAP.)..........................................................................................................................................................................355 59.3 The Benedictines......................................................................................................................................................................................................356 59.4 The Augustinian Sisters (OSA)...............................................................................................................................................................................356 59.5 The Dominican Sisters (OP)....................................................................................................................................................................................357 59.6 Sisters of St Joseph of The Apparition (SJA).........................................................................................................................................................357 59.7 The Society of The Sacred Heart (RSCJ)................................................................................................................................................................358 59.8 Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA)............................................................................................................................................359 59.9 SDC M.U.S.E.U.M...................................................................................................................................................................................................360 Chapter 60 CZECH REPUBLIC..................................................................................................................................................................................362 60.1 The Sisters of the Good Shepherd............................................................................................................................................................................362 Chapter 61 GEORGIA..................................................................................................................................................................................................364 Neo-Cathecumenal Way...................................................................................................................................................................................................364 Chapter 62 POLAND.....................................................................................................................................................................................................365 62.1 The Missionary Carmelites of St Therese (O. Carm.)..............................................................................................................................................365 62.2 The Societas Doctrinae Cristiana SDC.....................................................................................................................................................................366 Chapter 63 ROMANIA..................................................................................................................................................................................................367 63.1 De La Salle Brothers - Thomas Bilocca (FSC)........................................................................................................................................................367 63.2 The Jesuits (SJ)........................................................................................................................................................................................................368 63.3 Sisters of St Joseph of The Apparition (SJA).........................................................................................................................................................369 Chapter 64 ALBANIA....................................................................................................................................................................................................371 64.1 The Dominicans (OP)...............................................................................................................................................................................................371
  • 8. 10 64.2 The SDC MUSEUM................................................................................................................................................................................................377 64.3 The Legion of Mary ................................................................................................................................................................................................381 Chapter 65 GIBRALTAR..............................................................................................................................................................................................383 Diocesan Priests...............................................................................................................................................................................................................383 Chapter 66 GREECE.....................................................................................................................................................................................................384 66.1 The Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus............................................................................................................................................................384 Chapter 67 ITALY..........................................................................................................................................................................................................385 67.1 Diocesan Priests.......................................................................................................................................................................................................385 67.2 Madre Anselma Mifsud ...........................................................................................................................................................................................390 67.3 Franciscan Missionaries of The Immaculate of Mary..............................................................................................................................................392 OCEANIA Chapter 68 AUSTRALIA..............................................................................................................................................................................................394 68.1 Introduction..............................................................................................................................................................................................................394 68.2 Diocesan Priest.........................................................................................................................................................................................................395 68.3 The Missionary of St Paul (MSSP).........................................................................................................................................................................402 68.4 The Carmelites (O. CARM)....................................................................................................................................................................................403 68.5 The Franciscan Friars (OFM).................................................................................................................................................................................403 68.6 The Augustinian Sisters (OSA)...............................................................................................................................................................................406 68.7 The Dominican Sisters (O.P)...................................................................................................................................................................................406 68.8 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)........................................................................................................................................................408 68.9 The Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus (FCJ).................................................................................................................................................409 68.10 Lay Missionaries....................................................................................................................................................................................................413 Chapter 69 TASMANIA................................................................................................................................................................................................421 Chapter 70 THE PACIFIC OCEAN.............................................................................................................................................................................422 Chapter 71 PAPUA NEW GUINEA.............................................................................................................................................................................423 71. 1 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)........................................................................................................................................................423 71.2 Dr Nazarene Azzopardi...........................................................................................................................................................................................423 Design and Development www.digimaxbrasil.com.br
  • 9. 11 Introduction
  • 10. 12 The Response of the Church of Malta and Gozo to the Gospel´s Appeal! Fr John Caruana When this daunting task came to my mind, I never imagined it would open such a wide horizon of world- wide contacts: I met bishops serving in different countries and environments, I met seminary rectors, vicar generals, hardworking parish priests and dedicated administrators on parochial and diocesan level. As one of them summed it up to me: “We have really and truly built all this from scratch and our hands have become callous”.  They really and truly helped organise the administration, the economics and above all the fundamental principles that should guide a diocese or a religious institution. And this is true of diocesan priests and religious, male and female, and in some cases even committed laity. I also met diocesan coordinators of the pastoral activity – an all-important activity in the Church that emerged after Vatican II. I met others who made decisive contributions in the social field, participating directly in structural reforms like the agricultural and urban reforms. I met a colleague who came almost face to face with the guerrillas in and around his parish. Another  one was involved in the defence of human rights in Latin America, and still another colleague who had helped thousands of families gain a piece of land, making land reform a reality, no more a dream. So many religious, male and female, who for decades worked in countries under dictatorial regimes continuously threatened by civil war, or in a Muslim society whose mission was to mark a presence knowing that they are destined to remain a minority all their life. It was heartening indeed to meet religious who were expelled from their adopted country and instead of returning to their home country beseeched their superior to post them to another mission.  It was an experience to speak to a priest working in the distant forest where he could only be reached by a two hour flight from the nearest airport or a one month journey by boat, and who in this remote place found a way to study and become a doctor to better serve the marginalised sick, deep in the forest. The Brazilian, Indian and Pakistani nuns I spoke to admitted they owe their religious vocation to the Maltese Church – a marvellous admission indeed! So many confessed to me they were involved in direct help to the poor with massive help coming from Malta and Gozo. These cared for the sick in their homes and in the hospitals, helped by a host of parish priests, most of the time being the only priest that has to care for the pastoral work we are accustomed to. The majority of other priests had to cope with the thorny problem of constructions in extensive new parishes which very often cropped up overnight, in countries where in building a new church or a pastoral centre they had to cope with spiralling inflation.  These new parishes were the result of the internal migration which, as a social force, is very common in large countries. When after World War II the emigration of thousands of Maltese
  • 11. 13 families to Australia, North America, and Western Europe started, the Church in Malta through the Emigrants Commission and the backing of Archbishop Michael Gonzi responded to the emigrants` spiritual needs by sending several priests and religious. The “massive help” coming from Malta and Gozo I referred to earlier should not be underestimated. Recently, at the time of writing, a study was published dealing with contributions made by individual countries to help solve world poverty. To my pleasant surprise, Malta was posted in the first place in its financial help given to poor countries. If this is so, one can easily conclude that the Maltese were positively influenced by the generosity of so many priests, religious and laity serving the Church in so many poor countries as missionaries. I tried during these last two years or so to make personal contact with as many missionaries as possible. I had fruitful interviews with them and I can testify that every missionary found it enjoyable remembering how it all started – the sufferings encountered to separate oneself from one´s relatives and friends and the Maltese environment in general. They agreed that this would not have been possible had there not been built in them a great love for the Church, instilled in them in the first place by their families. This love developed in an ardent desire to go and preach the Gospel where it was needed, whether in the first, second or third world. Jointly with all this was an obsession, yes, one could call it so, to help the poor who lacked everything especially in the third world countries. As one missionary put it to me: “this missionary adventure of one and all, including of the nuns and sisters, who very often arrived first in these far off countries before us men, helped the Maltese people as a whole to be interested in the huge problems that beset these countries.”  And still, one other missionary put it to me in these words: “this positive point should be attributed to the Church of Malta and Gozo, which despite its internal contradictions and divisions, succeeded to pass on to us this difficult call of the Gospel – to leave family, friend and country and follow Christ and preach Him where he was not sufficiently known or not known at all, and serve the poor because of Him”.   Indeed any authentic historian of the Church in Malta and Gozo cannot fail to delve and try to discover the secret behind this hidden force, which impelled an appreciable number of its sons and daughters to serve the Church beyond our shores for a number of years. Some never came back. The first missionary from the ranks of the Maltese Missionaries of St. Paul – the MSSP – who made it to Abyssinia stayed for thirty years or more. In fact he never returned - he was buried in Abyssinia – and he was not the only one! On the other hand, as one missionary put it to us when we were still at the Seminary, we should be able to appreciate those who dedicate themselves to this cause for a limited number of years. It was good to hear, in my conversations with families whose head had once served the church as a priest or religious, and were now married, the comment “The Church never disappeared from the life of my husband”. Other people at large praised those ex-priests who were now in their new vocation as married men. Whilst understandably they tried to make a future for their families, they still made it a point to help their adopted country, in fields where special talents were lacking. We must also be thankful for those who after serving in the mission for ten, fifteen, twenty or more years, have returned to their homeland to regain their health or to pass the last years of their lives with friends or relatives they had grown up with, relating the beautiful and sad experiences they had passed through. An elderly priest once aptly pointed out to me: even the eagle which flies far and wide during all its life, at the end goes back to its original nest. The Church in Malta gave birth to an epoch which saw its members grow and flourish and bear abundant fruit in the fertile land of the world´s five continents. This marvellous epoch may pass, but as long as it lasts, it continues to leave an indelible mark Introduction
  • 12. 14 in all the nations through which our missionaries passed. Indeed this contribution was small and great at the same time. Small reflecting our population size and Great because the Maltese Church owes its birth to the Greatest of the Apostles, St. Paul. His shipwreck and acceptance of the gospel by the inhabitants as recorded at length in the Acts of the Apostles, bore abundant fruit. I tried to be true and just with all the communities who served in all the countries in the five continents. If I have left out anybody who tried to enter in contact with me, it was not planned and I therefore apologise. The aim of the book is not meant to be a history book, although one meets some patches of historical background. As its name implies, The Maltese Missionary Experience the aim of the book is to show the span of the nations visited by our missionaries and through the experience of several of them one can have an idea of the work they tried to embark upon. This aim, I believe, was achieved because the collaboration from the various missions was outstanding. This book is meant to help the reader feel the Drama these people lived and are living, and also help the reader realise that the life of these people was and is indeed a Celebration of Faith! My final purpose, after all, was to give glory to God for such generosity among the Maltese and Gozitans. My thanks goes to all who helped me achieve this goal.   Message of Pope Francis on Mission Sundaw 2013 I would like to encourage all to become bearers of the good news of Christ and I am grateful especially to missionaries, to the Fidei Donum priests, men and women religious and lay faithful - more and more numerous – who by accepting the Lord’s call, leave their homeland to serve the Gospel in different lands and cultures. But I would also like to emphasise that these same young churches are engaging generously in sending missionaries to the Churches that are in difficulty - not infrequently Churches of ancient Christianity - thus bringing the freshness and enthusiasm with which they live their faith that renews life and gives hope.  To live in this universal freshness, responding to the mandate of Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28, 19) is richness for each particular Church, each community because sending missionaries is never a loss, but a gain. I appeal to all those who feel the call to respond generously to the Holy Spirit, according to your state in life, not to be afraid to be generous with the Lord. I also invite Bishops, religious families, communities and all Christian groups to support, with foresight and careful discernment, theAd Gentes missionary call and help Churches that need priests, religious and laity to strengthen the Christian community. And this attention should also be present among Churches that are part of the same Episcopal Conference or Region because it is important that Churches rich in vocations help more generously those that suffer their shortage. Together I urge the missionaries, especially the Fidei Donum priests and laity to live with joy their precious service in the Churches to which they are sent and to bring their joy and experience to the Churches from which they come, remembering how Paul and Barnabas at the end of their first missionary journey “reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). They can become the way to a kind of “return” of faith, bringing the freshness of the Introduction
  • 13. 15 young Churches so that Churches of ancient Christianity rediscover the enthusiasm and the joy of sharing the faith in an exchange that is mutual enrichment in the journey of following the path of the Lord. The concern towards all the Churches, that the Bishop of Rome shares with his brother Bishops, is an important commitment in the implementation of the Pontifical Mission Societies (Missio). Missio is called to enable Christians to offer their prayers and their help to spread the Gospel in the world and deepen the missionary conscience of every baptised Christian and of every community, by reminding them of the need for a more profound missionary formation of the whole People of God. Finally a thought to Christians who, in various parts of the world, have difficulty in openly professing their faith and in being recognised and given the right to live with dignity. They are our brothers and sisters, courageous witnesses - even more numerous than our martyrs in the early centuries - who endure with apostolic perseverance the many current forms of persecution. Quite a few also risk their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ. I wish to assure my closeness in prayer to individuals, families and communities who suffer violence and intolerance and I repeat to them the consoling words of Jesus: “Take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Benedict XVI exhorted that: “the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you” (“2Thess 3:1): May this Year of Faith increasingly strengthen our relationship with Christ the Lord, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love” (Porta Fidei, 15). This is my wish for World Mission Sunday this year. I cordially bless missionaries and all those who accompany and support this fundamental commitment of the Church to proclaim the Gospel to all corners of the earth, and we, ministers and missionaries of the Gospel, will experience “the delightful and comforting joy of evangelising” (PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi,80.) From the Vatican, 19 May 2013, Solemnity of Pentecost. Message from Mgr. Paul Cremona, Archbishop of Malta  So often has it been said that St Paul had brought the Faith of the Good News to our shores but he had also sown in the Maltese hearts a missionary seed that has borne so much fruit.  After all, St Paul was himself the greatest missionary the Church has ever had. No wonder, St John Paul II in his first Pastoral visit to our islands in 1990 had these words to say to the Maltese missionaries and their families gathered in the square of the Sanctuary of Il-Madonna tal-Mellieha: “It fills us with great joy to see the dedication of so many sons and daughters of these islands who have answered the call of the Lord to do mission work abroad.  Such an answer is the spiritual fruit of the Faith that the Apostle had sowed in these islands centuries ago... if only other countries follow the example of Malta where the Catholic Faith has flourished for centuries and as many as their men and women leading ordinary, daily life, will also bear witness to the mystery of Introduction
  • 14. 16 God’s love as revealed by Jesus Christ among their neighbours.” Nearer to our times, the words of Pope Benedict XVI still echo in our ears.  A few hours after he had landed on the 17th April 2010, he was driven to the Parish Church of St Paul in Rabat to meet a good number of the Maltese missionaries gathered inside the church. Afterwards, standing before the Grotto of St Paul, he addressed the gathering with these words: “Paul’s Apostolic work has borne abundant fruit in generations of missionaries who have followed in his footsteps.  We note the great number of priests and religious who have imitated his missionary zeal by leaving the shores of these islands to carry the Good News to distant lands.  Today, I have been given the opportunity to meet so many of these in this church dedicated to St Paul. I encourage you in this challenging and heroic call.” Then Pope Benedict turned to face the missionaries around him and in a moving voice said: “Your presence and your work in so many parts of the world does honour to your country and is a telling witness of the evangelical stimulus deep-rooted in the Maltese Church.” The missionary call has been heard by so many generous hearts that have heard the call and accepted it.  When the Priest is baptising, he makes the sign of the Cross on the child’s ears bidding them open to the Word of God and then he makes the sign of the Cross on the child’s lips bidding them spread the Word. He will be encouraging the new members of the Church to dedicate their life to the apostolate. So many diocesan priests, religious and even laymen have heard the call, have risen to the occasion and have left our shores to go and spread the Good News abroad. It was, therefore, fitting that someone would write down the story of so many missionaries who have left our country to bear witness to Christ in far off lands. In this book, Fr John Caruana has taken the initiative to record this story of generosity and heroism. He did not write a chronology of events as they had happened in time but instead he opted to record personal experiences of those who had answered the call to go to the missions.  Reading this book, we cannot but be overwhelmed by the spirituality and generosity of so many hearts and in all humility thank God for the fruit reaped by these missionaries. Such zeal and determination cannot but make us stand up and note, look at the Missions in a new light and make us participate more in their work through prayer and financial support.  Message from Mgr Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo Message of a culture of love Last summer, while attending a meeting in Rimini, I was invited to visit an exhibition about the history of the Church in Albania. The guide’s cry of astonishment upon learning that I came from Malta, still reverberates in my heart. With glowing eyes she asked for Fr. Emanuel Cutajar, one of our missionaries in Albania. This young woman explained that she was a university lecturer thanks to the help of this Gozitan missionary priest who helped her obtain a university degree from an Italian University. This episode will remain imprinted in my memory! It was a confirmation of the great good this priest is doing in the Introduction
  • 15. 17 Introduction missions! I am deeply convinced that this is only one event in a long chain of profoundly human experiences tied to the many priests, religious and lay persons from the Diocese of Gozo, who through the years left our island to go to the missions. Who can recount all the beautiful life stories written by so many individuals, families and communities with the exceptional help offered by our missionaries! These missionaries gave up their life in order to lay the foundations of both the Church and society. As much as they raised churches for the Divine cult, they likewise set up social structures for the safeguard of human dignity.  Insomuch as they proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so they spoke up for human rights especially for social justice! It was not enough that they built homes, hospitals, schools and homes for orphans; they also laboured hard to build a culture of love which is the soul of all ecclesial and social structures. I am most grateful to our missionaries who with their priceless work succeeded to widen the confines of this diocese! Their contribution ensured that the local church puts human and material resources at the service of the missions! I firmly believe that one of our treasures is the generosity of the Gozitans towards the missions. I am referring both to the recurrent generous contributions of the faithful and to the present missionaries, in particular the young lay missionaries! I am grateful to Fr. John Caruana for compiling all this precious information thus producing a fitting monument for those missionaries who not only generated life in missionary countries but also served to keep our Christian faith alive. As Pope Paul VI once said: a Church which has lost its missionary spirit, is a lifeless church Dr Oliver Friggieri The strong relationship between history and faith in Malta is one of the essential components defining the island. It can be said that the importance of religion predates even the arrival of Saint Paul, as the Maltese ancient stone buildings are themselves the earliest expression of ritual in the life of the inhabitants. Throughout the centuries this legacy attained even greater importance, to the point that for various centuries no distinction could be identified between politics and religion. Although such a traditional identification was inevitably bound to lead to conflict, it can be safely assumed that faith and culture flourished in Malta as two forms of expression of one single phenomenon: interest in truth which in itself is limitless, resisting being closed within the rigid confines of the small island. Both Christianity and culture flourished together as the complex essence of one single community.      Such a long, uninterrupted bond led to the local priest being naturally considered as the real moral and political leader of the Maltese. The clergy is identifiable with the more important developments of modern Malta. It is mainly due to the clerical influence on the rest of the population, and mainly of the intellectual sector, that, for instance, nineteenth century
  • 16. 18 pressure groups caused the formation of the earliest political parties, and that literature in Maltese was born and moved ahead in its various initial stages. For instance, Malta’s main national hero, Mikiel Xerri, and national hero, Carmelo Psaila, were both priests. This point can be developed at length and in diverse directions, always conducive to the basic conclusion: the clergy constituted a solid point of reference in all fields of political activity and artistic achievement. At the core of such a situation is the fact that, although dominated by foreign powers, the island, traditionally deprived of basic rights, was already organised on a national level, namely as an organic  system based on a number of parishes. Malta could eventually claim to attain nationhood through its being organised in terms of a number of parochial districts, and so it could finally claim to be recognised as a state. At the centre of all this there was the Parish Priest, the effective, but unacknowledged political leader of his community. In such a context the importance of the Maltese clergy in the international field can be immediately explained and understood. Numerous diocesan priests, friars and nuns have long decided that they could give their share to the spread of the Gospel even outside the restricted territory of the island. Their contribution to the universal Church is old, uninterrupted, wide and consistent. These people have literally invaded the Church worldwide. They all felt the urge to go beyond the limits of their country, almost to prove that Malta was strong enough as to insert itself in numerous countries. The main motive behind such a massive presence of Maltese missionaries is, of course, religious. They were and still are driven by the conviction that evangelisation knows no national barriers, and is by definition universal. But it cannot be ignored that they all tended to somehow retain their Maltese identity wherever they settled. If such an interpretation is correct, then it follows that the historical relationship of the Maltese Church with the Maltese reality itself was never ignored or bypassed.  As the influence of the Vatican Council started to be felt at all levels within the Church, numerous lay persons, both male and female, became aware that, given the new approach of the Church as well as their own nature in the field of evangelisation, they themselves could now give their share. Their presence within such a movement further shows that the sense of the universal Church was always felt within the local one.    Such a book on such an accomplishment was long overdue. Rev. Fr. John Caruana, himself a missionary who has spent so many years in Brazil, has compiled such an exhaustive account not simply out of an obvious deep sense of respect towards his colleagues, but also with the aim of further putting the Catholic Church of Malta in its proper universal perspective. His research into the matter is a work of love, indeed an expression of his desire to see such people duly recognised and appreciated for what they have done on such a wide scale as both Catholic and Maltese. Again, this dual character of such a compendium cannot be ignored or underestimated. Fr John, as the author is affectionately known by all his friends of his generation and perhaps by others as well, has really done a good job which will be duly appreciated by all. As one goes through this detailed account, equally impressive and fascinating in terms of words and photos, one cannot fail to feel a profound sense of appreciation and gratitude towards so many religious members of the Maltese people. They have given so much to so many for such a long time. Father Caruana has done a job deserving the attention and admiration of all, for such a phenomenon demands to be known by more people in Malta, and eventually by the Catholic Church at large. The account is quite intriguing, at times very moving, and always indicative of the depth with which the Maltese Church has preserved Our Lord’s message to the early Maltese and how subsequent generations sought to spread the good news to all else, literally to all parts of the planet. Father Caruana is providing another example of Introduction
  • 17. 19 how such a tiny nation has given so much to the rest of the world.As already stated, the Maltese bond between faith and life has been, and will hopefully go on being, a document of Christian conviction as well as a commitment towards the construction of a better world.  Dr Oliver Friggieri A Hearty Thank You! A hearty Thank You! My first words of thanks go to all the Missionaries and religious congregations who collaborated in the writing of the book by their various and excellent contributions as the reader will surely realise. One may also gauge the generosity of their contribution by the fact that I had to select samples from as many as 2,400 photos sent by missionaries the world over. Thanks also to the producers of Vuċi Missjunarja, Dr Frank Cassar and Helen Sammut, who run the weekly programme on Radju Marija. They should be credited not only for letting me use any material which I found useful, but also because several missionaries referred me to their programme if more information was required. Vuċi Missjunarja has become a very helpful link between the Maltese population and the Missionaries. Thanks also to The Emigrants Commission who through Fr. Vella, the Director, helped me to establish contact with priests, religious and laity working with the emigrants. Thanks also to my colleague and special friend, Prof Thomas Bonnici of Maringá, Brazil, formerly of Żebbug, Malta, himself an author of several books, for discussing with me for hours on end. He was instrumental in my decisions on how best to go about it. Hearty thanks also go to my friend Dr Oliver Friggieri, who had the patience to read the text and forwarded a relevant critique on the project. Thanks to Fr Miguel Pace of Apucarana, Brazil, and Fr John Sammut of Mosta who, as loyal school mates gave me their first impressions, helpful criticism and words of encouragement when I started putting pen to paper. A special thanks goes to Michelle Caruana of Hamrun who as a great sympathizer of the Mission Cause designed the book cover. Thanks goes to my friend Edwin Parascandolo who with his technical help gave me the first impression how the book would and could look like. Also I would like to mention the help my special friend Flavio Batisti always gives me when I come to discuss articles of any sort. He really understands me and helps me interpret my thoughts. The same happened in writing this book.! A special thanks too to Fr.Raphael Demartino and his sister Maria Demartino who gave me their support and word of encouragement when at times things were getting difficult. Like wise a special thanks for Fr Joe Borg who with his extensive experience in the field of the media gave me all the explanations that I needed. My thanks go also to Major Ray Miller.for his meticulous proof reading. And last but not least the Cathedral Chapter and the Aps Bank for their financial support. Thanks are also due to H.L., Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo who, following a brief conversation on the good works of my companions, was inspired to ask me if I would accept the challenge and introduced the idea to H.G. Archbishop Paul Cremona of Malta. The latter promptly accepted the idea and through Mgr Anton Gouder, I was introduced to Mgr Salvinu Micallef, National Director of the PMS in Malta who accepted to finance the publishing of the book. And lastly my thanks go to Mr Vincent Cachia of Balzan, former Head Master of The Lyceum, who, as a dedicated Legionary, accepted to accompany me in writing the book. The two of us accepted this task as being part of our vocation. He not only helped me in my writing - which I definitely needed - but, more important still, his help proved decisive in our fortnightly, Introduction
  • 18. 20 two-hour meetings, during which we discussed the various contributions coming from practically all over the globe, trying to keep to the point and avoiding unnecessary digressions. I consider him the “ghost author” of this book.   About Fr John Caruana Fr John Caruana, 73, born in Mosta, Malta, on June 3rd 1941, was ordained priest in Malta on March 11th 1967. He always felt that the missionary vocation was a great gift of God, but had to wait for seventeen whole years to fulfil his missionary calling. He joined his old friends who preceded him in the Dioceses of Maringá, Apucarana and Londrina, in the northern region of the state of Parana, Brazil. While still in Malta, Fr John served as Vocation Director for a couple of years, then moved to St Julian’s Parish for thirteen years, working as vice Parish Priest. He was later appointed Administrative Secretary of the Archbishop’s Seminary when it moved to Tal-Virtù. During this period he involved himself in the Council of Vice-Parish Priests where he formed part of the Kunsill Rappreżentattiv Djoċesan (KRD). He was appointed Chairman of a special Commission to establish a just salary scheme for diocesan priests. He also served as President of the Christus Rex Society and on the editorial board of the monthly publication Pastor. He was also co- founder of the weekly page, formerly known as Catholic Outlook, in “The Sunday Times of Malta”. He left for Brazil on September 7th 1984 and was soon appointed to serve the people as Parish Priest of the Nossa Senhora das Graças Parish in Sarandi, which at that time had a population of about 40,000 people (which has now grown to 85,000). Fr John dedicated himself to the pastoral of church base communities which were being planted at that time, and totally backed the social movements working in favour of land reform and trade unions. He was most fond of the working class. He worked for two years in Guajará-mirim in Rondonia, within the Amazon region, in a Parish twinned with his Diocese in Maringá. After spending two and a half years in Malta working on this book, in 2013 he returned to his original parish Nossa Senhora das Graças in Sarandi PR Brazil as vice-parish priest. Introduction
  • 19. 21Africa
  • 20. 22 Part One NORTH AFRICA Chapter 1 ____________ ALGERIA 1.1 Augustinian Friars (OSA) The presence of theAugustinian Friars inAlgeria is a clear sign of faith for the Church and for their founder Saint Augustine, that Christ is felt in the Islamic world. The Church shows solidarity towards the Algerian population in a tangible way. With its presence, Saint Augustine is living not only in history but even in the spirit of community. The community of Hippo, included until recently two Maltese priests: Fr Pierre Desira and Fr Raphael Abdilla. They live as witnesses of Christ and of the Augustinian charisma. The threat of terrorism still exists in this country. However the situation in Algeria is improving. The citizens cannot accept the dictatorship of fundamentalists anymore. Or to be closed in a religious and cultural ghetto. The perception on Algeria has changed, and it is no longer considered as a dangerous country, as confirmed by the commissions and delegations that regularly visit Algeria. In order to have more economic cooperation, Algeria has to invest on international level to be
  • 21. 23 centre to distribute milk for babies, and people to serve as sacristans. He offered a building and assured financial help. In 1943 during an air raid over Algiers, the convent sustained a direct hit and collapsed on the nuns. Fortunately the children were in the shelter with the religious. Fifteen nuns lost their life under the rubble. The whole central part of the building was a total loss, yet the Blessed Sacrament was found intact in the sacred vessels. Eleven nuns remained to carry on and continue the work. Several years had to pass before a new group of nuns could dare to offer a fraternal witness to this tormented country. Sr Rosaria Agius of Żebbuġ. Mila is a welcoming village in the mountains region, West Constantine, the then Diocese of St Augustine. In Mila Sr Rosaria was with three other French FMM nuns, in an old building, that once served as barracks to the French Army. Excavations revealed that these barracks were built over a mosque that was in turn built over a Byzantine Church and this over a Roman temple.Among the ruins a huge statue of a goddess was found dating back from the Roman period. At the time the New Algerian Government was concentrating its energy in what was termed as The Triple Revolution: Industrial, Agricultural and Cultural. The authorities were trying to empower the people to give their share and encouraged them to send their children young and old to school. The students were given money if they attended lessons. So the Education Authorities were looking for more teachers. Sr Rosaria applied for the job and was accepted to teach English in the Lyceum for boys and girls of Mila. The classes were crowded, averaging 45 to 50 students in each class. This meant hard work and it was very demanding but for Sr Rosaria it was a unique experience. She was the only Christian on the staff and was respected by both staff and students, especially when it was learned she was not doing it for money. The students became her friends. They confided their stories to Sr Rosaria and she listened attentively and advised. Most of able to face unemployment, infrastructure and agriculture. Foreign representatives recognised the needs of Algeria and positive outcomes have arisen and entrepreneurs are ready to invest. The call for the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary to Algeria came from Bishop Leynaud who knew the FMM in Carthage and desired to have the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa. The first group of FMM arrived in Algiers in 1920. The nuns looked not only to the needs of the Basilica but also of the little orphan girls. Algeria Chapter 1.2 ____________ FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES OF MARY (FMM) Muslims liked to pray to the Mother of Jesus and to watch the motionless adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. In 1924 there were about fifty orphans, both Europeans and Africans. The younger ones went to school. The older girls were trained in the workroom. The success of both groups attracted girls from the outskirts. The second foundation was in Souk-Ahras in 1934, where the Parish Priest requested to have a dispensary, a workroom, a
  • 22. 24 the students came from very poor families. But she was loved and was often invited to their ‘homes’ to share their meagre meal. Sr Yvonne Gera of Birkirkara, was sent because of health problems from Senegal toAlgeria as she did not wish to return to Europe but stay on the Missions. Her main work in Algiers was as a secretary in the Curia with Cardinal Leon Etienne Duval and later with Mgr Henri Teissier, a humble Bishop indeed. In Algeria she had worked in the four dioceses. As part of her work Sr Yvonne prepared the catechumens. The nuns had good contacts with the women of the village as one of them had a workroom for Female Formation. Women used to seek the nuns’ advice, and were often sent by their own husbands for counselling. The hospitality of the Algerians was fantastic. They shared everything with the nuns. During Ramadan they invited them for their evening meals. The nuns learnt a lot from this sharing as even the poorest families gave of what they had. In 1988, when trouble started, the solidarity of the population never lacked. The terrorists were only a handful of people. The Church lost 19 members, male and female religious, but it was not a religious war. Sr Yvonne herself knew personally all the 19 who were killed. More than 300,000 Algerians were killed. None of the religious was forced to remain in Algeria. The Algerians themselves often advised them to leave the country but the nuns used to tell them that a captain would never abandon the ship while it was sinking. Sr Yvonne left Algeria in 2002 when the situation calmed down but she was having health problems and it was wise for her to return home. Sr Moira Zarb of Żabbar, joined the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in October 1964 when she was already 27 years old. She has been in Algeria since 1982. She helped the women sewing and knitting. The nuns were of four nationalities, French, Japanese, Italian and herself, Sr Moira. She was called to found a fraternity in the west to take care of the children. With the other nuns she worked for eleven years in Tiaret, but they then had to leave because of the situation. She relocated to Chechar for eleven years, and was then sent to Tebessa. There she taught French and English, helped the women in sewing and visited the old people teaching them macramé. Recently she was asked to go for five months to another community in the South to help the nuns over there.   Africa
  • 23. 25 2.1 Introduction Early Maltese Presence in Egypt In Il-Franġiskani Maltin, Fr George Aquilina OFM, says that it is a fact that the Mediterranean people, notwithstanding their different beliefs, mixed amongst themselves very easily and built a friendly relationship. The Maltese sailed and did business. Egypt was no exception. The Egyptians looked for our ports. For her commerce, Malta depended on big cities such as Cairo, Alexandria, Constantinople and others which provided huge markets. Among other ‘merchandise’ the slave trade was very common. Godfrey Wettinger writes: ‘The undertaking of the Emperor of Morocco to ransom the Muslim slaves of Malta throws a curious sidelight on the eighteenth century, the Age of Enlightenment. However, it is unlikely that there was any connection with such a peculiar European climate of opinion flaunting rights of liberty based on Rights of Man.’Napoleon ended this trade in 1798, but not quite. The buying and selling of children especially between Egypt and Europe lasted till 1887 (there exists an excellent study on this by T. Todaro, 2008). The first contact with Egypt was then one of commerce, with the families of those involved in this commerce and of those who fell victim to slavery. It was the friars who bothered to redeem the slaves. In Alexandria in 1628 we come across Michael Albino from Rabat, Malta, who most probably took care of the slaves. It was not rare that the Maltese who were taken as slaves became Muslims to return to Christianity later. Everything shows that since the end of the seventeenth century the presence of the Maltese friars in Egypt was continuous, including sons of Maltese who emigrated to Egypt. There on the 26th May 1693 Michelangelo Chircop died whilst assisting victims of the plague. In 1697 mention is made of Antonin from Rabat who used to buy medicines for the sick and, acting Egypt as a doctor, distributed them to the Christians. He too fell victim of the plague in 1718. Fr Anthony Fenech settled in Egypt after his ordination. Arriving in Cairo, he travelled to el Minya to practice his Arabic. His first assignment was eventually at el Minya where he stayed for three years, working mostly with adolescents and youths. After working for two years in the Jesuits’ High School - Collège de la Sainte-Famille - he asked to go to Armant, a big village in the Luxor Governorate in Upper Egypt. There he spent eight years, involving himself in social work. When the time for a change arrived, he was sent to el Minya, with the expressed intention to take care of the Social Centre which the Jesuits ran in the slum area of Gad-el-Sid. There they offered a wide variety of social, educational, recreational and religious activities. This Centre amongst the poor of Gad- el-Sid was the result of the Jesuits’decision that any expansion of their work would be in favour of the poor, respecting the Church’s own proposal since Vatican II. The Social Centre tries to cover the needs of the community which normally are not covered by the civil authorities. Many people in that area are on or below the poverty line - some are in actual misery. They met many benefactors from Cairo and el Minya itself. A number of volunteers gave their time and energy during the summer months. In a learned and extensive interview in Catholic View, Fr Anthony Fenech S.J. discusses three issues in particular, which help one better understand the Egyptian people Chapter 2 ____________ EGYPT Chapter 2.2 ____________ THE JESUITS (SJ)
  • 24. 26 ‘The Christians of Egypt, though now a minority at home, are nevertheless the largest Christian community in the Moslem nations of the Middle East. The Copts, the name by which Egyptian Christians are known, are very proud of their apostolic origin in the person of St. Mark. One can still sense in the unfolding of the Coptic rite some of the flavour of the early Christian liturgies. One must not think that Christians in Egypt live in the Catacombs! One is surprised with what ease Christians speak freely about religious matters in front of non-Christians. Without trying to deny that there may be certain difficulties, yet in everyday life, the good Egyptian people are generally much more tolerant than we are led to believe. The Centre in el Minya has been functioning for the last 35 years in an area where there are no similar facilities. Various activities cater for various people of different ages and include the following: after school evening studies, morning kindergarten, summer clubs, scouting at all three levels, youth groups, mother and child programme, lending and reading library, limited computer facilities, sewing lessons, catechism, wide range of social work including professional and material help. All activities are open to both Muslims and Christians, except for religious activities. The Centre does not propose an alternative way of worship. The Centre is not a Church and the services and activities that it proposes to every-one are non-religious. The Muslims at the Centre know quite well who Fr Anthony S.J. is and in fact they call him Father without feeling embarrassed. This does not hinder the leaders that in teaching Catholic Doctrine the differences that might exist between the churches are pointed out with respect and sincerity. Fr Joseph Mizzi hails from St. George’s parish in Gozo.After fifteen years of novitiate and academic life, he was ordained in the Church of Manresa at the hands of Bishop Nikol Cauchi on the 8th July 1976. After his ordination he went to Lebanon and Egypt, where he studied and trained in the Arabic language. He has been in Egypt since 1977. This special ministry brought him in contact with thousands of Egyptian students, mostly Christians but also with Muslims. In fact, the Collège de la Sainte-Famille is popular with all strata of Egyptian society due to their high standard and character formation. ‘We maintain a deep respect for the respective religious identities of the students and provide religious instruction to all according to their various creeds and confession,’ says Fr Mizzi. Besides his scholastic duties, Fr Mizzi also carries out his pastoral ministry at the parish. He has spent 25 years in the village of Armant el Wabourat, near el Minya, some 200 kilometres from the famous site of Luxor in the south of Egypt, and the last four years in Cairo. Here he assists in the running of one of the Jesuit schools the Collège de la Sainte-Famille that traces its origin to 1879. This college was built at the request of Leo XIII as a seminary and basically provides education for boys from the upper kindergarten level to the senior high school. The school includes 3 campuses: the Petit Collège du Caire (PCC), the Grand Collège and the Petit Collège d’Heliopolis (PCH). During the Arab Spring in Egypt, the situation was quite confusing in Cairo. On the first anniversary of the revolution - January 25th - many believed that unpredictable events may happen, as the triple- stage elections took place. The results showed that the Muslim Brotherhood Party and the more radical Salifist Party had almost two thirds of the votes. People - both moderate Muslims and the Christian minority – were worried. What will happen under an Islamist government? At the Jesuit College, many asked themselves if it is safe enough to bring students to school. Parents were scared and hesitated to send their children to school. Thugs were everywhere on the streets, kidnapping children and even grownups. In this atmosphere it was almost impossible for teachers and students alike to obtain the necessary peace of Africa
  • 25. 27 mind to teach and learn. It all seemed to be a futile operation. And yet, as a school, the College is called to fight back, mostly by encouraging others, by seeking opportunities to bring some joy, like the wonderful evening of Christmas carols that was organised open to other students. Since 1968 Sr M. Carmelita Sammut from Żejtun has been working in Egypt. She spent three years in Alexandria teaching English, then was sent to Kasr El Nil in Cairo where she stayed for 17 years teaching English and doing all sorts of work helping those in need. In 1988 she was sent to Luxor where she still is today. The Congregation has a Primary School, a clinic for the needy and an orphanage which receives girls from 5 years on, including 20 year old youths. On the 26th September 1965 Sr M. Imelda Muscat together with three other Italian nuns left from Naples for Egypt on M.V Esperia arriving in Alexandria. Sr Imelda remained in Alexandria where the Congregation had four schools attached to the convents. She taught English to students in the 3rd and 4th class. She worked in Beni Suef where the Orthodox religion has great influence and at a certain time children were not sent to the nuns’ school. She also worked in Abou Tig where the Coptic Catholics were more influential and it was possible for the children to frequent the activities of the nuns. The nuns visited the sick in hospitals, visited the families and gave courses in sewing. This work spread to the other villages around. Recently Sr Imelda, after 47 years in Egypt, was asked to serve in Ghana in Africa. In 1966 Sr Victoria Gauci of Ħamrun, who in 1953 had joined the congregation was sent to the United States of America to start a new Mission in New Jersey. Three years later she was posted to Cairo, Egypt where she taught English in the school Egypt which belonged to the Congregation. She was also asked to closely follow children born of mixed marriages. From Cairo she was sent to Assiut in Upper Egypt where she was responsible for the school, and also visited villages, helped the poor and started vocational animation. God blessed this work with many vocations. Her last mission station was Ibrahemia, Alexandria where she worked in two different school offices, one French speaking and the other English speaking. Once, the parish priest asked her if she could prepare five university students to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, their first Holy Communion and Confirmation. In Alexandria there was a Sudanese Community formed of persons who had escaped from their country because of the civil war. When the first group was prepared and received the initial sacraments, other groups followed asking to receive the sacraments of initiation. Couples who were married according to the culture of their respective tribes, also asked for a special preparation to bless their marriage in the Church. Till today as many as 980 persons have joined the Church. These Sudanese people were poor and Sr Victoria sought the help of Caritas to help them on a monthly basis. She also received help from the Mission Fund of Mosta and from other benefactors. God also blessed the mission with the ordination of the first Franciscan Sudanese priest who is now responsible for the Sudanese community. Every month they say Mass for the benefactors that have helped and still help them with their prayers and donations. Sr M. Joan Antida Vella of Rabat Malta joined in 1970 desiring to become a missionary. In 1978 she was sent to Ponta Grossa, Parana in Brazil to serve in a hospital which was her lifelong desire. After ten years in Brazil she was sent to the Holy Land. She served in a hospital in Haifa, Israel, in the operating theatre. She established continuous dialogue with the three main religions, Christian, Jewish and Muslim. Sr Joan feels that her mission is to help those who suffer to overcome their sufferings. Chapter 2.3 ____________ FRANCISCAN MISSIONARY SISTERS OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY (FMIHM) - MISSIONARIES OF EGYPT
  • 26. 28 Sr M. Catherine Muscat. After she terminated her novitiate and made her First Profession in 1961 she was asked to go to Libya where the congregation had a school for Italian children and other foreigners. She was expelled from Libya and after a short time in Malta she was sent to Amman in Jordan to take care of the children of broken families aged between three and six years. In 1981 Sr Catherine was sent to the Mount of the Beatitudes in the Holy Land to take care of the sanctuary. From there she proceeded to Syria. In her old age she retired to a home for the elderly nuns near a refugee camp. Sr M. Luigina from Valletta made her first profession in 1958. She was sent to Libya to work in an international school where she gave piano lessons. When the nuns were obliged to leave Libya in 1971, after a short stay in Rome she was sent to Israel. Nazareth was her first mission where she taught English and music to teenage girls. After four years she was sent to Amman in Jordan at Saint Vincent de Paul Orphanage where she stayed for three years before proceeding to Jerusalem. There she prepared the choir to sing in Latin for the Sepulchre and Gethsemane Sanctuaries. She passed too through Cana of Galilee and Jericho, before she retired in a convent for elderly nuns in Bethlehem. Sr Pierdamiana Moran from Valletta relates that when she frequented the school of Our Lady Immaculate they were very involved in helping the poor, organizing bazaars, going around collecting items which would be sold to help the poor. Slowly, she began to realise she should dedicate herself to help the poor. So she was sent to Rome for her novitiate and after taking the vows she was sent to Egypt. After a year in Cairo where she studied Arabic she went to Luxor in Upper Egypt teaching English and taking care of an orphanage for children three years and over and to take care of teenagers and youths. She spent 12 years in Luxor, eight years of which she took care of the orphanage and the other four as Mother Superior. Another nun is Sr Giovanna Busuttil who worked for 30 years in America, Israel, Jordan and Italy. She refers to the poverty she met not only material but also spiritual – ‘lack of teaching, lack of Christ, lack of God’. The first appeal for the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Egypt was in 1924 by Fr Samuel Strobbe, a Belgian Franciscan. The owners of Franco-Belgium a refinery in Armant, Egypt wanted the nuns to open a school for the families of the workers. Two years later a dispensary and a convent were inaugurated. They ran a kindergarten and taught catechism until 1959 when the kindergarten closed down. In Kom-Ombo the owners of a big sugar refinery also asked for the help of the nuns. In 1968 a novitiate opened in Luxor as the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary were reaping local vocations. In 1974 a community in Rezagat was opened and the house in Armant was closed. The life of the whole district changed in a few weeks with the help of these devoted people. There are other houses like Cairo, Alexandria, Zamelek and others. Sr Agnese Delicata (1966-1968) worked in Egypt as a nurse in an FMM dispensary in the North of Egypt (Kom-Ombo) for two years. It was the only dispensary in Kom-Ombo. The sick were numerous since it was the only dispensary. Sr Agnese also loved and worked with the children. Before arriving in Egypt, Sr Agnese spent eight years working as a nurse in St Augustine Church Clinic, in Tunis. Sr Bernardette Zammit Lupi was born in Sliema on the 7th September 1960. In the short forty years of her life she grew to overcome herself to the extent of complete self-giving. To all who knew her, she was an example of faith and faithfulness. She died in Cairo, Egypt on the 2nd February 2001. As a Africa Chapter 2.4 ____________ FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES OF MARY (FMM) Chapter 2.5 ____________ MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY (MC)
  • 27. 29 for children. She would go herself in search of weak babies, or she would ask the nuns: ‘Please get me more babies’. She was a real mother to every child, she would sing, play with them and satisfy their needs as best she could. ShediedassuperiorofthesmallMC CommunityinMokattam, Cairo. On her last day she kept on saying: ‘Sisters, love one another in the community, and only then will you love our poor’. Sr M. Letizia Coreschi was called to serve in Egypt by the Reverend General Madre M. Carla Aletti in June 1980. Her first challenge was to learn French and Arabic. Sr Letizia left for Egypt in February 1981 jointly with Sr Nicolina, who soon became ill on arriving in Egypt and unfortunately had to return to Malta. Sr Letizia found great Missionary Sister of Charity her name was Sr Matthew MC. A decisive moment was her joining the Sixth Form at St. Aloysius College run by the Jesuits. There she developed a spirit of intolerance towards any shade of injustice, self- denial and an unbounded dedication to others. She joined other volunteers visiting depressed areas in the South of Italy working with the Missionaries of Charity. Sr Matthew left her home on the 5th January 1984. She took her first vows on 25th May 1987 in the presence of Mother Teresa herself. Africa was her destination, working in Sudan for three years and then off to Egypt working mainly in a home support from the other nuns, yet the beginning was difficult. In September 1981, together with two other Lebanese nuns, she left for Upper Egypt where the Bishop of Sohag asked them to start a new mission in Khazandaria, a poor village. There she worked as a nurse till September 2002. From this mission, this time with two other Egyptian nuns, she left for Deserto, which lay between Upper Egypt and Cairo. Here they met many families who came to the industrial city called 10 de Ramadan, to earn their living. Due to a slipped disc, in January 2007, Sr Letizia had to be taken to the Italian General Hospital in Cairo. Soon after, following the counsel of her Superiors, she was compelled to return to Malta. Chapter 2.6 ____________ SISTER OF CHARITY (SOC) Egypt
  • 28. 30 According to the tradition of the Coptic Church of Egypt, St. Mark the Evangelist would be originally from Cyrene. Some historians hold that in the year 40 A.D. Mark was back in Cyrene where he converted many Jews and Greeks. Later, around the year 60, he travelled to Alexandria where he founded several Christian communities. Unfortunately, however, the Church in Cyrene became very famous because of Arius the heretic, who came from Tolemaidis. Arius was still a deacon when in 317 A.D. he began preaching against the divinity of Christ, in Alexandria of Egypt. One of the most renowned Bishops of Cyrene in the fifth century was Sinesius of Tolemaidis. Even after fifteen centuries, the imposing ruins of the Cathedral church of Sinesius are still majestically visible. The Expansion of Islam The rapid conquests of the Arab-Muslims, between the seventh and the twelfth centuries, gradually obliterated Christianity from North Africa. The ecclesiastical history of this region under the Arab domination during these centuries is obscure and scant making it extremely difficult to delineate. Notwithstanding the turmoil of those years, the Christian religion, in one way or another, always survived in North Africa. In the beginning of the XII and XIII centuries, the Christians are no longer the natives of the country, but foreigners, primarily merchants from Pisa, Genoa and Malta. Christianity therefore became a foreign brand to which the Church sought to provide assistance through the missions. In the year 1219, while St. Francis of Assisi departed for Egypt, his followers went to Morocco (1224-25) where they were martyred. From time to time, there was also a Franciscan presence in Tunisia-Carthage. Permanent Presence It was precisely in 1628 that the Order of the Franciscans Friars Minor established a permanent presence in Libya in order to assist the Christians who were captured and enslaved by the Muslims. The church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (St. Mary of the Angels) in the Old Medina (Old City) of Tripoli was founded in 1645 with the permission of the Sultan of Constantinople. The Church of the Immaculate Conception was founded in Benghazi in 1572. The chronicles note that this church had Africa Chapter 3 ____________ LIBYA 3.1 Church Origins and Mission in Libya Mgr Sylvester Magro OFM, Bishop of Benghazi relates that the beginnings of the Church in Libya go back to the origins of Christianity itself. One recalls Simon of Cyrene who helped the Lord carry the cross during his Passion (Mk 15, 21). The Book of Acts says, that on the day of Pentecost, there were in Jerusalem some devout men from Libya from the region of Cyrene (Acts 2:10). After the persecution which broke out in Jerusalem, it was some citizens from Cyprus and Cyrene who carried the Good News of Jesus to the Greeks (Acts 11:20).
  • 29. 31 been built because of the Maltese community which was particularly numerous in those days. In 1641 the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith appointed Fr Pascal Compte OFM, as the first Prefect Apostolic of Tripoli. He was succeeded by 52 other Apostolic Prefects up until 1913. On February 3 of that year Pope St. Pius X nominated the first Bishop for this country. Fourteen years later, on February 4 1927, the church in Libya was divided into two ecclesiastical jurisdictions: Tripoli and Benghazi, while Pope Pius XI appointed Mgr Bernardino Bigi as the first Bishop of Benghazi. This was the time of the Italian colonization period which came to an end in 1943 with the British defeat of the Italo-German armies. An independent Libyan monarchy was established in 1951, but the first and only king, King Idris I, was forced to abdicate in 1969 by the September Revolution led by Muammar Ghaddafi. The Pastoral Ministry in the Apostolic Vicariate of Benghazi. The September Revolution brought great upheavals in the life of the Church. The Italian community was expelled in 1970 and the church in Libya acquired another identity: instead of the Italian it put on an Afro-Asian physiognomy. Thousands of Catholic Filipinos were recruited to work in the country, mostly in the health sector. Countless thousands of African immigrants, mostly from Nigeria, started to cross the desert and entered Libya in search of work. Benghazi. The ecclesiastical territory of the Vicariate in this region stretches from Marsa Brega in the West to the town of Tobruk in the East: a distance of nearly 800 km. Almost midway along this stretch, some 20km from the town of Beida, one comes across the monumental ruins of Cyrene [the town of Simon of Cyrene]: the Roman forum, the amphitheatre, many Roman villas and houses, streets and pathways of the city, a vast necropolis containing hundreds of tombs excavated the living rock which are still prominent. Even the majestic Temple of Zeus still stands in defiance of the centuries, built on the hilltop of Cyrene. Benghazi with its small Cathedral church remains the centre or hub of the pastoral activity of the Vicariate. Moreover, in the towns along the coastline, that is, in El Merj, Beida, Derna and Tobruk, one finds pastoral stations. Libya Afro-Asian Physiogonomy The Cathedral On March 10 1997 Libya and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations in virtue of which the Holy See appointed Fr Sylvester Magro OFM, as the Apostolic Vicar (Bishop) of In each of these towns there is a community of nuns employed as nurses in the health sector. Their chapel serves as a ‘church’, where the local community gathers regularly to celebrate the liturgy. The presence and work of the nuns is highly appreciated by the Libyans; the latter look at the nuns with admiration and deep respect because they know that the ‘sorella’ (as they call the nuns) is a person who works for God according to her consecration. By their presence in the hospitals, the nuns witness to the presence of Christ and the charity of the Church in this country.
  • 30. 32 Because of this, the nuns enjoy the trust and confidence of the people even with regards to the medicine prescribed for them, because they know that the nun is daily offering her life for their benefit. In the pastoral ministry and the liturgy, the Bishop is assisted by five priests: four of them are Franciscan Friars Minor, two from Poland, one from the Philippines and the other from Egypt. The Vicar General of the Bishop is a Salesian of Don Bosco from Poland, who also works as a parish priest to the community of nuns and faithful of Derna, which lies 300 km East of Benghazi. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the times, the Catholics in Libya love the Church and regularly attend the religious celebrations throughout the year. It is important to note that these Christians, Asians and Africans together with citizens from other countries, feel elated and reassured when, for the first time upon entering this country, they discover that the Catholic Church is present also in Libya. Africa The immediate helpers Ecumenical Meeting The Liturgy in the cathedral of Benghazi used to be celebrated in five languages: English, Italian, Arabic, Polish and Korean, and this up to 2006. After this date, the Polish and Korean communities, having finished their contract, returned home, while the Arab Christian community managed to migrate to other countries. Today the Liturgy is celebrated only in English and Italian. Apart from the pastoral ministry, the Church confirms them in their identity; consoles them in their ‘homesickness’ and loneliness. They truly bless the Lord for the presence of the Church and the assistance it gives them. In a letter to the Bishop expressing her gratitude for this presence, a Filipina wrote: ‘the Church in Libya was the thing nearest to my home’. Fr Daniel Farrugia, after being ordained at the hands of Archbishop Michael Gonzi on the 27th April 1975, started his pastoral life as vice-parish priest at Birżebbuġa, where he spent the first four years of his priesthood. After that experience, Archbishop Mercieca asked him to go as a missionary to Chapter 3.2 ____________ DIOCESAN PRIESTS
  • 31. 33 Libya Libya, where he remained for two years between 1979 and 1981. Returning to Malta, he served in several Parishes up to even administered the sacrament of baptism to a child that was born in prison. The Nuns: a very important presence ThepresenceofthenunsinLibyadatesbacktoyears.InTripoli there are about 50 nuns who belong to five congregations, including a Maltese. Their principal work is with the disabled, with the elderly and with the orphans. At the same time they help with the pastoral work. Until recently there were four Maltese nuns: Sr Amadea Ellul DSH from Żejtun and Sr Antoinette Calleja DSH from Qormi, [Daughters of the Sacred Heart (tan-Nuzzu) congregation] who served in Libya for more than 42 years, Sr Mary Pace FMM and Sr Mary Saliba FMM [Franciscan Missionaries of Mary] who both spent more than 60 years in Libya. Many Maltese have been in Libya for generations. In the old city there was a big Maltese community, so much so that the Church dedicated to Sta. Maria degli Angelli was once built with stones brought over from Malta. There are still Maltese who formed part of this old Maltese community. In recent times we had several mixed marriages between Maltese and Libyans. The Franciscan Minors from Malta (ta’ Ġieżu) had always felt the duty to help the Church in this country. When the Italian presence was diminished and other nationalities were called to work in Libya, the Maltese friars were called to give a helping hand as they could speak English and Italian. Fr Gabriel Micallef OFM and Bishop Sylvester Magro OFM were among many other friars who gave their service in Tripoli and Benghazi. The Maltese community celebrates every year the feast of the Shipwreck of St. Paul in the Church of St. Francis in Tripoli as a sign of the union between the Church in Malta and the one in Libya. Fr. Daniel Farrugia 1977, when he was again asked to go to Libya, where he has now been for fourteen years. His Work in Libya As Vicar General his first duty was to assist Mgr Giovanni Martinelli, Bishop of Tripoli. At the same time, he has served as parish priest for the English Speaking Community and the African Community. He has never failed to assist the French and Italian communities. He has dedicated himself to the Maltese community, mainly to nationals working in Libya or married to Libyans. From time to time he celebrates for them the Holy Mass in Maltese. He was also responsible for the activity of Caritas with the immigrants. Some years back, thousands of illegal immigrants from Eritrea were detained by the Libyan authorities. Fr Daniel used to visit their camp and assist them in their spiritual and material needs. Once he Chapter 3.3 ____________ THE FRANCISCAN FRIARS MINOR (OFM)
  • 32. 34 Muslim staff was well prepared to substitute the nuns when these had to retire for their daily prayers or for a few days when they had their retreat. The authorities were continually asking for more Maltese nuns. Apart from taking care of the orphanage, the nuns visited elderly people, very often abandoned by their families in their homes. They also organized prayers for the Christians that lived in their area and gave catechism classes to children of the Italian colony. In September 1924 a foundation was offered to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary ‘to commemorate the seventh centenary of the stigmata of St Francis’. A former barracks given by the Italian government served as a temporary convent and home for the works. The first nuns were settled in by the end of 1925, and others came from Tunisia to begin works for Italian children: a crèche, an orphanage, an infant school and a workroom. A dispensary opened in 1928 for the Libyans and this gave more opportunities for contacts. The nuns learned the language, visited the sick, the families, and Bedouin encampments. A whole network of relationships was formed and endured. In 1968 the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary were asked to take care of the lepers at Bir Lista Milad (currently Jedeida) but there was no convent. The nuns used to go from Tripoli, about 20kms away, to work in the Leprosarium. Then three small apartments were rented on the nearby hill of El Gidaida and were transformed into a fraternity. In 1969 during the revolution of Colonel Ghaddafi the English and Americans were expelled but the nuns decided to remain as social workers. They were in charge of opening formation Africa In this Muslim context the Christian message has a stronger meaning and a wider dimension. Together with the other churches present in Libya, the Greek Orthodox, the Coptic, the Anglican and the Protestant, the Franciscans organise meetings to establish relationships of dialogue and respect with our Muslims friends. We can say that the Church in Libya has three characteristics: that of ‘presence’, that of ‘dialogue’ and that of ‘service’, a Church which is a ‘sacrament and sign’ which demands of us humility and love. Orphanage in a Muslim Country It was the 9th August of 1968 that Mother General Gwakkina Muscat and Mother Vicar Benjamina Polidano accompanied Archbishop Gonzi to Libya to see an orphanage that the Libyan Minister of Labour had offered to the Maltese Nuns. The nuns were satisfied, and in November of the same year Sr Ermelina Mifsud and Sr Djonisia Borg embarked on this mission: opening and administering an orphanage in a Muslim country. Unfortunately, the Libyan authorities did not prepare a home for the nuns to stay. However, they were determined to succeed and found refuge with the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary, commonly known in Maltese as ‘Tal-Eġittu’. After three weeks they were offered a provisional home in Sciara Benashur. In December they were joined by three other nuns, Sr Georgia Cutajar, Sr Generoza Parnis and Sr Marcellina Attard. Within a few months they had moved to a stable place in Dar el Hadana, meaning orphanage, situated in Sciara Buharida in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. They cared with evangelical zeal for 170 orphans. As time passed, the nuns were greatly respected by the Muslim locals and the authorities. The Chapter 3.4 ____________ DAUGHTERS OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS (DSH) Chapter 3.5 ____________ FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES OF MARY (FMM)
  • 33. 35 Centres. In 1973 they were urgently requested to go to Suani to work in the government hospital for mentally disabled children. Besides these different activities in the Libyan world, several nuns have taken up pastoral and catechetical work among Christians, mostly foreigners, who have a work hospital, they were placed in beds side by side, separated by a screen. It was there that Sr Bruna heard a nurse say that Sr Emmanuela had died. Sr Bruna keeps two photos in front of her: one of her mother who has given her life in a family which was to become numerous and another of Sr Emmanuela, who has given her life to save hers and who belonged to a family of all languages and nationalities, spread throughout the whole world, the FMM family. Two mysteries of love, which God places in the hearts of those who listen to his voice: Sr Emmanuela gave her life in a heroic act of sisterly love, a love particularly cultivated during her FMM life and lived with enthusiasm and generosity. A heroic and spontaneous love, she shed her blood, this blood which Sr Bruna saw flowing: ‘How can I not think of her when I hear the words of Consecration: It will be shed for you and for all ..? It is the mystery of love, which Christ renews each day, and which He makes live again in our lives’. Sr Emmanuela was a very simple, friendly, timid and generous nun. She loved community life, sharing a simple relationship with her nuns and the people she met. She had worked a great deal in the domain of feminine formation, teaching sewing to young girls and women. Her last years were spent in the house which received adolescents abandoned from birth. She loved them very much and helped them not only through work but also by her attention full of affection and care for their future. Seeing retirement age approaching, she had the great desire for another nun to take her place with the young people. At that time the Congregation needed a ‘house mistress’ for the fraternity. She was ready for this service with just one regret: to have to leave ‘her’ daughters. Sr Emmanuela had a large family in Gozo. She joyfully counted her great-nephews and great-nieces at each birth - they were more than a hundred! She was full of the joy of life. When her nephew Philippe became a priest in 1988, it was for her the climax! What joy and what thanksgiving! She had to Libya contract in the great work yard that is present-day Libya. The single Church which has been reopened for their worship brings to life the basic ecumenism of the universal Church. Today only about 10 nuns are working in Libya. Sr Emmanuela Vassallo Sr Emmanuela was killed on the 5th July 1989. Sr Bruna Menghini wrote about Sr Emmanuela: ‘She was my sister…!’ Sr Bruna Menghini was carrying out regular service in the feminine section of a prison in Tripoli, Libya. On 5th July 1989, she needed help for a meticulous job and Sr Emmanuela Vassallo accompanied her. Sr Bruna was attacked by a prisoner and Sr Emmanuela intervened: she received a fatal blow and Sr Bruna was seriously wounded. Quickly transferred to a
  • 34. 36 Africa convey it. She knew also how to communicate the faith. In the parish of Tripoli, she was involved in the preparation of the children for their First Holy Communion, a work which she accomplished with much devotion and interest in each one. Sr Bruna recalls that one day she came back to the house deeply distressed: it happened that one of ‘her’ children nearly drowned in the sea; the child’s father jumped into the water and pulled the child out, but he, the father ­remained there! How many times did she not recall this heroic gesture! Was it a presentiment? Sr Mary Pace arrived in Libya, Tripoli in 1948 and immediately started working with abandoned children. In this house Sr Mary worked for 20 years. In 1968 when the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary started working with the lepers at Bu Jedeida, Sr Mary was transferred to work with the village people, teaching them sewing. In 1973 Sr Mary spent two years in Swani where the FMM started working in a hospital for disabled children. Sr Mary was the Mistress of the house and kept up a relationship with the neighbourhood, teaching knitting and English. Sr Mary loved life in all its ways. She was available at all times for welcoming all those who came, and had a special respect for priests and a great love for the country. Sr Catherina Abela was a simple and loving person, busy, respectful, self-forgetful, and a woman of prayer. She preferred to give in than to get involved in an argument. She will be remembered for her loyalty towards authority, her humble spirit and her desire always to do God’s will. Sr Catherina spent over 30 years in Libya where she learnt Arabic and spoke it fluently. She was employed by the Ministry of Social Affairs in Tripoli where she taught crafts, both in prison and in workrooms, like cane work, cushion making, embroidery and knitting. She had been sent to Florence to learn the art of machine knitting in order to teach knitting to women. This kept her on a very busy schedule especially when the finished work was exhibited, and when the women organized little parties to celebrate their accomplishments. Sr Maria Saliba was sent to Libya in January 1948 and she ended her mission in 2001. First she was posted to Azazia, a small poor village where the population lived in huts. She visited the locals to see to their health and on other days she used to go to teach them sewing. After 5 years she was transferred to Tripoli where she learnt how to make carpets and then taught the method to poor young girls in order to help them earn their living. She used to teach them sewing and then visited their homes. In 1969, the year of the revolution, the Nuns` Schools and all private works were taken over but 12 nuns were employed by the government. They were asked to run Centres to care for young girls who abandoned school. Sr Maria used to teach sewing and knitting to young unmarried mothers, between 14 and 18 years old. Sr Maria served for 17 years. For the last 3 years she was called to Tripoli where the Catholic Church was receiving immigrants and trying to find work for them. SrEmanuelaGattwasinchargeofthecrècheinTripoli,helping in the linen room of the orphans and generously doing various works in the house. Sr Rose Casapinta dedicated herself to the lepers. It was hard but the lepers loved her and appreciated her work. Back in Malta, she worked at St Luke’s Hospital as a nurse and tutor. Now that she is retired, she is looking after the elderly nuns in Balzan. Sr Giuseppina Casapinta in 1948 worked in the Leprosarium as an occupational therapist for Lepers. Sr Mary Zarb. After spending six years in Rome and another in Padova, Sr Mary Zarb, who hails from Żabbar, moved to Libya, where she remained for twelve years. She used to take care of the house, but her special care were the lepers, assisted also by another six nuns. In her sixth year there the revolution took place and the Libyan nurses who were prepared by the nuns became the administrators of the hospital. In the confusion that followed not everybody was ready for this new situation. A director of a hospital which catered for disabled
  • 35. 37 Marocco children called the nuns to help him in his hospital. It had 700 children and Sr Mary was appointed nutritionist. After helping for six years, she moved to Algiers where she has been serving since February 1982. In Algiers after receiving professional training, she taught children who were mentally disabled. She worked for eleven years in this institution until four foreigners were killed and the superiors and the bishop decided that they should leave the place because it became extremely dangerous. In fact some time after, Bishop P. Claverie was murdered. She was sent to study Theology for one year when she returned to Algiers. Today she works in a parish teaching crafts to the people, visiting the elderly in their houses, helping the poor and receiving those who need to open their heart discussing their family problem.They have a priest nearby who celebrates Mass regularly. Sr Mary considers that they are lucky in this as some nuns live in areas where the nearest priest lives four hundred kilometres away. Sr Tereza Margherita Buhagiar and three others were asked to go to Libya in 1965 to work in a Government Hospital. They were deeply loved by the patients. After the Revolution, the nuns were thrown out, and yet when the son of Gaddafi was sick, he made it a point that he would be attended only by the Sisters of Charity. The Church in Morocco, foreign and small in number, is the land of the first Franciscan martyrs. The sons of Francis had chosen to live there without arguments or disputes, subject to every human creature for God’s sake, acknowledging that they were Christians. During the difficult days just before Independence, Bishop Lefèvre, O.F.M. of Rabat, courageously took the side of justice and freedom, respect for others and trust – and the Moroccans were deeply grateful to him. This fraternal witness continues in Islamic countries practising esteem and friendship. In the first 20 years of the twentieth century, seven foundations were entrusted to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Morocco: Casablanca in 1912, Meknes in 1913, Rabat in 1914, Fez in 1915, and Oujda in 1916. Then in 1977 the nuns turned up in Marrakesh. Later they opened still another house in Mazagan. Sr Maria Delicata who had already worked for two years in the North of Egypt in Kom-Ombo 1979-2000, left Rome where she had been serving, for Morocco. There she spent ten years working in the formation of young girls. Then she moved to Rabat in the Retreat House and worked with abandoned children. Later she returned to Europe for health reasons. Chapter 4.1 ____________ FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES OF MARY (FMM) Chapter 4 ____________ MAROCCO
  • 36. 38 Africa Chapter 5 ____________ TUNISIA 5.1 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary went to Carthage, Tunisia, at the invitation of Cardinal Lavigerie in 1885. Besides taking care of the house of St Monica in Carthage, the nuns served in the ‘Hospital of the Liberation’ between 1944-1956, when it was taken over by the Independent State of Tunisia. In 1958 the Nunswere asked to take over ‘St Augustine’s Clinic’ which belonged to the Catholic Church and which was served by the Sisters of Niederbronn. The FMM worked there for a quarter of a century. The Clinic served both Europeans and Tunisians. Other houses were opened in Tunisia. In each community they were in contact with the Arab world. The nuns built good relationships with their neighbours and visited the poor and the needy. The nuns look for work contracts according to their aptitudes and personal formation, especially in jobs less appreciated by other candidates health services are limited. A Community was opened in Gafsa, in the South of Tunisia responding to an appeal from the Governor himself to open a kindergarten. The project of the community in the House in Kasserine, founded in 1970, consisted in living with the people and like the people, enjoying the same living and working conditions, in Christ’s name. They had various kinds of social service, according to the needs and the possibilities. Sr Concetta Dimech was sent to Tunisia in 1978. While learning French, she helped in St Augustine’s Clinic which belonged to the Church under the responsibility of the FMM. This clinic was very well known in North Africa and patients came from as far away as Libya and Algeria. In the clinic, Sr Concetta met with patients of different nationalities besides Tunisians. After a year in Algeria, Sr Concetta worked at the Provincial House, welcoming the nuns coming from Libya, Algeria or North and South Tunisia, as well as people coming from Algeria and Tunis to be admitted to the Clinic. In 1992 Bishop Fuad Twal asked Sr Concetta to help in the Curia as matron. Besides the Offices, the Curia had an extension house where they received guests. She had to look after the upkeep of this house and see that everything ran smoothly. All kinds of meetings took place in this house. All year round, they also received groups of priests. They welcomed groups of volunteers, from the Mission Fund and others, who came to help the diocese during summer. But Sr Concetta also found time to visit and help many local poor people. In her visits to the poor she experienced much misery. Women like to speak about the needs of their children. Many tourists visit the Cathedral, which is close to the Curia. She met Maltese tourists and always tried to help them. Many Maltese live in Tunisia, and thanks to the MalteseAmbassador the Maltese community meets on two or three occasions every year. Our mission here is quite a hidden one, but in reality it is great. People knock at our door asking for help, both on material and moral issues. They have such a trust in us. Do pray for us to continue our mission in the best way possible, Sr Concetta says. Sr Vinnie Catania left for Tunisia in 1980, and made her Final Profession there in 1982. She then started working in a Professional School for Female Formation, teaching knitting and crochet, and at the same time learning the Tunisian dialect with the girls. Afterwards she taught English in the Inter College for the Baccalaureate. After some years, Sr Catania became the Secretary General of the Church’s 21 Schools, including schools from Kindergarten to Secondary for girls and Professional Schools for boys and girls. Sr Victoria Vella’s first experience in Tunisia was that of
  • 37. 39 Tunisia serving as a nurse in the clinic ‘St. Augustine’ which belonged to the Church. At first it was not easy for her because of the French language. Although she had learnt it at school, she never spoke it. Nevertheless, she gave herself totally to the service of the sick that she loved so much. After some years she was sent to Senegal.
  • 38. 40 6.1 Missionary Society of St. Paul (MSSP) Brother Joseph Caruana was the first missionary from the Missionary Society of St. Paul to go to the missions, and this when Mgr Depiro was still living, was Brother Joseph Caruana. He went to Ethiopia where he lived for forty years without ever returning to Malta. Whoever happens to meet ecclesiastics in that country will be amazed by the respect he still commands. He is considered as a pioneer in the work of the Catholic Church in this predominantly Muslim country. The bishop of Addis Ababa proudly shows his private chapel which was built by Brother Joseph. A small Maltese Cross above the altar the Bishop considers to be a proof of what he maintains. At that time, Brother Joseph who was alone in the diocese, lived with the Archbishop, who later became a Cardinal. The above-mentioned chapel is dedicated to the Assumption, which feast the Bishop points out is a great feast of Our Lady. They fast for fifteen days, from the first of August up to the vigil of the feast. Brother Joseph is remembered in a joyful and exuberant manner. The ecclesiastics refer to Malta as ‘the land of the missionary Brother Giuseppe Caruana of the MSSP!’ He is especially remembered because he educated many people, including one who became a Professor at the University, who till his death, made it a point to say that he was brought up by Brother Joseph. ‘Malta is small place’, writes Abba Gabriel Maria Amante, an elderly priest, ‘but it is a big country Part Two EAST AFRICA Chapter 6 ____________ ETHIOPIA
  • 39. 41 Ethiopia because it has a big heart like that of St Paul. We consider Brother Joseph as a father, as our father. He was an able administrator, he administered the Cathedral. He was a very honest and able person, and also took care of the people, assisted the priests, and took care of everybody. When he died, we all felt we lost a father, because he was a very, very good man. He was very jovial, a joyful person. He was a man of prayer too’. Abba is the title attributed to priests. But so great was the respect for Brother Joseph that they used to refer to him as ‘Abba Joseph’. They are very proud that Abba Joseph lived, died and was buried in Ethiopia, in a nearby cemetery. It was the wish of Brother Joseph, who always insisted that he wanted to be buried in Ethiopia. who can still be found in the south western highlands, make up 2.6% of the population while 0.7% fall under other religions. Most of the Jews who lived around Gonder have left. The most famous river in Ethiopia is the Blue Nile which runs a distance of 1,450 km from its source in Lake Tana, to join the White Nile at Khartoum, capital of Sudan. The first appeal for the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary to serve in Ethiopia came from the Duke of Aosta, the Italian Viceroy, who desired 23 nurses for the military hospitals of Addis Ababa in 1938. They arrived in three groups and they were warmly welcomed, and set to work quickly, not only in the medical services but also in formation, in friendly and spiritual support. Sr Victoria Vassallo with three other FMM nuns joined their colleagues in Ethiopia. They arrived in Mazoria which forms part of the diocese of Hosanna Region, Hadiya Zone. Mazoria lies 400kms from the capital. Their principal aim was that of carrying out Pastoral and Social work, aiming at serving the poor especially children and young people. Their project included Kindergarten, Literacy and Non Formal Education, Income Generating Programme and a Credit and Saving Scheme. Their desire was to empower the women to develop their potential to the maximum, by being active and responsible so as to be instrumental in the building of their local communities. Sr Victoria and her colleagues ran a kindergarten in two different places with 190 small children. They had 244 students between 6 and 8 years old in Literacy classes in four different places. These opened only in summer for three months. They were meant for children who did not have the opportunity to pass through the Kindergartens, to prepare them for the Primary School. They also provided non-formal Education for young adults aged 12 to 16 who had never been to school. They took charge of 215 students in 3 different places preparing them to catch up in 3rd or 4th grade at the Primary School. These kinds of classes are recommended by the government. Ethiopia has an ancient and complex history. It is the 3rd most densely populated African country with a population of over sixty million people, of which 84% live in the rural areas and 16% live in the urban areas. 50% of the population are under 20 or 22 years old. The Orthodox Church has the largest number of Christians in Ethiopia (approx. 43.5%) and has retained its dominance over the centuries. 18.6% are Protestants and 0.7% are Catholics divided into two groups – the Coptic rite and the Roman rite group. 33.9% are Moslems, a number that is steadily increasing. Many mosques line the country and Harar is the centre of Islam with more than 90 mosques. Animists, Chapter 6.2 ____________ FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES OF MARY (FMM)
  • 40. 42 Africa In Income generating programme and Credit and Saving Scheme 42 women participated. The courses consisted in different kind of workshops on community awareness, and topics of family life open to parents of the students. Sr Evelyn Delicata after serving for three years in Kenya was sent to Ethiopia to work among the ethnic group called “Sidamo” in the south of the country. The village of Bushalo where she lived is located at 7 km from the town of Awassa in a rural setting close to the lake shore. Awassa, which is the centre of the Sidamo province, is 295kms away from the capital and is situated at an altitude of 1700 metres. It has a population of over 100,000 people. However, despite the rapid increase in population, there has been no parallel increase in the health facilities at public level. The life of the rural Sidamo community remains unchanged despite developments that have taken place in urban areas. The low living standards give rise to dysentery, TB, AIDS, and Malaria. Some of the main problems of the Sidamo people are lack of clean water, low income, poor communication, the inability to understand the causes of diseases and constant food insecurity. Illiteracy is widespread, especially among the Sidamo girls, who from an early age are given many duties in the home. The Bushalo Health Centre, run by the Catholic Mission and administered by the FMM, is a private health institution which works in close collaboration with the local zonal and regional health authorities. It serves not only the Sidamo community, but also people coming from the neighbouring villages, some of them having to walk for many miles before reaching the Hospital in Bushalo. Its principal activities are oriented to preventive and curative services in order to create a better and healthier community, with an integrated Public Health Programme of five years which has been accepted and officially approved by the Regional and National Authorities. A teacher by profession, Sr Evelyn taught English and Social Ethics to the students of Grade 10 and Preparatory I & II at the Comboni Senior Secondary School at Awassa. She was also responsible for the financial administration of Bushalo Health Centre. As a member of the Pastoral Council of the Awassa Vicariate, she has had the joyful opportunity to take part in the planning of the Synod of the Catholic Church of Awassa, which took place in May 2004. She participated as one of the two official secretaries. On Sundays, when possible, Sr Evelyn joins one of the priests of Tullo Parish to visit the Catholics of various mission outstations, helping the priest as a Minister of the Eucharist. She learnt so much from the poor people among whom she has lived, and whose life is simple and uncomplicated and undemanding. The Sidamo people are happy people fully satisfied with the little they have; their life, though hard and very challenging, is peaceful and serene. The first Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus arrived in the mission land of Ethiopia in 1927. It was the Maltese Capuchin Father Angelo Mizzi helped the Franciscan Sisters to make the first step leading to their entry into Ethiopia. The nuns were very eager to spread God’s kingdom on earth. They tried hard to establish the Congregation in the missionary places in the Universal church. On the 6th November 1927, five Franciscan Sisters landed in the small town of Sofi to give a start to their evangelical service. The first pioneer nuns were: Sr Rosa Agius, the Local Superior, Sr Aurelia Frendo, Sr Redenta Xerri, Sr Virginia Xuereb and Sr Massimiliana Micallef. They opened an orphanage, a school and began teaching catechism. No doubt the beginning was hard. Their first Convent was at Sofi, from where they spread to several places in Ethiopia: Borsum, Harar, Dire Daua, Addis Ababa. Some of these Convents were Chapter 6.3 ____________ THE FRANCISCAN SISTERS OF THE HEART OF JESUS (FCJ)
  • 41. 43 Ethiopia closed down because of the war. On the 28th December 1928 a group of four other nuns started the mission in Jijiga. They were: Sr Mansueta Camilleri, Sr Alfonsina Xuereb, Sr Coronata Muscat and Sr Anna Debrincat. In December 1930, another group of nuns started their mission service in Dire Dawa. They were: Sr Gabriella Grima, Sr Alexandra Grech, Sr Celeste Mejlak, Sr Giacomina Ciantar and Sr Alberta Buhagiar. In 1931 other nuns arrived: Sr Innocenza Mizzi, Sr Delfina Gauci, Sr Saveria Piscopo and Sr Ersilia Cauchi. In1935theItalo-Ethiopianwarbrokeout,andasaconsequence all the nuns as well as all those who worked with them in the missions carried the brunt of the war very bravely and with lot of courage. In March 1944 the nuns were advised to leave Sofi and Jijiga and retire to the Convent of Harar. To make matters worse, in 1929 a typhoid epidemic claimed the lives of the young nuns Sr Rosa Agius and Sr Anna De Brincat whose remains were buried in the cemetery of Harar, and in 1931 Sr Celeste Mejlak who worked in Dire Daua. In Harar the nuns opened from the beginning a school and an orphanage for boys and girls. Today the presence of the nuns in the religious and educational field and their help towards the poor is outstanding. In the educational field, Bethlehem School in Harar with 800 students, the Kidane Meheret School in Addis Ababa with 1100 students and the Guardian Angel School in Debre Zeit with more than 850 students are proof of this. The schools are instructive and encompass from the infant level up to the superior level, with qualified lay staff, offering the students sport, cultural and artistic activities. With regard to their help towards the poor, this reaches every single family, but is seen particularly in the orphanage Kidane Mehret, in Addis Ababa. Sr Josepha Tassemma was an Ethiopian nun who was taking care of the orphanage which included about 150 boys and girls up to the age of sixteen. When she died, Cardinal Paulus Tsadua, asked the Franciscan nuns not to abandon this orphanage and to continue to give orphans assistance and education. The house was in a miserable state so the nuns built a large house for the children with the help of their Congregation and of some benefactors. After the war more nuns were sent to Ethiopia and they were: Sr Colombina Bonnici, Sr Giorgina Vassallo, Sr Fulgentia Vella, Sr Carmelina Falzon, Sr Salomea Camilleri, Sr Daria Farrugia, Sr Diletta Farrugia, Sr Gioele Lia, Sr Gemma Suban, Sr Fidelia Cardona, Sr Evalda Agius, Sr Fausta Grima, Sr Oliva Spiteri, Sr Aurea Muscat, Sr Michelina Micallef, Sr Camilla Zammit, Sr Lutgarda Camilleri, Sr Josephine Schiavone, Sr Letizia Borg, Sr Alexandra Chircop, Sr Maddalena Bonello, Sr Gemma Fenech, Sr Celina Cini, and Sr Josepha Gauci. Today the nuns working in Ethiopia are: Sr Lutgarda Camilleri (Delegate Superior), Sr Letizia Borg (Principal) of Kidane Meheret High School in Addis Ababa, and Sr Camilla Zammit who directs the orphanage of more than 200 children boys and girls from 0 to 18 years of age. Working with them are many Sister Ludgarda Camilleri Ethiopian nuns. Sr Maddalena Bonello says of her experience in Ethiopia and Kenya: “I left my heart in Africa…..Yes, I really did! After spending six years in Ethiopia and twelve years in Kenya, I still feel African at heart!” Africa, the vast continent, which God has blessed with such natural beauty, captivates the heart of those who visit. Once
  • 42. 44 Africa a person has been there, he wants to return! That is the secret charm played on most of those Sr Maddalena has met. Sometimes, as she looks back at her past life, she wonders at how the Lord has been working in her. She feels that God had planted the missionary seed in her soul even before she became aware of her Religious Vocation. When as a child she used to go and spend some of the summer holidays with her aunts at St Paul’s Bay in Malta, she would gather the children on their street to tell them stories, organise games and pray together with them, five decades of the Rosary, at the end of which, she always made sure to reward them with sweets which she bought from the little pocket money she received. During her years in secondary school, she formed part of the ‘mission circle’ and together with Mary Camilleri, now Sr Lutgarda who is in still in Ethiopia, they held meetings for the rest of the school, under the guidance of Miss Lucia, the teacher in charge. Since Sr Maddalena lived in Valletta, she liked to visit the Missions Office in Merchants Street, looking for booklets and pamphlets about the missions. A story which greatly impressed her was about a young catechist in Mexico, called Maria de la Luz Camaco, who was martyred at the door of the church where she was teaching Catechism. She recounts how she was very touched by the slides depicting a little girl called ‘Fior di Loto’. She looked forward to each issue of the ‘Malta Missjunarja’ and the ‘Mission Word’, as well as the periodical published by the ‘Divine Word Missionaries’. It was her joy to listen to the experiences of Missionaries who visited her school. Once, after listening to a missionary priest coming from India, she prayed: “Jesus I would like to help, but I do not have any money to give. Therefore I offer you myself”. Later on when she became more certain of her religious vocation and was struggling to get permission from her parents to join religious life, her mother asked her to promise that she would not ask to be sent to the missions. Sr Maddalena promised this and concentrated on her religious calling. As a young Franciscan Sister of the Heart of Jesus, she worked in Malta and then in Gozo for seventeen years. As promised, she never asked to be sent to the missions. Yet, each time she happened to be a delegate at the Congregational Assemblies or the General Chapters, and heard the reports of the work carried out by the nuns in Africa, Asia and South America, she always said to the Lord: “Our missionary nun need help. If you want me Jesus, I am ready to go where you send me”! Then one day in 1988, while working as a formator at the Mother House in Gozo, she went to the office of her Superior General to show her a vocational bookmark she was planning to send for printing. After telling her what she had to say, the Superior General told her that the General Council was planning to send her to Ethiopia. Sr Maddalena could not believe her ears. “If the Lord wants me to go, I am not going to say ‘no’” she replied to the Superior. She could not hide her joy at that moment. After this episode, she remained a bit shaken since she was already 42 years old. Yet she was happy and started to prepare herself to face the unknown. She arrived in Ethiopia on 4th November 1988. She had read so much about the missions, yet she soon found out that reality was a very different story. She realized that a person has to be living in the place in order to really understand the difficulties and the suffering the people pass through. It broke her heart to see beautiful hotels and buildings, with well to do people living alongside others in plastic and cardboard shacks just on their doorstep. At that time people were flocking to the city, spending the little that they had on the journey from their village, looking for work, and discovering the shocking reality, that there was nothing to be found. Having no work, no shelter, no food, no money, they could not return to their village and so they just resigned themselves to live on the pavements and the traffic islands of the city, covering themselves with whatever they could find, hoping that someone would help them. How many babies were abandoned on the streets or left on the doorstep of the
  • 43. 45 Ethiopia orphanage next door, to be taken care of by the old nun, who had too many children to be able to cope with.The nuns’school catered for over a thousand children of all ages, coming from different environments and backgrounds. She spent six years in Addis Ababa, at the ‘Immaculate Conception Formation House’, next to ‘Kidane Mehret School’. For about an hour in the morning, she helped in the school tuck shop, and then spent the rest of the day guiding and instructing novices and postulants on topics of spirituality and consecrated life. In 1994 the Superiors decided to transfer the formation programme to Kenya, since there were more opportunities for religious courses for those in formation. Therefore on 1st October of the same year, Sr Maddalena arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, accompanied by two new Ethiopian novices. There she found four Kenyan aspirants, ready to start their Postulancy. In this way on 4th October, 1994, feast of her Order’s father, St Francis, the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus Formation House’ had its beginning in Lavington, Nairobi, Kenya. Since the convent was situated just outside the slum area of Kawangware, called ‘Gatina’, they started their apostolic work first by giving a helping hand in the church of the outstation. This was just a large hut made of wood and corrugated iron sheets. The Mass was celebrated there on Sunday, while during the week it was changed into a classroom where the poor children of the slums, who could not afford to go to school, were given basic education. The sister superior of their community had already been visiting and taking the Eucharist to some of the sick and elderly people of the slums. She now handed over this work to Sr Maddalena’s group, while she chose to concentrate more on the children’s centre. Sr Maddalena started visiting the sick and elderly every Saturday, accompanied by two of the novices and postulants. They did a celebration in each hut, singing and praying with the people they found there, reading the Sunday Gospel and giving a little explanation of it.After distributing the Eucharist, they said a prayer of thanksgiving and sang again. Sr recounts how beautiful it was to see the wrinkled faces of those poor and simple people become radiant with the joy of receiving Jesus. They lived in empty mud huts with soil floors, filled with puddles in the rainy season, with no sanitary facilities, and yet so happy and grateful for anything they were able to do for them! Once, an old blind lady, lying on a divan, disturbed with so many fleas, after thanking them for giving her some powder to help her get rid of the fleas, exclaimed: “Now I know how much God loves me!” This was the best certificate for the nuns that their apostolate was reaching its aim. After some time, the people to visit became so many and so far apart that they could not manage to visit them all. So they organised themselves into three or four groups and programmed the visits according to the area the groups lived in. Sr Maddalena spent twelve years in Kenya, working with the novices and postulants. In 2006, after the General Chapter, she was called to the Generalate in Rome to serve in the General Council. This was a big shock for her. She missed her African friends, yet it gave her an opportunity of getting in touch with other mission countries. Twice she had the opportunity to visit the communities in Pakistan and also in the Philippines, even staying in the latter for eight weeks. “I do not know what the Lord has in store for me in the future. Yet, whatever it may be, I am sure that it will be the very best, since I truly believe in how much he loves me and how much he loves each individual person for whom he continues to give up his life, and remains day and night with us in the Eucharist, offering us refuge in his human and divine Heart”.
  • 44. 46 Africa Sr Carmen Sammut, after serving for two decades in India and fourteen years in Romania, was sent to Ethiopia which was to be a new foundation for her Congregation. Although St Emilie de Vialar had opened her first missions on African soil (in Algeria and Tunisia) the Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition had always been in Islamic countries of the north and west of Africa, never in the east. At the invitation of the Archbishop ofAddisAbaba,Abune Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, Sr Carmen and an Indian nun, arrived in January 2008 in Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union. They were welcomed by the Comboni Sisters. The first thing was to study the very difficult national language Amharic, which uses the Geez script, and obtain a work permit. Since both were teachers, they were welcomed in one of the schools of the Archdiocese, Lideta Catholic Cathedral School. After a month or so, they moved to a rented house. In August 2008, they were joined by a third member from India. From September 2008 they started working in the school and from 2009 they were given the Academic Direction of Grades 1 – 8. This is a very big school of over 2600 pupils from grades 1 – 12. Most of the students are boys but from Grade 7 – 12 girls can join too. This remains the main mission of the Community here for the moment. One of the nuns teaches catechism to the First Holy Communion Group of the International Community at Holy Saviour Church. In August 2010 they moved to their own residence in the Lideta Area of the city. At present, they also have a few candidates from Ethiopia and Ghana with them. These are being prepared to join the novitiate later on in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia they had to adapt to the Julian calendar and to the time difference. According to the Julian calendar, whilst Sr Carmen was writing this contribution on 15th March 2012, the date in Ethiopia was Megabit 7, 2004 E.C. When the watch shows 1.00 pm it is 7.00 o’clock during the day. Sr Carmen has visited some areas of the south. The rural areas of Ethiopia are still under- developed. The roads are primitive. Chapter 6.4 ____________ SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH OF THE APPARITION (SJA) Sr Carmen Sammut Sr Carmen Sammut
  • 45. 47 Ethiopia Accidents,especiallyintherainyseason,arefrequent.Ethiopia is famous for the Arabica coffee bean that originated and grows in the Jimma Bonga area. Addis Ababa’s infrastructure has improved lately. Many roads are being widened or newly made to join the city with the outskirts. However, this city has undergone dramatic changes. It is the meeting place of all fleeing poverty, only to find it worse in the big city. Street children, lepers and beggars, together with young mothers with babies still line the streets. As rent in Addis is very high, many have to make do with a small corrugated sheeting box for a house or worse still with a ragged blanket under the bare sky. Although the climate in Addis is not severe, nights at 9o C temperatures can be quite cold. Like Indians and Romanians, Ethiopians are well-known for their hospitality. They are also a very beautiful people and Sr Carmen feels good to be here. Sr Carmen has completed 40 years as a religious, 38 of them with the missions. Variety is the spice of life and since I have had some important changes, the Lord has invited me to open the ‘space of my tent’ to receive different people in my heart. I have enjoyed different food, cultures and music (music takes the longest to get used to in my opinion!). There have been ups and downs, ill health, difficulties of all sorts but like St. Paul I would like to say: ‘For me to live is Christ and to die is gain’. I do not regret to have followed this kind of life, which is unpopular and unattractive to youth at present, but which has given me, fullness of life, many joys and peace of mind! Sr Carmen writes. “We have a very good impression of the Maltese people through Fr George Grima. He has funded several homes in our vicariate through the generosity of the Maltese. The children now have schools and we are very grateful to Malta. We also know the Living Waters Group which is made up of youths who for these last ten years have come here to lend a hand. They opened a kindergarten for marginalized children. They also built a number of houses in another area and now they are planning some work in the Bonga area. I visited Malta through the help of Fr George and found the people very hospitable and understanding. During my most recent visit I was also introduced to the President of Malta. He is the only president I have ever met in my life outside Ethiopia.” Chapter 6.5 ____________ TESTIMONY OF BISHOP MARKOS GEBREMEDHIN C.M
  • 46. 48 to help Ethiopian youngsters maximise their potential through education and discipline. Monica Tonna Barthet, who is 75, receives some 23 boys who were abandoned in the streets of Addis Ababa. After concluding a successful career with the United Nations, she volunteered to join the Mother Theresa Missionaries of Charity of Ethiopia with whom she worked for a number of years till she decided to use her life savings to give to a group of boys a better childhood by opening her own children’s home. It was not easy for Monica to overcome the very rigid bureaucracy of the Ethiopian Government and buy the land, build and furnish the home, and to obtain the required license to be able to receive some 20 boys and give them shelter and education. The boys under Monica’s care live like a big family. She employs a few people to guide the boys in their education. Most suffered from chronic diseases but thanks to Monica’s efforts their condition is controlled. The boys attend school in the morning and she uses the informal education to train them in cane skills, agriculture, cooking and music. She believes in learning for life and strongly believes that through education they become autonomous and will be able to help other children. Africa Claudine Micallef, a medical student, spent two years in Ethiopia between 2003 and 2005. At that time she was a medical student and was sent through the Voluntary Missionary Movement (VLM). She worked at the St. Luke´s Catholic Hospital in Waleso in the region of Oromea. She meant to help as a physiotherapist but she ended up assisting the doctors who take care of hundreds of patients from early in the morning. The hospital with 144 beds was the only hospital in a region where more than one million inhabitants live. The pressure on the doctors trying to deal with malnutrition and tropical infections was enormous. The people are very poor and come from great distances. They prefer witch doctors who are more accessible. Claudine, as the first and only physiotherapist around, succeeded in opening a small clinic to lend a hand. During the summer of 2010, Claudine, together with a colleague of hers Daniela Magri, were sent to Nyabondo Rehabilitation Centre, run by the Franciscans Sisters of Sant Anna. The contact was made through the ‘Moviment Ġesù fil- Proxxmu’. The Centre was very far and isolated. It receives about 70 physically and mentally disabled patients. Daniela adapted herself quickly to the group. They came to know the African Flying Doctors (AMREF) who were able to make 50 operations in three days. Claudine and Daniela practised physiotherapy with those who had been operated upon. On returning to Malta Claudine and Daniela both admitted that they experienced a culture shock. One will start realising that many things which you crave for are not that necessary after all. Monica Tonna Barthet, ‘A Maltese woman with an Ethiopian heart’, was the title that journalist Elaine Attard of the Malta Independent gave to a write-up on Monica Tonna Barthet, who had completely devoted her life and retirement savings Chapter 6.6 ____________ LAY MISSIONARIES
  • 47. 49 The concept of Catholicism first arrived in Kenya in 1498 with a Portuguese trader. Catholic Missionaries began travelling to Kenya in the late 1500s, but the country did not have an official Church presence until the 1900s. Today there are 29 dioceses, and more than seven million baptized Kenyans. However, many Kenyans mix their Christian beliefs with traditional beliefs such as witchcraft. Chapter 7 ____________ KENYA Chapter 7.1 ____________ THE FRANCISCAN CAPUCHINS (OFM) Episcopal Conference, and proved to be a very beneficial asset to the Church. The successor to the late Bishop Baldacchino OFM. Cap is Fr Emanuel Barbara OFM. Cap. Born in Gzira on the 27th October 1949 and ordained priest on July 20 1974 he held various responsibilities: served as vice parish priest, was chaplain at St. Luke´s Hospital, studied Moral Theology at the Alfonsianum, lectured at INSERM, the Maltese religious Faculty and was Provincial Minister. He also occupied various responsibilities in Kenya where, before becoming Bishop, he was a missionary for eighteen years. He was director of Formation in Nairobi, superior of the formation house in Lang´ata and Professor at Tangaza College, apart from being first vice-provincial in Kenya. For ten years, he served as Professor of the Faculty of Moral Theology at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi. Before his appointment of Bishop of Malindi he was serving as Provincial Minister for the Province of Malta and President of the European Capuchins Conference (CENOC). Currently, the Malindi Diocese has 17 parishes, 35 priests of whom 11 are diocesan and 24 religious, 30 religious brothers, 44 nuns and 8 major seminarians. The diocese of Garissa, geographically, is the more extensive diocese of the twenty eight dioceses that compose the Catholic Church in Kenya. It is extensive but sparsely populated so that the Bishop, the priests and engaged laity have to travel far and wide forming Small Christian Communities which Kenya The contribution of the Maltese Franciscan Capuchins in the work of evangelisation in foreign missions started as early as the late 16th century, some years after they settled in Malta. When one mentions Kenya, we immediately think of Garissa where Paul Darmanin is now Bishop, and of Malindi, where the late Francis Baldacchino OFM served as bishop, and where Joe Alessandro has been appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Garissa in 2012. As these two cities are predominantly Muslim, the Capuchins gave great importance to Islamic Studies and Dialogue, attracting the respect of young Muslims. Bishop Baldacchino deepened his study and knowledge of the Koran. He dedicated a sabbatical year studying at the Pontifical University in Rome run by the Missionaries of Africa, and furthered his study of Arabic in Cairo. In Cairo he joined volunteers of Caritas International working amongst the lepers in the outskirts of the Egyptian capital. Back in Mpeketoni near Malindi, Fr Baldacchino published a magazine called ‘Come Closer’ to serve as a bridge between Christians and Muslims of good will. He tried to show that people coming from both cultures and religions could live side by side as children of the same God. When in the year 2000 he was appointed Bishop, he formed part of the Kenyan Bishop Francis Baldachino Bishop Paul Darmanin
  • 48. 50 for a copy of the Holy Bible, for the holy beads and other symbols to help them pray with other Catholics in small groups, in the area where they were stationed. These groups are stronger in the South where the Catholics are relatively more numerous and especially when they belong to the same ethnic group. In these areas after a short period of time they soon felt the need to build a room or two to meet, and from where the nuns could organize works of charity and human promotion. Soon after, they felt the need to build a church. With the help of Maltese friars like Thaddeus Schembri, Fr Hillary Abela, Fr Joe Abela and Maurice Cassar one can see a number of churches built of stone ‘around which we have living stones, really and truly small but living communities trying to practice the faith they have received’. For a long period of time only the Catholics were evangelizing in these remote areas like Mpeketoni. Later various sects followed. The Catholic Communities, however, are stronger and persevering. As the Bishop put it: ‘We are not afraid to be strong in our position, and show that the teaching of the Gospel and His Church does not accept accommodation – and that our mission is no joke’. Charity That Knows No Bounds The missionaries in Garissa shared their food and clothing not only with the Catholics but even with those who burnt their churches, attacked and killed missionaries. Students were sponsored in their primary and secondary education irrespective of their belief. All this was possible through the help of Maltese benefactors. The nuns of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus joined in this project giving particular help to the parents of the students. Fr Spiridione in Garsen and Wema, and Fr Maurice in Mpeketoni both involved themselves in small housing projects. Clinics too were opened when this help was not forthcoming from the local authorities. We cannot avoid remembering here the sad incident of Sr Agnes of Wema, which occurred on the 12th July 1989, when she was in prayer with her companions and Fr is the characteristic of the Church in the diocese of Garissa. The population in the diocese of Garissa is fruit of internal migration in Kenya itself, representing different church experiences and different ethnic groups. In the first years of the creation of the diocese, Bishop Paul Darmanin had to be content with 12 priests, 25 nuns and with the help of lay missionaries coming from Italy, Britain and Malta who for a year or two, served with great generosity. The Maltese Capuchins were faced with a pioneering work and from the start tried to involve the Kenyan Christian laity who passed through their diocese for short periods of time serving as civil servants of the Kenyan Government. Bishop Paul had clear ideas on the need and possibility to develop the various ministries in the diocese. Some understood and accepted the message to integrate and help each other, irrespective of cultures and creed, which the Bishop wanted to pass on to them. Many times, Catholic refugees, from neighbouring countries who were living in camps on the outskirts of Garissa Parish, sometimes some 100 kilometres away, came asking Africa
  • 49. 51 Spiridione. Somebody knocked on the door and she, believing that it was someone of good faith, opened the door and was suddenly shot in the face. Yet, Fr Spiridione and Fr Joseph Gauci persisted in their mission and as a result today there is a flourishing faith in distant communities such as those of Moa. Nearby Hola is a vast and flourishing parish with more than twenty outstations. Fr Joe Galea has been working there for more than thirty-five years assisted by several other missionaries. Together they built strong catholic communities which are flourishing. Fr Joe Alessandro, after serving a second term as Vicar of Bishop Paul in Garissa, was consecrated as Auxiliary Bishop. He recalls how in 1974, the first group of missionaries arrived in Kenya. This number kept increasing, for a period of ten years. Today the diocese of Garissa is run by Bishop Paul. The Capuchins felt it was time to give more importance to vocation work. As a result today there are some 40 Kenyan Capuchins and some 15 studying philosophy and theology, fruit of this Maltese Capuchin Mission. Today, the Church is quite present in Kenya and the Capuchins are present in the dioceses of Garissa and Malindi. Some are working in Nairobi where a parish and school of formation are found. Theology is taught to students coming from such countries as Zimbabwe, Uganda and Zambia. Amongst the students are lay people too. At the other end the Kenyan religious students study philosophy in Zambia. The Church has three seminaries. Unfortunately vocations can be limited because of the belief that the first male son is very important for the family. He is responsible for his brothers and sisters. If he finds a job he is expected to help them, rather than join the priesthood. The Church inAfrica is very much alive. The bishops of all the countries in East Africa – Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi, Sudan and Uganda meet twice a year and publish priorities and objectives to govern the pastoral life. They publish documents dealing with the basic social, Kenya economic and political problems that face the African nations. The Church in these countries is only 150 years old, and that is very young compared to the beginning of the Church in nearby Ethiopia which goes back to the time of St. Mark. Fr Silvester Bonavia left Malta in April 1984 for Garissa. This Mission was started by the Consolata Fathers in 1968 at the bidding of Pope Paul VI. In 1974 the Mission passed on to the Maltese Capuchins at the hands of Fr Leo White who for ten years worked jointly with Fr Vincent Buhagiar, Fr Thaddeus Schembri and Fr Joe Grixti, with the help of Maltese, English, Irish, and Indian religious and lay missionaries. To the north of Garissa, the parish of Wajir was well developed by Fr Crispin Tabone OFM. Cap and a group of Italian volunteers. The Rehabilitation Centre, well known all over Kenya, was unique in that part of the country. The outstations and other centres catered well for the needs of the poor and sick of the area, as well as for their educational and social needs. Garissa, because of its geographical position, surrounded Bishop Joe Alessandro
  • 50. 52 as it is by the desert, suffers the onset of drought at regular intervals. The Church in Garissa was the only agency in the area which received great quantities of food, which was then distributed to thousands of hungry people, during the drought of 1992 - 94. The actual organisation was in the hands Bishop Paul and Fr Crispin while the day to day running was done well by Brother Joe Vella. Fr Silvester remembers the large storages in the Boys Town, with two large containers arriving every day at the place full of beans, rice, oil, corn and blankets and clothes. Hundreds of people used to come from distant villages in search of sufficient food for them and their families. It was a time too when Garissa was receiving as many as 300,000 refugees from nearby Somalia, Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Ethiopia. The Capuchins, through Fr Pelagju Bilocca, were taking the first steps in vocation work. Fr Silvester who had just terminated a course in the Franciscan Spirituality at the Antonianum in Rome, found his help was needed. He was also responsible for the pastoral activity of the Cathedral and the surrounding area. This pastoral activity left a mark on Fr Silvester’s life. The bishop asked him to give doctrinal formation and more important still, make the Christians feel that they form part of the Church of Garissa. Fr Silvester put his heart and soul into this work. In Garissa 21 different languages were spoken. Few spoke Swahili and fewer still English. The principal means of passing on the Christian faith was through the six Secondary Schools, a Technical college, a Nursing School and even a Training College for Teachers with more than 200 student-teachers. Fr Silvester dedicated himself fully to these schools and in the time that remained, he also visited the prisons where amongst the inmates were some Christians of whom a few were Catholics. A pastoral activity practised by the Church in East Africa, were the Small Christian Communities. The communities were independent bodies, but the leaders needed special Africa formation. Through the help of Fr Francis Baldacchino, the coordinator of the Pastoral activity, Fr Silvester sent the leaders to a Pastoral Centre in Nairobi, run by a Belgian missionary. These small communities formed of 20 to 30 persons used to meet once a week, reflect on the Bible, prepare the liturgy and discuss their daily life. Two or three times during the year they used to have special seminars. Their thirst for learning was extraordinary. Fr Silvester is grateful to the help he received from Malta and Gozo to support these groups, investing in a library of some 200 videos and catholic literature. He also received help from another Centre called UKWELI run by the Maryknoll Fathers and from the Pauline nuns who translated into Kiswahili, productions on the Acts of the Apostles and other productions. The formation of the students in the primary schools was in the hands of graduate Catholic teachers who received a special formation from the Catholic Secretariat. In the Secondary schools the story was a bit different. Apart from guaranteeing that the teachers received a special formation, Fr Silvester used to accompany the students, youths between 13 and 17 years of age in their classes. The students in these Colleges and Institutes were boarders. Once a month they joined the bigger Catholic Community and animated the liturgy. The Church in Kenya had published a special book of hymns for the liturgy in Kiswahili, entitled Tumshangilie Bwana (Let us give Glory to the Lord). Fr Silvester was accompanied by Fr Joe Alessandro in this pastoral work. At present Brother John Cassar is working in this area and looking after the needs of the local people. They instituted the Catholic Teachers’Association which was open for Teachers of other denominations too. It was a new thing, at that time. They sent the members for meetings on national level in Nairobi. The same procedure was adopted with the group of women gathered in the ‘Catholic Women Association’. The basic thought was a solid Christian formation. The faithful used to change their residence very
  • 51. 53 Kenya often. In the words of Bishop Darmanin ‘we are forming the Church in Kenya. The Capuchins tried to give them a sense of belonging’. The Missionary work of the Maltese Capuchins and the other religious who followed them in Garissa is bearing abundant fruit. Evangelization is moving at a steady even though sometimes slow pace. The Maltese and Gozitans have and are still supporting this big challenge. Without doubt Garissa and Malindi of 1974 are very much different: they are today enlightened by the Gospel. Fr Victor Jaccarini reminds us that the history of the Jesuits in East Africa dates back to the time of the founding of the order by St. Ignatius. St Francis Xavier on his way to India in 1541 stopped in Malindi in coastal Kenya. Today Malindi is the See of a Maltese Capuchin bishop. St. Ignatius had himself desired to work in Ethiopia and, as the first Superior General of the Society, created the Province of Ethiopia in 1553, to which he assigned fifteen Jesuits. In modern times, in 1945, French Canadian Jesuits arrived in Ethiopia at the request of Emperor Haile Selassie. They immersed themselves in the educational apostolate and besides starting a High School, were instrumental also in the establishment of the first University of Ethiopia, where they also set up a Geophysical Laboratory. More recently the Jesuits have been asked by the Church in Ethiopia to help start a Catholic University. The Maltese Jesuits had also been responsible for the Santal Parganas mission, near Calcutta in India, since 1925. When in the 1960s the Indian government stopped issuing new entry permits to Christian missionaries, the Maltese Province started looking elsewhere to see where it could be of help. An exploratory tour of various Eastern Africa countries by the Provincial Fr Arthur Vella, together with Fr General’s African Chapter 7.2 ____________ THE JESUITS (SJ) Assistant, finally picked on Uganda. This was related to the new interest inAfrica occasioned by Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on the subject, Fidei Donum. In 1969 Fathers Paul Mallia and Joe Galdes, together with two Jesuit students, Alfred Micallef and Paul Falzon were the first Maltese Jesuits to be sent to Uganda. Fr George German went out in 1971. Two lay-brothers, Joe B. Vella and Carmel Azzopardi were meant to go in 1969 but because of the serious security situation in Uganda under Idi Amin, they joined the first group later as did two other students, Gregory Farrugia and Gigi Zammit. They placed themselves at the service of the Bishop of Kampala and took part in educational and pastoral ministries activities around the capital and in other dioceses further afield. The same heightened missionary interest in Africa caused a great influx of Jesuits from many other Jesuit provinces worldwide in the sixties and seventies. By 1975, therefore, Jesuits in Eastern Africa reflected the diversity of the Society in terms of persons and ministries. They hailed from Britain, Ireland, Italy, India, Malta, Canada and the U.S.A. and even Chile, and were involved in pastoral, spiritual, educational and formation ministries as well as human development projects. Local vocations to the Society were welcomed and young men from all the countries of East Africa have been numerous since 1970. Fr Pedro Arrupe, the charismatic 27th Superior General of the Society, created the independent Region of Eastern Africa in 1976 with the fusion of different Jesuit missions in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. When it was founded there were forty-six full members serving under one regional superior. Quoting from Paul VI’s 1975 Evangelii Nuntiandi Fr Arrupe wrote: ‘… diversity of service in the unity of the same mission makes up the richness and beauty of evangelization’. In 1979 the situation at the University of Malta where Fr Victor had been employed since 1966, as a Lecturer in Zoology since 1971, was becoming very difficult for the Science Departments. Fr Jaccarini realized that as things
  • 52. 54 Africa were developing there was no more place for him as a lecturer there and with his superiors’ blessing started looking abroad. He was offered a post in the Jesuit Georgetown University in America but did not take up the offer partly because he was more interested in a Third World country. So he applied instead for a post of Senior Lecturer in Zoology at the State University of Nairobi. In September 1980 he resigned from the University of Malta and went to Nairobi. He remembers with amusement that when he arrived at Nairobi airport there were three cars waiting to pick him up: one from the University, another from the Regional Superior of the Jesuits with Fr Henry Formosa and a third was from the Jesuit house that was to receive him. ‘This is to show you that you are very welcome among us in Kenya!’ one of the chauffeurs told him. This proved to be prophetic of his stay and work in Kenya as a priest and scientist. At that time, besides Fr Formosa, there was also Fr Joe Galea in Kenya both working in Major Seminaries. Fr Jaccarini spent seventeen years in the state University of Nairobi first as Senior Lecturer and later as Associate Professor in Zoology. While at the University, he was Assistant to the University chaplain. For six years he was at the same time superior of the Central house of the Jesuit Province of EasternAfrica with a community of over twenty Jesuits originating from many different countries and continents. He was appointed the first Delegate of the Provincial of Eastern Africa for formation for Jesuit scholastics and brothers. He was responsible for the general supervision of training and development of more than seventy young men. This involved a great deal of travel in Africa as well as in Europe, N. America and Asia. The Jesuits of Eastern Africa were engaged in many fields, not only teaching in many major seminaries, but also running parishes, social projects of various kinds, even in teaching farmers improved methods in agriculture, dairy farming, irrigation, field work demonstration, projects to help women generate their income. This was accompanied by publication of booklets with technical information. Jesuits helped to plan and set up the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, which in a few years became the Catholic University of Eastern Africa with a State charter. They now run several Secondary Schools and Colleges in four different countries of East Africa. Jesuit Refugee Service has many large projects in East Africa. The region had also hosted Hekima College, the first Jesuit school of Theology in Africa inaugurated in 1984 and serving the whole African Assistancy. Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, then Superior General of the Society, was satisfied that these apostolic developments, allowed him to establish the region as the fully-fledged Province of Eastern Africa in 1986. In Eastern Africa Province the Jesuits have a rich history. The achievements of the last twenty-five years provide ample reason to celebrate and plan for a vibrant future. The Province desires to become closer than ever before to that one mission of Christ which unites all Jesuits into a single apostolic body, working to promote faith, justice and peace.
  • 53. 55 Kenya After he retired from Nairobi University in 1998, Fr Jaccarini moved to a retreat house on the outskirts of Nairobi which attracted people from all the countries of Eastern Africa and many other countries of the continent. Here he stayed for another ten years giving the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius and ongoing spiritual accompaniment. The house also gave several courses for training spiritual directors and also a course for lay pastoral ministers. For some years Fr Victor was Superior and Director of the retreat house and community. In 2008 he was sad to have to return to Malta because of health reasons. In the Heart of Africa The mission of the Sisters of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart was a result of a dialogue between Sr Pauline Farrugia and the Capuchin Fr Frans Baldacchino who later became Bishop. Mgr Leo White OFM Cap at that time was the first Apostolic PrefectoftheMissioninGarissa.InOctober1979anagreement was reached with the Superior General and Sr Susanna Camilleri who visited the Mission at Garissa. Unfortunately the nuns accompanied by the Capuchin Fr Pelagju Bilocca suffered a serious car accident which complicated their life. This notwithstanding, the decision was taken to build the first House in Hola. The pioneers of this mission in Hola were nun Kerubina Cremona and nun Karolina Cassar. In April 1980 Sr Pauline started an orientation course in Garissa, studied the Swahili language, and followed a course for midwifery in Mater Misericordiae hospital. In November 1981, after a year and a half of training, she moved to Mpeketoni and started working as a nurse. Soon after, Mgr Leo White chose her as the Medical Coordinator and Family Coordinator of the Catholic Mission in Garissa. Sr Pauline testifies that this period of her life was very difficult in her life. She used to stay in the mission compound or at the Boys Town. She was alone during all this period of training and formation. It was difficult for her to get accustomed to the noise of the animals at night and the extremely hot weather. In Mpeketoni the Nunsorganised the training of community health workers and had a mobile clinic going to 9 locations. They also had a feeding programme for undernourished children. Other programmes included the Christian Children’s fund to help children according to their need, and help for elderly people. Besides, the nuns did pastoral work in schools, organised seminars on a regular basis for youths to grow in maturity and to live ethically, and also organised seminars on responsible parenthood for couples. In due course, they opened a health centre and a secondary school for girls to help them develop and have better opportunities. In the meantime the Congregation on the 4th of December had already opened their first House in Hola with Sr Karolina Cassar and Sr Kerubina Cremona. They formed the first Small Community in this poor and primitive region. Mgr Leo White blessed their House in Hola on the 15th February 198. Sr Susanna, notwithstanding her serious accident returned to Kenya as the Superior of the Community. Unfortunately, Sr Susanne suffered another accident, this time on a motorcycle, which put her out of action for three months. But still she persisted in her Mission. In Hola there was a Church,theCapuchin’sConvent,theparochialCentre,aHouse for the catechists and the nuns’ convent. Fr Joe Galea OFM. Cap was of great help for the nuns to accustom themselves. They were partly responsible for eight mission stations. The nearest was Emmaus, six kilometres distant, and the farthest was Wenje, 42 kilometres away. They always accompanied the priest and took care to distribute food supplied by the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), to some 1000 families. NunsKarolina and Kerubina, after receiving a seven week Chapter 7.3 ____________ THE DAUGHTERS OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS (DSH)
  • 54. 56 Africa course in Swahili, began teaching catechism in the villages and in two secondary schools. In 1985, the Community in Hola was formed of Sr Karolina Cassar, Sr Sandra Cassar and Sr Victoria Sant. Some 150 children were adopted by Maltese families contributing four Malta pounds a month. These offerings served to provide the children with a school uniform, nets to protect them at night from dangerous mosquitoes which transmit malaria, and any urgent help the families of the children might need. The Sisters visited the families of the children regularly. In Hola the majority of the population was Christian. OtheractivitiesoftheCongregationinHola,weretheformation of the women’s groups called ‘Sant’Anna’ and the opening of a clinic. Sr Victoria Sant, who was a specialized nurse, gave courses to various participants of these groups. The second House was opened in Hongwe which lies a few kilometres far from Mpeketoni. The standard of living in Hongwe was better than in Hola because many families had their own farmstead. In Hongwe, being 250 kilometres away from Hola, the social conditions are different. Sr Susanna, Sr Pauline, Sr Kerubina and Sr Kristina belonged to the community in Hongwe. The nuns opened a clinic and also taught sewing, which is a craft that guaranteed a living for many families. But the work of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart did not end there. In 1985 they moved to the diocese of Nairobi and opened a house in an industrial area of Ruiru. There they do a lot of social work with street children and with elderly people, teaching crafts and dress making. Besides they have a nursery school, a primary school and hope to continue by having a secondary school. In Ruiru there is a formation house, the first step for those girls who would like to join the Congregation. This first stage of formation is called aspirancy. They moved to Satellite in 1997, where they have a home for girls. These are orphans from AIDS victims. The nuns try to give them a holistic formation. Besides, there is also a nursery school and the nuns do a lot of social work with the families. That year, they also moved to another parish, this time in Limuru. There they take care of children who are orphans with a lot of social problems. They offer help and counselling to help them to go beyond their past experiences. In this parish nuns prepare couples for marriage and do a lot of pastoral and social work. In 1999 the nuns moved to Langata where today there is the administration house. There they also help children and families with social problems and perform varied pastoral work. These last four places, that is, Ruiru, Satellite, Limuru and Langata are all within Nairobi Diocese. The Congregation has another Mission in the Diocese of Machakos where nuns give medical help through the dispensary and do social work with families and children. They are also very much involved in pastoral activities. Sr Juliana is the coordinator of the diocese for pastoral care. In Mombasa they have two houses: one in Likoni and the other next to Likoni parish.These provide a dispensary, a nursery and a primary school. The nuns are also fully involved with social and pastoral work. This was not enough for then they moved to Tanzania where they have a house in Arusha and another one in Dar Es Salaam. In both houses the nuns are involved in education, social work and pastoral work. The people appreciate all that the nuns do but above all they appreciate their witness to their commitment in consecrated life.   
  • 55. 57 Kenya Chapter 7.4 ____________ THE FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES OF MARY (FMM) Chapter 7.5 ____________ THE FRANCISCAN SISTER OF THE HEART OF JESUS(FCJ) Sr Evelyn Delicata was sent to Kenya in 1999 where she taught Christian Religious Education. During the 3 years she spent in Kenya, she worked among the Borana people in a semi-desert place called Garba Tulla, at 120km away from the nearest town of Isiolo. The Boranas descended from the highlands of Ethiopia and moved to the lowlands. They were agriculturalists, but abandoned agriculture and adopted a pastoral life-style. She taught Christian Religious Education in the Mission Nagaa Primary School (all the children were Muslims), supervised the Mission Nursery School and also ran a Nutrition Programme for undernourished children below the age of five. After 3 years, she left Kenya for Ethiopia to work among the ethnic group called Sidamo. There, in the centre of Sidamo, in the village of Bushalo, the Catholic Mission run a Health Centre which is administered by the FMM Sr Evelyn was a member of the administration team of this Health Centre Sr Evelyn Delicata was also in charge of the ongoing formation for all East Africa. At the same time, she travelled to other Provinces of the FMM, like that of Vietnam and India in the Far East, giving Formation Courses. In 1989, accepting the invitation of the Maltese Capuchins, the FranciscanSistersoftheHeartofJesus,establishedthemselves in Wajir in the north-east of Kenya. Their first task was to accompany the Capuchin Friars in the Rehabilitation Centre for handicapped children and in the clinic. Unfortunately, in August 1998, a group of radical Muslims attacked the church and their convent. A year later, in May 1999, the Superior General Mother Bertilla Bartolo accompanied by the Regional Superior Mother Josepha Gauci, visited the mission in Wajir and after discussing the situation with the Maltese Bishop Mons. Paul Darmanin, it was decided that the security of the nuns couldn’t be guaranteed and the nuns were moved elsewhere.
  • 56. 58 Africa In July 1993 the nuns opened Saint Clare’s convent in Nairobi and successively built the novitiate Sacred Heart of Jesus replacing the novitiate house they already had in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. This House was inaugurated in 1994. The novices and the postulants frequented this inter-congregational house of formation which helped them immensely in their pastoral formation. Since 1993, in Nairobi the nuns took care of a Children’s Centre, Saint Francis of Assisi which lies in a derelict area in the village of Kawangware. The children are orphans living with their grandmothers, or abandoned in the streets, or sick because of malnutrition. The nuns offer them a hot lunch, take care of the handicapped by trying to integrate them with the rest, teaching them to read and write. They try to inculcate in them moral principles and the desire to work so that they will be able to take up a job when one is offered. In 1996 the nuns were invited by the Consolata Fathers to help in the pastoral work in Witima, Kenya, which lies in the north west of the country. The nuns are carrying out pastoral and social work with the poor. They visit the sick and the elderly, they are responsible for the teaching of catechism within the parish and one of them is also responsible for the teaching of catechism in Schools. They administer a Clinic, a Kindergarten and an elementary school. In 2002 the Regional Council was moved fromAddisAbaba in Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya with Sr Josepha Gauci appointed as Regional Superior. Because of the cultural differences between the two countries, however, Sr Ludgarda Camileri was appointed Delegate of the Regional Superior, for the nuns in Ethiopia. In 2007 a new House dedicated to Mary Immaculate was opened in Kangari, Kenya, diocese of Muranga. This was meant for the formation of the aspirants and to carry out educational, health and pastoral activities. Father Pier Giuseppe Pesce OFM, who knows the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, inside out, says: “It is with a sentiment of profound admiration that we see this brave presence of the sisters, full of suffering, on African soil, where they had the first opportunity, since 1927 to practise their missionary charisma. We can only wish that in the future the same Congregation will be able to give this spiritual and humanitarian service in a more peaceful context”. Today the nuns working in Kenya are: Sr Josepha Gauci the Regional Superior; Sr Michelina Micallef, Superior and bursar of the Region. A promising sign is the encouraging number of girls, especially in Kenya, who offer themselves to embrace the religious life within the same Congregation. Sr Celina Cini started her missionary work in Kenya. She was assigned on a three-month working holiday in Wajir to relieve one of the nuns who needed to visit her family. There she met the Capuchin fathers and from them, she learnt the rudiments of missionary work. She was impressed watching Bishop Darmanin loading his jeep with water containers to be distributed to whomever he encountered during his long trips visiting the different parishes. Water was more precious than gold in these drought-stricken places. She remembers Fr Crispin Tabone pleading with St. Joseph when the trucks of Chapter 7.6 ____________ MISSIONARY SISTERS OF OUR LADY OF Africa (WHITE SISTERS) (MSOLA)
  • 57. 59 Kenya maize urgently needed did not arrive on time. She watched in admiration the nuns, groping to learn a new strange language and with it learn how to fix a jeep when it suddenly stops in the middle of nowhere. The endless queue of sick people, waiting patiently to be treated by the nuns helped Sr Celina to appreciate the life of service dispensed by the Franciscan nuns. That first experience in Africa could be summed up in what a Muslim lady told her before she left for Then there was the frequent travelling in worn down coaches to visit the families of the candidates across Kenya. They went experiencing the richness of the apostolate of the first Italian and Irish missionaries who invested in education and health care. These missionaries built churches, schools, hospitals, clinics and formed basic communities. God only knows the help that went forth from their hands - medicine, clothes, food galore, arrangement for funerals, hours of counselling, animation of the Liturgy and endless formation seminars for the youth. So many young people and children benefited from education sponsorship. The nuns were there for them, a living sign of God’s tremendous love for mankind. They witnessed the hope in the eyes of so many destitute people, together with a beaming smile that lighted their faces every time they received the help they so much needed. All this apostolate was supported by the personal and community prayer and the financial help of so many generous Maltese benefactors. After a few years in Kenya they could sense that they needed to pass on the baton to the Kenyan nuns and move on to another promised land. Their Mission was accomplished!! Sr Celina passed through Malawi and Tanzania apart from Kenya where in fact she spent most of her Missionary life. In Kenya Sr Celina worked in Nairobi in the Queen of Peace Parish, which belonged to theWhite Fathers. Here, her pastoral work was mainly with Youth and together with Fr Michel, organized several activities which were well frequented. The young people used to excel in their talents, especially those interested in handcraft, carpentry, ironmongery and tailoring. Others were interested in drama and in singing. Many of these youths found a job when they presented the certificate they had received at the end of their course. She was transferred to Mombasa at St Mary Church, which was a big parish with just one priest and one catechist. She worked full time in the parish office, attending the parishioners in their family problems. She also distributed Holy Communion Malta. ‘Allah sent us his angels and for this we are thankful’. Her first assignment came when together with other Maltese nuns, she was asked to put on a sound foundation the initial formation of the Kenyan teenagers. To manage to do this they had to absorb another culture. Gone was the tasty Maltese bread. Instead they had to get used to eat ugali, chapatti, maize and the delicious avocado fruit, the mangoes and papaya. They had to master another language although the English language was very useful. They had also to learn, and this was the hardest lesson, how to get rid of unhealthy pity. Professional swindlers can easily cheat missionaries. So they had to learn the hard way how to be on the guard for these cons.
  • 58. 60 to the sick and the elderly in their homes. Through the help she received from the Maltese people, she started a library. This attracted many students as well as teachers and others who could otherwise never have managed to read a book. A parishioner bought daily newspapers for the library. This attracted even more people. One could see how reading changed the lives of adults and children alike. In some schools they might have only one book for the whole class of over a hundred children. It was no surprise that children and adults flocked to the parish library on a daily basis. Members of the Society of Christian Doctrine (SDC) Members of the M.U.S.E.U.M who felt that they have a vocation to go to the missions have for three decades been going to Kenya. They concentrated most in a particular parish in Ruiru, outside Nairobi, where they run a trade school apart from helping in the catechism lessons in the parish. They have persevered for all these years in this mission with members periodically substituting each other. ThefirstMembersarrivedinKenyainOctober1989.Theirarrival was very much awaited and appreciated by the late Michael Maurice Cardinal Otunga, then Archbishop of Nairobi. They were given charge of the Sunday School and of the Christian formation of many children and youth who greatly benefited from their presence. Notwithstanding the many hardships, the Members eagerly tried to keep their apostolate going. The Society hopes that its activities have helped and keep on helping, those who come in touch with it. The Society is strongly challenged by the African culture and thus needs to continue its immersion in the Kenyan life-style, keeping in mind its spirituality and charisma which should be safeguarded at all times and in all places. Africa Some of the members teach in Government Primary and Secondary schools. Situated in the heart of Ruiru, these schools allow them to come in contact with hundreds of students, teachers and parents. They are also responsible for the running of the Preca Vocational Training Centre (PVTC). Opened in 1998, this training centre has prepared many in acquiring a trade such as carpentry, electrical installation and motor-vehicle mechanics. At the end of the one-year course, the trainees sit for a national exam and eventually they can present their certificates which enable them to apply for a job. Apart from the trade, the lay missionaries of the SDC try to pass on a Catholic outlook on life. In the beginning of 2010, a well-equipped computer lab opened its doors within the Preca Vocational Training Centre for those who would like to become computer literate. The Daily Apostolate On weekdays the SDC Centre opens at 4:45pm. They have four organised classes: two Preparatory classes, Elects and Aspirants. School in Kenya finishes at 4:00pm and these youths are always eager to spend some time playing together after the long school hours. After half an hour of sports, all children and youths enter their respective classes for the lesson. These lessons include the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayer meetings, Bible sharing, sentences from the Voice of the Beloved and the Epistles of the Apostles, lives and maxims of the saints, and formation in the spirituality of the Society. On Saturdays, the SDC Centre opens at 4:30pm following the normal programme of catechism classes, but with some added time for sports. Sunday mornings are reserved especially for those preparing to receive Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation. They have five organized classes, one for every Sacrament: a class for young children, another one for older children and youths. Many keep on coming for catechism lessons although they have already received the Sacraments of Initiation. All Members and Candidates, including a number of Aspirants, are involved in the teaching of these classes. On Sunday afternoon, the SDC Centre opens at 4:00pm for an Chapter 7.7 ____________ LAY MISSIONARIES
  • 59. 61 Kenya hour or so of games. Then at 5:15pm, all children and youths go to their respective classes and pray the Rosary together with their catechists. Afterwards, the Members and Candidates, together with the Elects and Aspirants, pray the Union together. Formative meetings for the parents of all those who come to the SDC Centre, are organized regularly. These meetings are held monthly and those who participate show a lot of interest. Once a month, the members go to an out-station within the parish of Ruiru which is dedicated to St. Lucia. After the Sunday Mass, they give two Catechism lessons, one for youths and adults, and one for children. Voluntary Lay Missionaries (VLM) Mr Salvu Grima started his two year experience in Garissa in 1986. However his first experience occurred in the summer of 1985 when together with a group of seven other volunteers of the Gozo Missionary Group he spent five to six weeks with the Capuchins. During this stay they carried out various works like painting beds at Garissa Boys Town and giving the last finishes to the church at Madogo. At the end of this stay they participated in the 43rd International Eucharistic Congress that was held in Nairobi. This gave Salvu and his companions a taste of what the Church in Kenya was all about. On his return to Malta he attended a profitable Missiology Course organised by the Pontifical Mission Societies (Missions Office) at the Catholic Institute. Eventually he and a certain Emmanuel Abdilla, returned to the Garissa Mission, where they were at the service of Bishop Paul Darmanin and the Capuchin fathers. They worked in the Boys’ Town where they looked after about sixty boys. They assisted the priests in their pastoral work, driving them daily to Madogo church to teach at the Secondary Schools and visiting the prison or the hospital. They also assisted the nuns coming from India. This made them aware of the universality of the Church. The nuns used to distribute food in the mother and child project, gave lessons on nutrition when dealing with babies and young children up to five years old. The diocese had another project with the Christian Children’s Fund based in the USAand Canada who sponsored the education of more than 200 children. It was the task of Salvu and Emanuel to help the children keep in contact with their sponsors, keeping them informed of their progress at school, sending them photos and helping the boys to write letters written to their sponsors. Some of these children lived in the bush and in this case they had to pick them up in the morning and take them back in the afternoon, taking the opportunity to visit their families. On a couple of occasions they accompanied the Indian nuns taking the disabled children to a rehabilitation centre of the Capuchins’ Mission in Wajir. There the children were provided with proper callipers and shoes. Wajir is about 8 hours travel further north in the Diocese of Garissa where Salvu and Emanuel veryoftenmetotherVLM(VoluntaryLayMissionary)volunteers who were taking care of the children at the Girls’ Town and the Rehabilitation Centre. Travelling seven to eight hours in the bush was like going on a Safari.You do not know what to expect. Garissa, situated in the centre of the Diocese, was a meeting place for the missionaries who happened to be travelling to and from Nairobi. Salvu and Emanuel took care of these missionaries preparing their accommodation, making the missionaries feel at home. On a special occasion, Emmanuel and Salvu felt honoured to serve Cardinal Maurice Otunga who was visiting the army personnel in the North-East Province. Theircommitmentwasforoneyear,buttheBishoppolitelyasked them to extend their stay for another year. They immediately acceded to his request because working for others had become a great satisfaction for both. Their only hope was that they had given some joy to these people in need and that they gave proper witness to the teaching of our Lord.
  • 60. 62 Africa 8.1 Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA) Sr Celina Cini, a White Sister, started her religious life with the Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth. During her Mission in Malta, she took care of orphans and children in two different orphanages. Pursuing her vocation, to go and work in a missionary country, she joined the International Missionary Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, known as The White Sisters. She served in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. After her training in Rome, she was sent to Lilongwe, in Malawi in Central Africa. The Republic of Malawi, formerly known as Nyasaland, covers an area of over 46,000 square miles, with an estimated population of more than 15,000,000. The country is also nicknamed The Warm Heart of Africa. Christianity is the main religion in Malawi. Sixty percent of the Christians are Protestants and 15% are Catholics. The first missionary outreach in Malawi began with the arrival of Dr David Livingstone in 1859. The White Fathers in 1889 were the first permanent Catholic presence. The Church in Malawi continues to grow, creating a vital need for leadership training for Malawians. In Malawi, Sr Celina, together with another two nuns, worked in one of the Home Craft Centres for Women. This Centre received women from all over the country, who came to follow an intensive six-month course. They could bring with them any children they had under the age of five. Their husbands and their other children could come and visit them on Sundays. The nuns gave lessons in cooking (mainlyAfrican dishes), sewing, hygiene, needlework, (sewing/knitting/ crochet), writing & reading Chichewa (their first language), cleaning, economics, business, and child care. At the end of these courses, they all returned to their home renewed, full of dreams and energy to start a new life. Many husbands used to come and beg the nuns to accept their wives to follow these courses, as they knew that the life of their families would change for the better. Chapter 8 ____________ MALAWI
  • 61. 63 9.1 The Jesuits (SJ) In 1985 Fr Bernard Mallia returned to Rome for a well- deserved rest after a good ten years in Tanzania. He was later posted to Sudan where he lectured in Theology at the major Seminary in Juba. He principally taught Fundamental Theology but he also became the librarian for a good 26 years, a profession he mastered from the late Fr Sapienzia SJ, the Maltese librarian. Apart from lecturing Theology for 21 years, he engaged himself in pastoral activity including becoming chaplain in a large prison and helping in a nearby parish. Because of the civil, war the students fled from Juba and Fr Bernard exiled himself together with the students to Khartoum where the Christians and the Negroes had no rights whatsoever. He had to go to Beirut where the Jesuits have a University to study the Arabic language which is the language of the North of Sudan. In 2005 he was sent to Rumbek a town in the Lake State with an Italian Bishop Mgr Cesar Mazzoralli, a Combonian missionary. After five years in Rumbek, the Provincial asked him to help Jesuits who came from Nigeria working in the city of Wau in Bahr El Hazel. There the Jesuits have the Loyola Secondary School. Unfortunately he fell victim to a severe attack of malaria, remaining semi-conscious for nine days and had to return to Malta to recover. When he was declared healed he returned to Sudan. Fr Bernard survived the war of liberation against the Arabs. In fact, Fr Bernard explains, the Arabs invaded Sudan coming down from Libya and other regions in the North. Sudan is a country of Black People. Sudan means sewdan like the Maltese iswed, meaning black. In 2001, after five years of conflict and discussions, a referendum was held and the South became Independent. The bishop worked hard in their favour and he asked Fr Bernard to help him publish a book on the social teaching of the church. Fr Bernard wrote many poems in his life, and he hopes to publish them one day. He also wrote various articles in Il-Problemi Tal-llum. I believe that God’s ways are not our ways! Sr Josette Spiteri Cremona, born in Hamrun, comes from a family of 7 children. She met the Daughters of St Paul - an Italian Congregation founded by Blessed James Alberione - in Malta even if till today there are no communities of the Daughters in Malta. One wonders how she met them. God’s ways are truly not our ways! A cousin of her brother-in-law happened to be on holiday in Malta and was looking for some young ladies to join the congregation. She visited her and showed her a film about the life of a Daughter of St Paul. Till that very moment she never had any desire to join sisterhood, but once she watched the film and saw how a Daughter of St Paul spent her life, something happened and from then on she felt a desire to become a Daughter of St Paul. At that time she was too young but she still remained in contact with the nuns and finally the day arrived for her to leave Malta and join them in England. The mission of the DSP is to spread the Word of God through the means of social communication. The congregation was founded in 1915 in Alba, Italy.  They do not teach in schools nor do they work in hospitals or in clinics are found at a radio stations or in a printing press and often in a book and media centre spreading the Word of God any means available. The founder always reminded them about the importance of their apostolate by saying, I did not train you as teachers because if you were teachers you would teach only 20, 25, 30 pupils while if you were to prepare a radio program or print books you would reach thousands in a faster way. Sr Josette joined the DSP in the 1965 in England where she spent a few years in different communities such as Slough, Sudan Chapter 9 ____________ SUDAN Chapter 9.2 ____________ DAUGHTERS OF ST PAUL
  • 62. 64 London, Birmingham and Liverpool. Her main work has been in Book and Media Centres, and in between she had to go through their formation period and therefore she also spent a few years in Italy. In 1993, Sr Josette was asked to go to Africa as a missionary. She spent few years in Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Sudan, Nigeria and back to south Sudan which meanwhile, had gained independence from the north. She feels privileged to be one of the two pioneers of the foundation of their community in Sudan. This occurred in 2008. A Kenyan nun and herself landed in Juba, Sudan on the 25th January 2008 on the feast of the conversion of St Paul. A month later, a Philippine nun joined them and six months later, an Indian nun joined the community that made it complete and possible of their mission. In most African countries, the nuns also visit different diocese with their publications besides working in book centres. They visit parishes, schools, hospitals, etc... and also organise different seminars for catechesis, teachers, religious, children and all those who normally invite them. They provide for them all different materials that they feel they need for a better future. From time to time they have to fly from one place to another as the roads are too dangerous to use and get help from the UN or other organizations. Their hope is that the roads will be fixed so that their car will be able to reach the people. I am glad and thank God for calling me to be a Daughter of St Paul and to be a missionary” Sr Josette FSP concluded. Africa Sr Teresa Maria Piscopo spent 17 years in the Sudan, in Harfu where the Christians were persecuted. As if this was not enough, there is a lot of poverty, lack of learning and many Christians, unfortunately, end up turning animists. In one of the weekly meetings that take place at Blata l-Bajda, on a certain Wednesday in 1982, Fr Borg Olivier, a Jesuit, who was a missionary in Egypt, jointly with another companion of his, gave a talk about their experience. He insisted on the fact that the Muslim President was trying to influence unduly the south of the country where the Christians were more numerous, and as such the Catholic Church wanted to react. So they called for teachers, who being teachers would find it easier to enter the country. Fr Borg Olivier told the gathering that he immediately thought of the members of the SDC, as they are trained catechists and several of them are teachers. Frans Zahra (SDC) and Joe Buttigieg (SDC) soon offered themselves to Superior General Mr Cikku Saliba (SDC), who prudently accepted the suggestion of the Jesuit priest and his companions and started the first contacts with the Sudanese Church. Mr Buttigieg and Mr Zahra obtained a visa and the required documents within a year. They were sent to the Diocese of Obeide, a diocese of 1000 square kilometres having only fifteen priests and fifteen nuns, coming from different nations. Buttigieg and Zahra were appointed to the administration of the only Catholic School which received also the seminarians of the minor seminary. They were also asked to go to Khartoum to teach English in a Language School which also Chapter 9.3 ____________ SISTERS OF CHARITY (SOC) Chapter 9.4 ____________ LAY MISSIONARIES
  • 63. 65 Sudan taught Sudanese Culture to the new missionaries. There was too a Faculty of Theology, founded by a Combonian priest, who passed on the administration into their hands. They were asked to do other things, but mostly their work consisted in teaching and administration. They entered the country on this condition. Mr Buttigieg was appointed the principal Coordinator of Catechism in Obeidi, when they returned later to that diocese. In Sudan, however, when it came to substitute persons who could not stay any longer for one reason or other, things were becoming very difficult. In a recent General Chapter, it was decided that because of these insurmountable difficulties, after fourteen years, unfortunately, the Mission in Sudan should be closed. Mr Joe Buttigieg, after spending 14 years in Sudan, acceding to the invitation of the Superior General, helped in the opening of the mission in Peru. It happened that Dun George Preca had sent a member from Australia to meet Mgr Redent Gauci, who asked him to go to Peru with him. At a later stage he was ordained priest. Since that time this member of the Museum, now priest, periodically pleaded for the Society to send other members. Mr Buttigieg and his companion departed for Peru in March 2003 and joined this Maltese priest Fr Carlos Azzopardi in Lurin. They started working in the government schools as religion teachers. Later, the Bishop, trusting their work, appointed them as Inspectors of the Oficina Diocesana de Educaçao Catolica. They developed another work. The youths had little future when coming to find a job. So the Bishop asked them to try to do something on these lines. They founded an Institute which trained the students in three careers: accounts, administration and marketing. This project is still developing and can one day be accepted by the Catholic University of Lurin. John Bason Ever since he was a child, John always admired the missionaries. He never dreamt that he would ever be one himself. The Pope’s request for volunteers on 27th May 1990, at the Granaries in Floriana, however, could not be ignored. In September of the same year, having solved all kinds of problems and surmounted many obstacles, John was on his way to Khartoum in Sudan, to teach English for one scholastic year. At first he was rather disoriented. He felt the cultural shock the minute he arrived at Khartoum International Airport. When he arrived in his mission station, he soon obtained important information about the country, the different tribes, religions, languages, and customs. He toured the College’s surroundings to get acquainted with the environment. The heat was terrible, always at an average of 40°C in the shade. The few asphalted roads in the capital’s central zone built by the British and Italians were full of potholes and craters. Sudanese persons originate from different ethnic groups. Some of them have very dark skin while others are of a lighter brown. Some dress like the Europeans whilst others wear a ‘jelabiya’ or traditional dress. There are numerous disabled persons, as a result of the civil wars and ethnic strife. Many are beggars. They call white men ‘khawadja’ meaning ‘rich’ and crowd in large numbers begging for charity. Mosques are everywhere with the chants of ‘Allah Hu Akbar’, the Muslim prayer. People kneel down on a mat or bamboo curtain, face Mecca and begin to pray – and life stops for a few minutes, a few times a day. Sudan is one of the biggest and poorest countries on the African continent. It gained independence on 1st January 1956. During the last 25 years there was an ongoing civil war between the Arab Islamic military government of the North and the coloured African tribes, the Southerners. It is only recently that the South has become a separate Republic. The country’s resources sustain the purchasing of armaments rather than raising the level of the poor. When John arrived, demonstrations were being organised regularly, and passing in front of Comboni College, where
  • 64. 66 he was serving as a teacher-volunteer. Stones were thrown at the College. He taught English in two over-crowded classes in the primary/intermediate section, and typewriting in the secondary school. The beginning was tough, but after a few weeks he got used to the work and learned to control a class of more than a hundred students! At times, he felt lonely and there was no one to support him. Pressure of work and the infernal heat used to cause tension. The students came from different origins: Arabs, Indians, Eritreans, Somalis, and from different tribes such as Dinka, Nuer, Nuba. There were also some Europeans. After Fr Grumini, the Principal, had introduced him to the class, John tried calling out their difficult names. About ten were called Muhammed or Ahmed! Eritreans and Indians also had their typical names. The Southerners had names more similar to our names in Malta. After a few weeks however, he gained their confidence. The students learnt to respect him. He could follow the syllabus with greater ease. Besides that, he succeeded to dedicate two lessons to creative teaching, by means of cassettes, letter- writing and discussions. Students waited earnestly for these lessons through which John invited them to correspond with Maltese Students. New friendships were being formed. Besides teaching and correcting test papers at the Comboni College, Jason enjoyed social work with the poor. On Fridays he accompanied a Comboni nurse, Sr Orlanda, to a station on the outskirts of Khartoum – Dar El Salaam. About 400 mothers accompanied by their children, would come to her for medicine. They used to bring their own small bottles which Jason would then rinse. With the help of some of the children, he would fill these containers with a solution of pills dissolved in distilled water. Sr Orlanda also gave them other necessary medication. He was pleasantly surprised to see some medication marked Made in Malta. The extensive help of the Maltese to the missions came quickly to his mind. On Sundays John accompanied the Comboni Priests to Africa one of the stations to celebrate Holy Mass for the Christian Southerners. They met in Banat the principal Centre from where the Comboni Priests visited nine other smaller centres in the distant villages. Holy Mass lasted two hours, characterised by traditional dancing, drums, shakers and singing. All participants had a particular smile on their face of happiness and gratitude. John concluded his contribution with these words: “How is it that their home is always open to all? How is it that they always think of others? How is it that they are always smiling and calm? They love God trustingly and accept all as coming from Providence. Must man be materially poor to be happy and trust in God? We, who have everything and have made a lot of progress, why do we always feel alone, are religiously passive, stressed out, and always want more? Who is really living well and happy?” One is justified to ask.
  • 65. 67 Tanzania 10.1 The Franciscan Friars (OFM Cap.) In 1995 Fr Sylvester Bonavia moved to Tanzania where the Capuchins had been working since 1920. He arrived on the eve when the Capuchins in that area were created in a new Province.  He was received in the town of Ruhuwiko which formed part of the diocese of Songea very far from the capital Dar-el-Salam. The pastoral activity was practically a continuation of the activity practiced in Garissa, because the area had been evangelized by the Germans for the last 60 years. During this period they established seven dioceses. Jointly with an Italian companion and with the approval of Archbishop Norbert Mtega Fr Sylvester founded the Focolar Movement. This spirituality was accepted and in 1993 they organized a Mariopoli for all Tanzania with the participation of 500 persons. From Songea the Movement flourished in neighbouring dioceses, instituting a group of about 20 seminarians whom Fr Sylvester visited on a monthly basis. They sent youths including a young couple to Rome and Loppiano to deepen their knowledge of this spirituality. Fr Sylvester thanks God for this opportunity he had to serve the Church in Kenya and Tanzania. Every missionary with his activity will be putting another stone in the building of the Church. Fr Bernard Mallia became interested in Black Africa in a strange manner. Two coloured American marines had chased him for no apparent reason and he managed to give them the slip. Since then, his interest in the people of Africa grew. He had acquired a B.A. (Hons.) in English when he was thinking of going to India. In fact Fr Arruppe SJ, the Jesuits’ General, had already suggested this to him. But at that time he was in a London Hospital undergoing an operation for brain tumour. His Provincial Fr Arthur Vella SJ dissuaded him from going to India then. When he was ordained priest, another problem cropped up: India was not granting any more visas to foreign priests, and so the Maltese Jesuits started sending their missionaries to Africa. In the sixties, there were already Fr Anton Mallia, Fr Galdes and Fr German in Uganda. They suggested to Bernard to go to East Africa. He arrived in Tanzania in 1974 where he was welcomed by a small community of Jesuit Fathers from Goa. He set himself to study Swahili and he ended up adoring the language. He was first posted as a vice parish priest to Tabora from where the explorer Livingstone once passed. After four years he was sent to the capital Dar-el-Salaam in a parish called Dodoma to substitute the parish priest. Julius Nyerere, the President, moved the capital from near the shore on the Indian Ocean where their parish Tabora was situated to Kwanga-Cha-Ndege, near a small airport. From a small parish it mushroomed into five parishes. Till then Dodoma was predominantly Protestant because the English used to divide a country in regions deciding beforehand the religion which would be encouraged in each region. When Tanzania became independent, everybody had the right to move freely. Thus the Jesuit Mission was very successful planting a primary and a secondary school with the possibility of opening a University. Chapter 10 ____________ TANZANIA Chapter 10.2 ____________ THE JESUITS (SJ)
  • 66. 68 Africa Fr Bernard admired the socialism with a human face of President Nyerere known as uljaman, which was different from the Russian communism. Nyerere was a staunch Catholic and believed in cooperatives both private and state-run. Fr Bernard states that because of the strong footing on which Nyerere placed his country, it is the only African country which has never passed through civil war. Tanzania is a place of peace. It won the problem of the ethnic differences by transferring the civil servants from one tribe to the other making them pass and serve through all the tribes. All study and speak Swahili and today, there is no tribalism which is the curse of most of the African nations. In Tanzania no ethnic group is superior to the other. Makiungu Hospital is located in a semi-desert area of Tanzania. Patients flock from near and far to get much-needed treatment. One of the greatest challenges is attracting and retaining qualified staff. Sr Maria Borda says that ‘looking for greener pastures’is a phrase they often hear. This is understandable because staff need to raise and educate their families. They want to work in places where good facilities are available and these can be difficult to provide in a rural area. Staff accommodation was needed for the two resident surgeons and a resident obstetrician. Another feature of life in Makiungu is the constant stream of visitors who provide essential services. Some – doctors, nurses, physiotherapists - visit regularly for short periods with specialist medical skills. There is a long-standing relationship with several medical schools.The students who come for placement gain valuable experience and are generous in their fundraising efforts. There are many volunteers with maintenance skills. Sr Maria says these visitors “have lifted our hearts, our standard of services, and the morale of our co-workers”. They come over long dusty roads on journeys lasting many hours. Some come by small plane to the hospital airstrip. All need to be housed and lodgings are scarce in this remote area. The answer to this accommodation predicament was provided by 31 committed people from Malta’s Mission Fund, who built a wonderful staff hostel, co-funded by the Cork-Singida Group, and other groups and individuals. Thanks to this, urgently-needed senior staff, including a dentist and a pharmacist, have come gone to stay in Makiungu. A spurt was also given to the new extension to the maternity unit, co-funded by Dr Gerard van der Leij and his team in the Netherlands. It will take the overflow of ‘at-risk’ mothers who cannot be allowed home until after delivery because of potential complications. Other volunteers installed a system for piped oxygen to all the wards and theatres. They raised EU funds to complete an environmentally-friendly biogas system for sewage disposal. The X-ray building is also being completed. “Weoftenseeastretcherbeingrushedin,accompaniedbyanxious family members. It may be a man bleeding from an accident. It may be a mother with complications of labour, who has been carried for several hours from her village. They believe that at last they have reached the place where they will get the urgent care they need. We forget our exhaustion and thank God that all systems are in place so we can provide for those who are sick the care and dignity they deserve”.Maria Borda Chapter 10.3 ____________ MEDICAL MISSIONARIES OF MARY (MMM)
  • 67. 69 Tanzania primarySchoolpupilscouldnevermanagetogotoaSecondary School as there were not enough Secondary Schools in the region of Tabora. Besides, they could not afford it. As one can imagine, this was a big disappointment for the parents as well as for these young people themselves. With the help of the White Sisters and the White Fathers, together with the encouragement and support they received from the women of this area, the Congregation started a Home Craft Centre for the school leavers. These young people had great dreams for their future. So it was up to Sr Celina Domenica to provide them with good teachers. At the Home Craft Centre they learnt how to sew, knit, take care of their little siblings, and also learnt a lot about hygiene. While they were still following their study, they started coming with clothes to be mended. Some of them started encouraging their neighbours to give them clothes that needed alterations or to be mended, making it clear that this comes at a cost. They brought their neighbours/clients’ clothes to the Home Craft centre to mend them as they had no sewing machines at home. They did not charge much for their work, but they attracted enough neighbours to keep them busy and at the same time earn some money. Most of the students managed to buy a second-hand sewing machine with the money they earned from the sewing / mending of the clothes of their neighbours! After finishing the course, they could start their own business, which helped their family financially. Some other students who were more interested in cooking than in sewing had the chance to learn how to bake scones, cakes, biscuits and doughnuts. These too managed to start their own small business. What this group needed as equipment was charcoal, metal sheets and to dig a deep hole in the sand to be used as an oven. It was amazing what a great interest the women of this village had in this Centre. It gave them hope for the future of their children. This came along with high expectations for the students. Sr Celina Domenica, MSOLA after spending a good period of her life in Malawi and Kenya, was sent to Tanzania. With an area of 945,190 Sq km, Tanzania has more than 130 tribes with different languages.There is a national language, Swahili, spoken by almost all the Tanzanians. The United Republic of Tanzania is a union of Tanganyika and the Islands of Zanzibar. Tanganyika and Zanzibar gained their independence from the British in 1961 and 1963 respectively. They united in 1964 to form Tanzania. In Tanzania Sr Celina Domenica was stationed in Tabora, the capital of Tanzania’s Tabora Region, one of the largest geographical regions of Tanzania. Today, Tabora and its people mainly rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Tabora was founded by Arab Traders in the 1850s and became a centre of the slave trade. The first Catholic evangelisation was by the Portuguese Augustinian missionaries who arrived with Vasco Da Gama in 1499 at Zanzibar. They did not last long due to Arab Moslem opposition. Their mission ended in 1698 after the Oman- Arab conquest. The Tanzanian Church with over 8,600,800 members is divided into 30 dioceses. For effective pastoral work, the church introduced a system of Small Christian Communities. The Catholic families are divided into these small communities of 12 to 20 families each. These lay communities have been instrumental in raising the self sufficiency of the local churches financially. Together with the clergy, they prepare the church programmes and the budget, including the maintenance of the clergy and the catechists and engage themselves in raising funds. In Tabora she worked with young people. The majority of the Chapter 10.4 ____________ THE MISSIONARIES OF Africa (White Fathers) AND MISSIONARY SISTERS OF OUR LADY OF Africa (White Sisters) (MSOLA)
  • 68. 70 Africa She also worked in Dar-Es-Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania, where she taught religious education in secondary schools. Here, she found the students always ready to receive her, and to learn more. Religious Education was one of their favourite subjects. They dreamt of having a Bible of their own, and they prayed the Rosary together every single day. Most of these students had deep faith which showed clearly in their daily lives, particularly in the way they tried to help one another, they respected their differences, they prayed. Their faith was alive and they related to God in a way that often left Sr Celina wondering. Mwanza Sr Celina Domenica MSOLA, spent her last five years in Mwanza, Africa. It has an urban population of 1.5 million and a metropolitan population of 2.6 million. It is Tanzania’s second largest city, following Dar-Es-Salaam. The Sukuma tribe dominates, with over 90 percent of the population. The land is primarily agricultural producing tea, cotton and coffee. The people of Mwanza have different faiths ranging from traditional practices to modern religions including Hinduism, Islam, Swaminarayan, and Christian churches including the Anglican, Roman Catholic, African Inland, Lutheran, Tanzania Mennonite, Mwanza Christian Miracle, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Evangelical, and the Seventh Day Adventist churches. Here her mission was at Shalom Centre as well as in Nyakato HIV/AIDS Outreach. Together with the team, she spent most of her days visiting people affected by HIV & AIDS. Besides moral support, they were provided with free medication and food. Sr Celina provided uniforms and school stationery to their children and made sure that when possible these children would attend school. She also visited their schools to make sure that these children were not stigmatized or discriminated by either their fellow peers or by their teachers. She tried to follow them up in their progress and encouraged them not to give up. Together with the team, she gave seminars in schools, in churches, and in other centres on behaviour change, prevention and control of HIV & AIDS Epidemic, care, discrimination, stigmatization. She involved the Small Christian Communities in this delicate pastoral work, and she was amazed how dedicated and caring these Christian Communities were towards the sick people. On the request of the people of Nyakato (Mwanza) she asked Mission Fund, a Maltese organisation to build a Primary School. For two consecutive years Mission Fund volunteers went to build and furnish a big English Primary School with fourteen big classrooms and an administrative block, all for the poor families. This school was really needed in this village as schools are few and far between in Nyakato. For the children who were infected/affected by HIV/AIDS it was just impossible to go to school. Sr Celina says that this project of the Maltese Mission Fund has crowned her Missionary experience. With their presence, their great love and dedication, these volunteers left behind them a witness of love that the people of Nyakato can never forget. Wherever they are, the Congregation of the White Sisters has always contributed highly in the social sector. From the start of their Evangelisation in Africa in 1869 their aim has always been to better both education and health services. This can be seen by the several hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, and also Mission Schools in most of their Missions. Now Sr Celina is based in London. Although she is no longer in Africa, she still works as a Missionary nun. She works with OXFAM and in the Night Shelter for the Homeless. Both at OXFAM and in the Night Shelter she works as a volunteer. At OXFAM she works mainly in one of the Charity Shops where all the money they earn goes to the third world countries, especially Africa. Sr Marion Carabott had always had a great interest in other countries, and particularly in developing countries, The Mission Countries. She ardently read the magazine of the so
  • 69. 71 Tanzania called White Sisters congregation which she received from a nun, and contributed in her small way to the Missions. When she finished University she worked as a pharmacist and secondary school science teacher for five years. Then in 1960 she decided to join the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa. She had a special love for Africa and its peoples, and great interest in the work of their founder Cardinal Lavigerie. The nuns had left Malta in the spring of that year so she had to leave Malta for UK to become an MSOLA (Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa). She underwent her postulate and noviciate in Holmwood, Surrey. At the end of this formation period she was sent to Kashozi in Northern Tanzania – then still known as Tanganyika. She was very happy to work in Bukoba diocese where the head was Cardinal Rugambwa, the first African cardinal. She started teaching English in a school run by her congregation but was later transferred to boys’ school in Ihungo in a college run by the Brothers of Christian Instruction, to teach Physics. At that time women could not teach in boys’ secondary schools so the diocese had to apply to Rome to get a special dispensation which was granted. The local population spoke Ki-haya and Sr Carabott had to study and sit for an exam in Ki-Swahili as it was the national language of the country and one could not teach without a certificate to show that one could communicate in this language. She was delighted in discovering the rich culture of the Haya tribe. To her dismay she had to return to Europe for her Juniorate – a period of doctrinal and theological studies at the Studium, run by Dominicans in Toulouse, France. Terminating her Juniorate, she followed a catechetical year at Corpus Christi, in London. These years of study were followed by many years during which she was involved in Formation as novice mistress in Fribourg in Switzerland, Motherwell in Scotland, Toulouse in France and Bukavu in the Congo (then Zaire). In 1975 she was sent to the General Chapter and was then elected as a member of the General Administration first as Assistant and then as Superior General. Her stay at the Generalate in Frascati, near Rome, lasted twelve years. It was a very enriching period, during which there was a lot of travelling to be done. It gave her the opportunity of visiting all the nuns and Missions dispersed in seventeen countries in Africa. It was wonderful to see such contrasting scenes, so many different cultures and languages in this extraordinary continent. Unfortunately many countries were going through difficult situations because of conflicts and famines. She admired the nuns for their courage and perseverance in trying to support the people in difficult situations and the endurance and resilience of the African people whose wealth was being exploited by the richer countries. When Sr Carmen Sammut and Sr Marion Carabott participated in the activities of the missionary week that preceded Mission Sunday in October 2009, they were moved to see how interested the people of Malta were in missionary activities. The commitment of many missionary organizations in these small islands proves that there is a real apostolic spirit in the heart of many, despite the increasing materialism and consumerism of recent years. Cardinal Lavigerie had probably felt that the faith was very much alive in Malta in his days. The mild climate might also have been another reason that made him choose Malta for a project that took a long time to mature. He founded the Missionaries ofAfrica (White Fathers) and Missionary Sisters of Our LadyofAfrica (WhiteSisters) buthewasstillconvinced that the lasting work must be accomplished by Africans when they, themselves, become Christians and Apostles. In 1876 he founded, in Carthage, Tunisia, an institute to Chapter 10.5 ____________ MALTA AND CARDINAL LAVIGERIE
  • 70. 72 accommodate young slaves purchased by the Missionaries of Africa. His plan was to train these young Africans who had been freed from slavery to become medical catechists. The idea was that when these young people would return to Africa after their training, they would exercise their medical profession and radiate their faith to those they came in contact with.ACatholic Medical School already existed in Malta since 1674. In 1881, sixteen young freed slaves arrived in Malta as students. Others were sent later on. Cardinal Lavigerie himself visited Malta. Some students received a basic education, whereas others followed courses at the Faculty of Medicine. When Bishop Livinhac left to go to Rome to become Vicar General, he was accompanied by fourteen young Africans. Cardinal Lavigerie accompanied them to an audience with Pope Leo XIII. Six of these students became Brothers with the Missionaries ofAfrica after their return to Uganda. Unfortunately, one of them died on the way back to Uganda in September 1894. Among students who completed their medical studies, there was DrAdrianAttiman. He is best known for the outstanding work he did in his country, Tanganyika. When he finished his training, he and his companions had the joy of attending, in Paris, the consecration of the future Apostolic Delegate, Bishop Bridoux. It was Cardinal Lavigerie who consecrated him. He then gave a moving lecture on the horrors of the slave trade as it was practiced in CentralAfrica. On July 16 1888 Adrian Attiman left Marseilles in the company of Bishop Bridoux and several Missionaries of Africa. After a thirty days’ journey, they arrived at Zanzibar. The missionaries then started travelling on foot with local people who were hired to carry things on the way. This was called a ‘caravan’, and it was the only way to travel in that country in those days. At Mpwapwa they met a caravan of slaves. Many of them suffered from smallpox and dysentery. Adrian was much moved at the sight of so much misery and he realised how lucky he had been when ransomed from slavery, educated by the missionaries and then becoming a doctor and catechist. He expressed his Africa gratitude by giving himself fully to the task of helping his brothers, not only physically but also by sharing the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, the One who came to set captives free and to give new life to all, without any distinction of race or colour. Adrian arrived in Karema (Tanganyika) six months after the departure from  Marseille. It was his first  mission and  he immediately began to treat the population and to teach catechism to the children. His attitude towards them, his behaviour and dedication revealed to those around him that it was the love of Christ that motivated him and not mere philanthropic reasons. His presence had a profound impact on the population. In1882he married Agnes Wamseila,who camefroma pagan tribe. He hoped that members of this tribe would become interested in Christianity. The following year, he had a son named Joseph, who later became a priest. The project of Cardinal Lavigerie to educate young Africans in Malta ended in 1896. The ties between Malta and the Lavigerie family, however, did not end there. In 1957 a community of Missionary Sisters of Our Lady ofAfrica opened in Sliema under the patronage of St Paul. One of the nuns who formed part of this community was Sr Mary Galea (Sr Xavier), daughter ofAlphonse Maria Galea. Her aunt was one of the first Maltese young women to join the Congregation. The goal of this community was the training of young nuns at Mater Admirabilis College before their departure forAfrica. The nuns managed to make some good contacts during their stay in Malta but the community was closed in the spring of 1960 because the training of young nuns was then transferred to Liverpool. During the year 2010 Pope Benedict XIV visited Malta to celebrate the 1950th anniversary of the shipwreck of St. Paul on the island. May the missionary spirit which animated the great apostle continue to inflame the hearts of many Maltese with the love of Christ and His Good News!
  • 71. 73 Brazil 11.1 Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) Sr Irene Balzan is a member of the Medical Missionaries of MaryCongregation.ThefounderoftheMMM, SrMarieHelen Martin, was Irish, but was inspired to found her Congregation when she was practising her profession in Malta during the First World War. At that time it was not permitted within the Church for a religious to practice the medical profession. Sr Irene had to wait till 1937 for the Church to allow her to found her Congregation – the MMM – when she opened her first clinic in Nigeria. As a teenager, Sr Irene had come across an announcement abouttheMedicalMissionariesofMaryintheEnglishCatholic weekly, The Universe. She became instantly interested, because she always felt a deep desire to go out of her country and experience the heartbeat of the world especially in third world countries. She studied nursing at the University of Malta and after eight years she joined the Congregation. She felt the pangs of Part Three WEST AFRICA Chapter 11 ____________ BENIN
  • 72. 74 Africa separation from her family so much that for a good period of time she did not even have the courage to exhibit the photos of her family and relatives and friends in her room. The emblem of the Congregation depicts Mary and her cousin Elizabeth embracing each other. The mission of the Congregation is to help the patients in their psychological, emotional and spiritual suffering and to deal with people who had traumatic experiences. The Congregation serves in East and West Africa in countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria, Angola, and Benin,inHondurasinCentralAmericaandinBrazil.InEurope it has houses in Ireland and the UK. To join the Congregation one need not be a nurse or a doctor. The Congregation runs various hospitals so that other professions are needed. Sr Irene was sent to Masaka where she worked in a mobile clinic facing tens of deaths every day. They used to visit the villages, very often taking six hours to reach their destination. They used to take medicines and food with them. Trained helpers from the villages used to prepare the people for their arrival. Sr Irene relates that in a particular village she met a great grandmother caring for thirty children because their mothers had all died through AIDS. It was quite a shock to find never ending files of very young persons all sick with AIDS. One felt overwhelmed and helpless. The hospital had 150 beds, receiving an average of 5 patients a day with AIDS. But since the nuns worked in a small group, a community of seven nuns, at night they used to talk and discuss and so be of help to one another. Wherever Sr Irene worked, whether in Uganda, Nigeria or Benin, things improved through the awareness campaigns which used to be organised on a national scale. The people co- operated and the HIV incidence tended to fall. Before these campaigns there was great lack of information on how the virus spreads. After two years in Uganda, Sr Irene was sent to Ikotekpeni in Nigeria, where she served in the Labour Ward of St. Mary´s Hospital and gained the nickname of belonging to the Tribe of Jesus. After four years she was sent to the diocese of Dassazume in the Republic of Benin, where she was responsible for a clinic that received 8000 patients a year. Sr Irene found the people of Benin calm and a quiet. She embarked on this mission in Benin in the year 2000, and she served until 2012. She has recently been re-appointed to South Sudan. Sr Maria Borda: Our mission at Zaffé is a health centre in a rural village, about three hours’ drive north from Cotonou. There are six MMM Nunsin our community at Zaffé, including Sr Jacinta Lumenze, pictured above during one of the many nutrition demonstrations held in outlying villages. Zaffé is our ‘Millennium Mission’, founded in the year 2000 by our first all-African team of MMM nuns. The village of Zaffé, is in the Diocese of Dassa-Zoumé in this small west- African republic. The population is made up of four main ethno-linguistic groups: Fon, Yoruba, Voltaic and Fulani. The health services began when a group of volunteers was trained to work among their people in surrounding villages. In the first year, 4,850 patients were seen at the new Health Centre, almost 60% of these being children. Respiratory infections, malaria, anaemia and diarrhoeal diseases were the most common problems, but sexually transmitted diseases were believed to be on the increase. At the antenatal clinics, 116 women registered, and topics such as hygiene, diet and exercise were discussed, as well as the physical monitoring of the mothers-to-be. Today, the numbers attending the health centre and maternity unit have increased. At the request of the local people, the Nunshave extended the work to include a model farm and an ambitious programme to train young farmers to improve their income through better farm practices.    From the beginning, the local people embraced us warmly, workingwithuseverystepofthewaytoachieveavibranthealth centreandagrowingoutreachofservicestosurroundingvillages.
  • 73. 75 Ghana As well as providing health care, this mission is a model of close cooperation with the local farmers in improving nutrition levels among the people. 12.1 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) In spring 1937, Fr McCoy asked for the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary to go to Jirapa in Ghana. They arrived in 1939 and on May 21st, moved into a regular convent which the White Fathers had vacated when they had moved to a building on the other side of the church square. Each member of the community began to study the language. From the very first days they went to a dispensary and day-nursery. Visits to the small leper-camp were also begun immediately. In 1940, a maternity centre was built and a school started in the former church. Ten years later the government presented an ambulance for health visits in the surrounding areas and subsidised the building of a hospital, which was completed in 1955. Here a second community in Jirapa was founded. Soon a school of mid-wifery and nursing was added to the hospital and the FMM were put in charge of the moral and practical training. In 1963 a third foundation was entrusted to the FMM, the St Francis Secondary School which had 96 boarders. Soon vocations started coming and in 1964 the novitiate was moved to Tumu. Their nuns in Tamale started a kindergarten in 1965. Another foundation was in Accra. Twenty-three Ghanaian Franciscan Missionaries of Mary are active and deeply convinced witnesses that, one day, God passed through Jirapa, and that He is always acting. Sr Doris Sammut spent fourteen years in a mission characterised by movement and coloured by the enthusiasm that working with children and young people brings about. Sr Doris started off in Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana, where she worked in a Kindergarten of about 150 little ones run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. The children were beautiful and Sr Doris felt very much at home with them, having been a teacher before she left Malta. Yet, the hot dry Chapter 12 ____________ GHANA
  • 74. 76 Africa climate of the area didn’t feel so welcoming. However, “The Lord never led me where His grace couldn’t hold me”. Sr Doris went as a young religious, not having yet made her final profession. Being young, she mingled very well with the young Ghanaian nuns who welcomed her and introduced her gently to their culture, their food, and their festivals, which were very different to what we know. The weather being so dry, there were times when she travelled the dirt roads between two columns of fire, as the bush was burning, and this in search of water. Aside from the Catholic Faith, which was practiced and shared by the nuns, there were other local religions, for which rituals sometimes Sr Doris attended. They were not always pleasant to be at, yet it was beneficial to know what was going on around them, in order to be able to understand and help the people they were working with. The Kindergarten did not work in isolation. The nuns were working with whole families, especially through the mothers who brought the children to school. After spending twenty-one years in Malta serving mainly in Education, Sr Carmelina Pace was graced with the gift of a mission experience in the Ghana/Liberia Province. This happened between the years 1980-1991. During her first year, she was given the chance to learn the culture and to visit the FMM communities in different parts of Ghana. She was then assigned to the Novitiate community in Tamale, where her job was to head the FMM International Kindergarten close to St Gabriel’s Community. Besides the school apostolate, Sr Carmelina was involved in the Parish Council and the Legion of Mary. Her work with the parents of the 300 children between the ages of three and five helped her to better understand the local culture. The Archbishop, the late Cardinal Peter P. Dery surprised her with a wonderful gift of Montessori Apparatus which she received from Holland. Being a Montessori teacher this sensorial apparatus helped her very much in her work. After ten years, she handed over the Kindergarten to Sr Pauline Bodi, a Ghanaian, who had studied in Canada to prepare to head the school. Sr Carmelina was then assigned to work in the newly- established Centre of Hope. Its mission was to meet the immediate needs of those who called. This was a new experience for her and a very enriching one. Unfortunately it lasted only one and a half years as she was called back to Mala to work in the FMM Primary school. Sr Carmelina concluded as follows: “I thank God for this wonderful experience in West Africa. May God Bless Our Homeland Ghana”! Soon after her Final Profession, Sr Yvonne Gera was sent to Ghana where she was theAccountant of the Hospital of Jirapa. After a few months she was sent to Senegal where she was needed as secretary of a new Association of Church Clinics. Sr Salvina Farrugia left Malta to join the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in Surrey, UK, on the 10th May 1965. After the Novitiate she spent a number of years in London training for her future missionary life in Africa. She was sent to Ghana, West Africa on the 25th January 1972. She was very warmly welcomed by the Diocese of Wa in the person of the Rt. Rev. Bishop Poreku Derry, who at that time was implementing the recommendations of Vatican II. She herself believes that she was very lucky to have been sent to such a dynamic, lively and vibrant local church. In her ministry she was involved in many different projects, based on the needs of the people. These included Catechetic, social work, formation of women leaders and small self-help projects for both men and women. She worked mostly with groups of Christian and Muslim women and their families. She spent her 26 yrs of missionary life in Ghana among the Daagare and the Dagomba tribes in the Upper and Northern Regions respectively. Chapter 12.2 ____________ MISSIONARY SISTER OF OUR LADY OF AF- RICA (MSOLA)
  • 75. 77 Liberia Chapter 13 ____________ LIBERIA Chapter 13.1 ____________ FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES OF MARY (FMM) “It was a life-giving experience to work with and for Ghanaians. They were very happy people so eager to learn and share so much with me……..Indeed I have received from them much more than I have given,” she writes. On the 1st April 1998, she returned to London where she worked with a small community whose main service was to welcome nuns, coming from Africa for studies, for medical needs or for a rest. The Republic of Liberia, the oldest State of Black Africa, bears on its coat of arms: The love of liberty brought us here. This country, born of the great immigration movement which, between 1821 and 1860, brought some 15,000 descendants of slaves back from the United States - Africans by blood and Americans by history - has kept its own unique character. Liberia is a small country with 1,900,000 inhabitants, on the west coast between Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast. There were few Catholics among the first groups that returned to Africa, and these were very isolated. President Johnson himself, in the name of the Liberian government, asked the Pope in 1880 to send missionaries. But it was only in 1906 that the Catholic Church in Liberia could begin to take root under more favourable circumstances. In 1932, since literacy was at a very low level, schools seemed to be a priority. At that time there were no religious women in the two vicariates of the Catholic Church. Then the Apostolic Prefect of Liberia asked the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) to go to Liberia to fill in this spiritual blank. There was work among the sick, the children, the young girls and the women. The first foundation was in Monrovia where a school, a boarding school and a hospital were established. Later there were three other foundations in the interior of the country where other activities flourished. Among the nuns who worked in Liberia was Sr Doris Sammut. After seven months in Ghana, Sr Doris was sent to Liberia to work in a Primary school, from Kinder to Year VI of about 500 kids in all. She took it upon herself to teach Religious Education in a good number of classes. With the Parish Priest,
  • 76. 78 she visited people in the surrounding remote villages where they taught catechism, celebrated the Liturgy, buried the dead and did a hundred and one other odd jobs. The main Town was called Gbarnga. On the compound, aside from the nuns’ house, there was the Parish church. About 100 metres away stood a Pastoral Centre. Here the nuns helped with the programmes that were going on, including family planning and the formation of Christian leaders. The seminary was not far, either, and from their community a couple of nuns taught there too. The nuns had excellent relations with both staff and seminarians, some of whom, now ordained priests, still appreciate their support and friendship. Not long after Sr Doris had arrived in this mission, she was appointed as school administrator. Most of the students could not afford to pay fees but somehow she always managed to make both ends meet. Her next move was to a place called Yekepa, further north, below an iron-ore mountain range. Beautiful scenery, yet poverty still reigned in the local homes, with the exception of a few number of men and women who worked for the iron- ore company. The villages around were much worse and yet a good number of the students came to the Church Schools from these areas. Here Sr Doris led St Joseph’s Primary School and helped as dean of the Girls High School led by the Christian Brothers. It was from here that she branched out into working with young girls outside the school system. At this stage she moved to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, which is much more humid, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. She travelled from Parish to Parish, about seven of them, where she and other nuns founded what was named a Better future Club. They met in groups in or around the churches’ verandas on different days. Different people, proficient in different areas, helped Sr Doris with the teaching of various skills, helping the girls acquire abilities to earn a decent living and care for themselves. Africa The art of Christian living was a priority, followed by handcrafts, beauty, hairdressing, cooking, sewing, tie- dying. A number of Christian women helped out and funds were supplied by foreign organisations and communities on demand. Working apparatus and materials were bought and as they produced, they held sales of their products and thus the economic wheel kept turning. The big blow came when the country found itself in turmoil through riots and civil war. However, in spite of all the negative elements, all did not go to waste. What had been learnt was used to the benefit of those young women and their families and ultimately for the good of the country itself. In Liberia the nuns also ran a hostel for girls who had no roof over their head, as they came from far away villages. A home economics centre for women including a coffee farm and a coffee shop were established. A mobile clinic visited villages instructing mothers-to-be in the safe delivery of babies, teaching primary health education. Many sick people also flocked to the central clinic where they were treated by the nuns. “I rejoice for having given that much to benefit society, and to continue to be a missionary right now, as that is my life’s vocation, to continue to work for the Kingdom wherever the Lord, through my community, sees fit to send me”, Sr Doris Sammut writes. Sr Ersilia Abela spent 16 years in Monrovia the capital of Liberia. For the first eight years she was Principal of St. Theresa’s Convent High School, the only school in the country for girls only. All the other schools were co-ed. During this time, she was also involved in the Prison Ministry. Every Saturday, she used to go to the Central Prison, with Fr James Byrne SMA. There she helped the prisoners to participate at Mass, gave a Catechism lesson to a group of 25 murderers and later she contacted their families. There were 800 men. At two different stages Sr Ersilia and the priest prepared for death seven and later three prisoners who were to be beheaded. On
  • 77. 79 one occasion they saved one person from being beheaded by collecting signatures in a petition for clemency. During the other eight years she was in the Administration, together with an Australian and an African FMM, of the Archdiocesan and Pastoral Retreat Centre of Monrovia. They worked as a Team and saw spirituality in Liberia flourishing. Here, too, Sr Ersilia worked with a Marriage Counselling Team, her part being that of Liaison Officer and Spirituality. During this period she also taught Christian Morality and Business English at Don Bosco Polytechnic. During those 16 years she was involved in other works: Spiritual Directress of all the Legion of Mary in Liberia; Catechist, Retreats, Y.C.S. She was also involved in many committees both of the Church and of the State, e.g. Examiner of National Exams, preparation of syllabi and textbooks. She was also Executive Officer for the national High Schools Principals’Association. Several nuns of the FMM had discussed the possibility of helping in Senegal with Bishop Lefebre and by 1948, four of them moved to Dakar to help as nurses. Eventually others followed their footsteps. Sr Frances Farrugia arrived in Liberia in 1951 as a young professed. She was assigned first as a Kindergarten teacher at St Theresa’s Convent and then as a nurse at the Institution clinic. When the clinic closed she returned as a teacher. She was known for the care she had for abandoned people. Every week she distributed food and clothes issued by St Theresa’s Convent, quietly and away from the public eye. She also visited elderly people in Monrovia. She did all the food shopping and spent her time listening to the stories of the women selling fruits and vegetables outside Abidjourdie supermarket.  She comforted them with words of encouragement.  If there was anyone in need of real help, she did all that she could. She used to share these stories with her Sisters. She was very generous with her time and talents; always ready Liberia to help, whatever the need was. She was a true FMM. She always prayed that the Lord would give her the grace to die in Liberia – a wish God granted her, as she died tragically in a car accident in April 1974 while she was going to another FMM house to celebrate her 50th Birthday and the 25th anniversary of her religious life.
  • 78. 80 Africa 14.1 The Salesians (SDB) Fr Richard Ebejer finds Africa a most interesting experience! It challenges one’s concepts and assumptions. The world and life itself are seen differently after seven years working in Africa. What brought Fr Ebejer to Africa was his initial experience of working with immigrants while still in Malta. What got him involved were the children. He was shocked to hear that children as young as three were being locked up in army barracks, deprived of their freedom. The first wave of migrants from Eritrea had come to Malta in 2003 and whole groups of families were locked up. He was especially upset for the children, for they had a right to have a childhood like any other kid. At the time, he was Director of the Salesian Junior Oratory in Sliema and managed to get permission to take the children for an outing. Eventually they were allowed to go out daily for the Summer Camp at the Salesians in Sliema, transported in Army vehicles to the Oratory. The youth and teenagers of the youth centre and the Oratory responded marvellously. As Salesians they firmly believed that the best gift they could give to these children was happy memories of their childhood days. The boats kept coming and their number kept increasing, and so were the problems, the emotions, the arguments and letters in the media. No matter how much rhetoric was being used, Fr Ebejer realised that the issue had to be addressed at its source. So when a proposal was made to him to go to West Africa and help for a number of years in the formation of the young Salesian confreres in formation, Fr Ebejer was quick to accept. He was first sent to Ondo in Nigeria. Nigeria is a big country. Its biggest asset is the large number of young people. With a population of more than 140 million, some statistics even claim that more than 50% are under the age of twenty five. Ondo is about three hour drive from Lagos - the economic centre of Nigeria. The Salesians run a Technical School for 350 students, as well as a Youth Centre and a Parish. The Salesians are in contact with a number of large industries with whom their pupils are eventually employed. The companies are now not only getting well-trained workers, but also ones who have been given a good foundation in moral values. This is considered to be an important asset. It is ironic that the areas which produce most oil and wealth for the country are the areas least developed. This is one of the reasons why so many youths wish to leave the country and look for a brighter Chapter 14 ____________ NIGERIA
  • 79. 81 Nigeria future elsewhere. When Fr Ebejer arrived in the community of Ondo, he was given the responsibility to look after the pre-novices. Up to then, the pre-novices and Novices were housed together. This at times created problems in their formation programme, especially when it came to discernment. The decision was taken to separate the two programmes, with the novices migrating to Ghana to the new novitiate. The number of Catholics is quite high in the South and especially the East of Nigeria. There the Church is growing very fast. In all, the Salesians have eleven houses in the Province of West Africa which is made up of Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Salesian Fathers are now present in 43 countries in Africa alone. There is no lack of vocations. At present, about eighty Salesian students are preparing to become a Priest or Brother - the biggest expense of the Province at the moment. But preparing these young men to continue the work as Salesian Priests and Salesian Brothers is in fact the biggest investment for the Church. Nigeria’s biggest resource has proved to be its biggest curse. The Oil industry brings in millions of dollars to the country and it is a source of revenue which has made so many things possible, like the building of a totally new modern capital city, Abuja. But it has also opened the way for corruption and the neglect of the traditional industries of the country, such as coco and palm oil, from which the people at large benefited. The oil money does not reach the people and the infrastructure of the country is in a state of neglect. The electrical supply is very unstable, with power cuts being a daily occurrence. The main highway to the east which connects a quarter of the population with Lagos, is in a state of disrepair. Broken down trucks or overturned lorries are a common site on the road. Many primary schools are rudimentary at their best. Yet there is great potential in the country. Fr Ebejer has found that those Nigerians who have access to a good basic education are very bright and much alert. Victoria Island in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt amongst others, are quite modern. Many years of military rule back in the 1970s and 1980s were a great setback to the country. However, recently Nigeria passed the test in having the first peaceful transition of power. There have been many who contested the results but resorts to the law courts are being made. Though most Nigerians are too poor to travel, there is a significant proportion that is rich enough to travel regularly. Many travel to further their studies in Britain, for medical treatment or because of family connections. Others who are poor but know enough of the world, aspire to go abroad to make a better life, and once they leave they will not return unless they have been successful. To return empty handed is a cause of shame. Others who are bright and cannot find a job, turn to fraud, especially on the internet, for which Nigeria is notorious.
  • 80. 82 Sr Yvonne Gera after few months in Ghana, was asked to join the other nuns in Senegal where the Church was about to create an Association of the Church Clinics and she was asked to be the secretary and the co-ordinator of these clinics. The Church was urged to have this Association in order to be recognised by the Government as of Public Utility and so would be able to buy medicines from the government, receive parcels with medicines from Europe and America without paying any duty and be able to have a Bank Account in the name of the Association and receive all donations directly. When Sr Yvonne arrived in Senegal, there were 54 Clinics of different congregations. Most of them had a centre for children who were undernourished and a Mother and Child care centre. As a secretary, Sr Yvonne had the duty to keep in touch with all these movements and benefactors, and to send reports to show how the money was being used and medicine distributed. While the clinics and centres were free of charge, the institution accepted what the mothers could offer: eggs, couscous to feed the children in the centres. The community organised seminars of formation for the helpers and nurses, hoping that one day they would be able to take over the nuns’ works. The nuns were conscious one day they would have to leave Senegal. Sr Yvonne visited the clinics all over Senegal regularly. Later on, Mauritania joined the Association. Although her work was not easy, she was very happy as more people had access to treatments and medicines while being respected in their dignity. At the end of her stay in Senegal in 1979, there were 74 clinics, 70 centres for undernourished children and 68 Mother and Child care centres. Several of these clinics were mobile clinics that went to different localities to reach more people. Africa 15.1 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) Among these was Sr Victoria Vella who was stationed in Dakar, Capital of Senegal. In the main house the community had a nursery for about 50 to 60 abandoned children. Usually these children were either taken back by the families or adopted. The population of Senegal was poor but very kind hearted. The nuns were and are still much loved and respected by the population. In the same house the community had a Hostel for girls of 16 to 19 years of age who came from different villages and who did not have the chance of going to school. The nuns took care of 16 girls and these were boarders. They were given courses in First Aid, Domestic economics, cooking, sewing, embroidery. Besides, these girls helped in the nursery and so learnt how to take care of children. The objective was that when they left the nuns, they could take care of a family of their own. Sr Victoria also helped in the Parish. She gave catechism classes for children who were preparing themselves for First Holy Communion. She also had catechumen groups and other adult groups who wished to become Catholics. The courses took 3 years and Sr Victoria took great pains to prepare them well for the Sacraments. She also used to help University Students who were financially poor, photocopying books for them. Her biggest joy was Easter Night when the Catechumens received Baptism and First Holy Communion, and Pentecost Sunday when they received the Sacrament of Confirmation. “I will never forget my experience in Senegal. There are many Local Religious today which was above all our aim that they can replace us. I wish to say that I gave them a lot but I received much more from the Senegalese,” Sr Victoria writes. Chapter 15 ____________ SENEGAL
  • 81. 83 people in the camp, talking with the people, hearing the people seeing to their needs. The vulnerable are identified. These people build a strong relationship going beyond a shirt or food or medicine. He finds his strength in seeing Jesuits, men and women of different nationalities inspired with the same ideal to help the weakest. Fr Calleja says people come to JRS with ‘deeper human needs’ that transcend material needs. The mission of Jesuit Refugee Service is to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and internally displaced people, a vulnerable and often forgotten people.  JRS witnesses to the reality that God is present in human history, even in the most tragic experiences of persons driven from their homes by conflict, natural disaster, economic injustice, or violation of other human rights. Last refugees to repatriate from Tanzania Fr Calleja SJ has witnessed the last of more than 500,000 refugees who fled violent civil war in Burundi in the 1990s returning home, bringing the massive repatriation process to an end. The refugees, who fled to Tanzania, were repatriated as a part of an agreement signed by the UN agency for refugees 16.1 The Jesuits (SJ) Fr Tony Calleja, as head of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Burundi describes living in a refugee camp and what distinguishes the work of the JRS. “The JRS is a service by people who serve in a very professional way and also common way”. Other NGOs can do good work. Some of them are professionals. They do it very well, extremely well in fact. But they regret that they cannot devote all their time with them. The JRS has been doing a good job for the last 28 years. They stay with the people, they hear them say what they need, listen to their stories, be one of them. People are selected, but once selected they are trusted to do their best for the refugees. They will spend time with them, to hear stories, and the JRS get an image of the reality of a refugee camp. Fr Tony Calleja, as head of the JRS in Burundi has firsthand experience of the refugees. At present there are three or four Part Four CENTRALAFRICA Chapter 16 ____________ BURUNDI
  • 82. 84 (UNHCR) and the governments of Burundi and Tanzania. The agreement established the closure of the last Tanzanian refugee camp, hosting 38,000 Burundians, on 31 December 2011. Repatriation is a delicate step in the lives of returnees. After spending years receiving food assistance and basic services, they come back home to a country where they lost everything: house, land, and livelihood. At times many of them do not feel welcome in their own country and local communities look at them as foreigners, even though they were born and grew up in those villages. No wonder, refugees are resisting repatriation because they fear poor living conditions and security problems in Burundi, although where organisations have intervened the situation has improved significantly. Since 2007, JRS has accompanied 13,000 Burundian returnee-families back home, helping them rebuild their lives from scratch and reintegrate into local communities. The Jesuit organisation seeks to promote the socio-economic reintegration of former refugees and their reconciliation with local communities. The role of the JRS is to promote durable solutions for the long-term development of the refugees. The largest programmes managed by JRS are food security projects in Muyinga and Rutana provinces, in eastern Burundi, close to the border with Tanzania. The programmes provide beneficiaries from the returnee and local communities with agriculture and husbandry skills. The inclusion of the local community is designed to prevent tensions between the two groups. Africa 17.1 Sisters of Charity (SOC) On reaching Rome after 11 years in Laos, Sr Maria Salvina Grech was asked by the Superior General whether she was ready to go to Chad inAfrica. The invitation filled her with joy, because it meant that God really wanted her to be a missionary amongst the poor. In October 1976 she left for Chad. There she was invited to teach in the school of the Jesuits, which she did for 28 long years. All this time, she was the only Maltese there. Apart from teaching at school, she used to prepare young boys and girls for Baptism, which gave her so much consolation. There were occasions, when she prepared as many as 120 children for Baptism. In Chad the children were poorer than in Laos. During the summer months, she used to invent all sorts of little jobs for them, to help them earn enough money, which helped them to cover their school fees. In this way, they learnt that money does not grow on trees. They had to work to gain their living. After 28 years teaching with the Jesuits, she was sent to another convent to open a boarding school for the students who lived in far off villages. Every year, they received 20 girls, between 12 and 18 years of age. Sr Maria Salvina spent four years on this mission and she realized how eager these youths were to study. She helped them strengthen their faith and she prepared them for the future. On the 8th of March, Woman’s Day, the Superior called her informing her that they had an invitation from an English- speaking Diocese in Cameroon. Sr Maria Salvina was getting on in years, but her enthusiasm never flagged and she gladly accepted. On October 2008, together with two other nuns, she left for Cameroon in West Africa. Arriving in Bemenda, the principal town of the diocese, they stayed in the town for a while. Chapter 17 ____________ CHAD
  • 83. 85 18.1 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) The nuns arrived in July 1910.Three dioceses were established in Congo in 1955: Brazzaville, Pointe Noire and Owando. The first Congolese bishop, Bishop Theophile Mbemba, was named in 1961. Bishop Emile Biayenda was created Cardinal on March 5th, 1973. From that time on the whole hierarchy has been Congolese. When the first six nunsarrived after sailing for 12 days with Bishop Augouard, they found an enthusiastic welcome at Boundji. Little girls danced with joy at having the nuns at last. A house was ready to receive them and at once the Lord was present with them. Fr Prat, the parish priest of Boundji, welcomed their help in the school and dispensary, and the catechumenate made good progress. The women remain eighteen months in the catechumenate, a precious time for their formation, but it requires a constant presence and total devotedness on the part of the nuns. Other works followed. FMM Congolese vocations flourished since then. Sr Rose Casapinta was sent to Congo with two other nuns. It was also a hard time, as they had to get used to the Culture and language of these people. The three of them were sent to different hospitals in the Bush, where primitive people lived. It was extremely hard, yet they were happy to help. After some years in the Missions the nuns had the chance to visit their family in their country. So Sr Rose visited Malta. She was then asked to go to Libya with the Lepers. Congo Eventually they were sent to a village, together with their Provincial. It was a celebration for the village, the first time that the villagers were receiving a community of nuns, in this remote village forgotten by everybody except by God. The community consisted of three and sometimes four nuns. As a result they provided a big help in the hospital, in the school and in the parish. Sr Maria Salvina realized that they were making the people happy, which after all was God’s will! Chapter 18 ____________ CONGO
  • 84. 86 Africa Sr Carmela Deguara discovered her vocation to join the Society of the Sacred Heart during her studies at Mater Admirabilis Training College for teachers in St Julian’s. She was torn between two options: either the purely contemplative or the missionary life. The Society of the Sacred Heart which was an enclosed order at that time with a wide missionary outlook seemed to answer both her desires. In September 1954, in spite of much resistance and after a long discernment, she entered the novitiate in Woldingham, Surrey. She knew from the start that she was in the right place and never looked back. In August 1964 the Superior General asked her to serve in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). The country was going through a very turbulent time with terrible stories of rape and massacres. A few days after her arrival, the local superior spoke to her about her anxiety over the wellbeing of her religious. She was seriously thinking of sending the younger religious back to Europe for safety. Sr Deguara told the superior that she wasn’t afraid. It was a very difficult and dangerous time for all religious, but God saw them safely through it all. Duringherfirstyear,SrDeguarawasassignedaclassof10year olds at the Institut Catholique du Sacre-Coeur, Kimwenza, a Catholic state-aided boarding school. One of those girls is now serving her second mandate as Provincial Superior. The teaching was done in French according to the Belgian system of education. Their school was open for both Catholics and non-Catholics some of whom asked for Baptism. After a year, she was named head of the whole school with students ranging from 5 to 18 years old. Her teacher training at Mater Admirabilis College and Digby-Stuart College, as well as her teaching experience qualified her for the post. The students did very well at external examinations and the Chapter 18.2 ____________ SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS (RSCJ) majority passed on to university studies either locally or abroad. A few went into politics, playing a very important part in women’s emancipation. Practically all the teaching staff in the secondary school was Belgian, wives of professors or doctors working at Louvanium University Hospital close by. Being head of a big boarding school was very demanding but Sr Deguara was very happy in her ministry. The girls were obliged to return home to their respective families or guardians every other weekend in order to keep them rooted. Some begged to remain with the nuns rather than go home especially where the home situation was not the ideal one. In the summer of 1967, Sr Deguara developed chronic malaria which was mistaken for typhus. She had to return to the clinic a few days after being discharged due to a crippling form of polyneuritis. She thought that she would never be able to walk again but was completely cured of both thanks to the excellent treatment received. After a short holiday in Malta in 1968, she returned to Kimwenza where she remained until she was called back to serve as head of the Sacred Heart School at St. Julian’s. The seven years she spent in Congo Sr Deguara considers to be happiest of her life. Living among such simple, happy, loving and generous people taught her to be grateful to God for all that she had received serving in Africa.
  • 85. 87 19.1 Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA) At the end of her time at the service of the general administration, Sr Marion Carabott was sent to Rwanda. Here she lived with a Congregation of African Sisters called Abizeramariya (meaning, in the local language, those who hope in Mary). The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, Sr Carabott’s Congregation was involved in the foundation/ formation of twenty local congregations which are now autonomous. This particular congregation, the Abizeramariya, was founded by a local priest and the Bishop asked her congregation to give a solid formation to the nuns. Sr Carabott was mainly involved in the formation of the novices and gave sessions to the professed nuns. She spent many happy years collaborating with these nuns in Gisagara where they had a Home for those in distress - widows, orphans, elderly persons who were abandoned because of poverty or illness. Many residents were also HIV positive or dying of Aids. The charisma of this Rwandan congregation is very much like that of Mother Teresa as they always welcomed those who were on the margins of society. The love, respect, concern and attitude of these nuns for these poor people in distress deeply touched her and she had much to learn from them. Eventually, when this congregation had enough of its own nuns to take over the general administration and formation of their Institute, she left for Bukavu, Congo. Sr Carabott had already been there previously and she loved the people and their beautiful country which is so rich in resources, in the variety of all the tribes and languages, in the beauty of its landscapes, in the dynamism and creativity of its people. The local church in Bukavu was very lively and its Liturgy was adapted to the culture of the local population. However, it is a region which has been, and still is, in the heart of conflicts and exploitation by foreign countries. After her stay there Sr Carabott returned to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. This was a difficult time when the tension leading to the genocide was building up. During the genocide many of the Abizermariya she had known and trained were killed and this event left a deep wound in all of those who have lived in this beautiful country of a thousand hills and who have loved its people. After the genocide the six MSOLAcommunities were reduced to two, one in Kigali and one in Butare. The nuns are still there. They are involved with the formation of candidates, work with HIV and AIDS patients, support centres for the promotion of women and help those in distress. She was then asked to serve as regional in UK and had to leave Rwanda and Africa. This was so difficult for Sr Carabott and it was not easy for her to say goodbye to this wonderful continent and its peoples. Luckily Africa is now coming to Europe and she meets many people from there. While in Britain she was involved with JRS and visited detainees in the immigration detention centre of Colnbrook near Heathrow Airport, London. All the ones she visited were Africans and they were very happy to discover someone who had lived in their country. She now forms part of a community that is associated with PACT (Prison Advice and Care Trust) and together in a team of five they support ex-prisoners in their rehabilitation to normal life. TheAfrican Church is becoming more and more mature. There are many local priests, religious congregations and zealous catechists and the local people are very active and take over the important roles in their parishes. In all this Sr Carabott sees that the dream of Cardinal Lavigerie, their Founder, as coming true: ‘the lasting work must be accomplished by Africans when they, themselves, become Christians and apostles’. Rwanda Chapter 19 ____________ RWANDA
  • 86. 88 20.1 The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) 1903 can be considered the year when Christianity was introduced to Zululand. The white chief of Emoyeni in a Zulu milieu was dying and he asked for a priest to evangelize his large family of 50 wives and 150 children. Fr Rousset, an OMI was sent by the Bishop of Durban to care for the Zulus. To help him in this formidable task, a number of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary were sent. The Zulus are scattered over the vast plain not far from the sea. The land was thickly populated by big families; formed of simple, upright people, very open to God’s action. Even without knowing Him, the parents came eagerly, and allowed their children, both boys and girls, to be instructed and receive baptism. The missionary was untiring in his efforts: in the school, teaching catechism every day, working in the fields with the children and visiting the kraals. The nuns were awaited with great eagerness. Their first letters after arrival delighted Mary of the Passion. On Easter Sunday 1903, the Eucharist was exposed for the first time in the chapel-hut. There were calls for foundations all Part Five SOUTH AFRICA Chapter 20 ____________ SOUTH AFRICA around, but more help was needed to make them The nuns were mainly involved in pastoral work, with no racial discrimination: parish work and Bible classes, Girl Guides, Secular Franciscan Order, rehabilitation of alcoholics of all races and visits to the prison. The special task of the Province of South Africa was to transform “the land of investments, of conflict and anguish” into a Franciscan land where love reigns. After serving the Church in Malta for 27 years, Sr Mary Muscat volunteered to work in South Africa. She arrived in August 1975, an awfully cold day. On one of the doorways she noticed the word Blank is written in large black letters. She thought blankets could be had for free while waiting in transit. Soon she discovered that the word meant Whites Only in Africaans. In Durban her second stop she learnt that though the place was teeming with Black and Coloured people, these had no name, no status, no value as human beings. They were there simply as a working force during the day. At night, after curfew they disappeared into the Dormitory Townships round the City. Her first two years were filled with frustration, disappointment and anger. She was determined to work with and for the poor.
  • 87. 89 South Africa One had to keep in mind that these young families had come to the towns to seek work. In their village they lived in hovels. In 1985 Sr Muscat moved to Weenen to offer her services in a Maternity/Child Care Clinic. Here the nuns’ Mobile Clinic goes out three times a week to give service to outlying districts in the surrounding mountains. When she joined this community there were 5 nuns in this haven of bliss. Today, apart from Health Care, two nuns carry on pastoral work. They evangelise and train catechists to cover the two parishes and ten outlying districts annexed to Weenen. The Parish Priest was Fr Olivier O.M.I. He hailed from Brittany, in France, a 75 year-old missionary, still very young at heart. The great effort of the Church at present is to imbue the Culture of the People with the values of the Gospel. In several instances they dovetail easily. In others it needs a great amount of understanding and patient discernment to bring out the truth. Sr Muscat was once again responsible for education in this community. The community at Izitendeni (the place of tents), one of the many poor areas close to Weenen, had been awaiting removal for the past 27 years. The people lived in tents, cardboard rooms, asbestos pipes and sacking. Indescribable misery reigned supreme. The people had been given orders not to put hammer to nail, so they could not better themselves. When she visited the place with the permission of the white magistrate, she thought the people would beg for money or food. To her surprise all they asked of her was to take care of their four children. It was a colossal task. All she had were 23 rands or about Lm6 (€14). She had no choice but to turn to the generosity of the Maltese people. Money, clothing, encouragement, prayers started pouring in. The bare necessities; buckets, pots and potties were bought: buckets to carry water from the river, pots to boil it in and to cook the phutu (a meal made from maize) on an open fire and the potties for the children’s use. Three local women chosen Instead she found herself living as a privileged person. She was advised to keep calm, watch and pray. In June 1976 the Black Children of Soweto, rose in protest when they learned that at school they would be taught Africaans, Tribal language and English in this order. They for their part wanted that English be taught first with Africaans optional. They were ready to pay with their blood for their choice, and they did. This event proved the beginning of a series of changes. The wave of upheaval and reform gained strength until the great Dawn that saw Mandela walk out of prison – A Free Man. It was a joy to work during the ensuing years. Up to 1984, she worked in Durban and the City’s greater outskirts. Then between 1985 and 1995 she moved to the Rural Areas of Weenen – The Place of Weeping - a place where terrible battles had been fought between the English, Africaners and the Zulus during the Boer Wars. Many wounds needed to be healed there, and hurts forgiven. In Durban she worked as an Educational Officer, forming part of a Team employed by Urban Foundation started by the most influential business people of the country. The purpose of this Foundation was to educate, train and prepare the strong African Middle Class which was emerging. The Early Learning Section was entrusted to three people – A Jewess, a Hindu young woman and Sr Muscat. Together they criss- crossed the large area entrusted to their care. They visited and helped people to realise their dreams. In 10 years, they set up 81 Day Care Centres for children under the age of 11. There, where misery and death had reigned, now ran healthy children, well cared for, clean, well fed and learning through play according to their age groups. Parents who needed to work to be able to survive could now entrust their children from 6.00am to 6.00pm to the care of efficient and well trained personnel. Gone were the days of burnt and kidnapped children.
  • 88. 90 Africa by the Community were trained. After two months, two small rooms used by the Catholic and Anglican churches opened their doors to receive their first 60 children. The Kwadumisa (the place of praise) Nursery School was launched. Poverty was tangible, but the joy and enthusiasm of the people were infectious. Permission was granted to build and the first Pre- School rose. Small local industries - sewing, candle-making, the making of preserves, growing and selling vegetables – were launched. The families started to work, literally like ants, block-making and building became the order of the day. Two-roomed houses mushroomed everywhere. The one and only Pre-School in the area with running water and a drain tank, commented the Circuit Inspector of the Area on the 23rd July 1987. Kwadumisa, which had now become a recognised Welfare Organisation, became also a training Centre. From here trained young people went forth to 23 other communities who had asked for help. They in turn opened Pre-School Centres, formed and guided Managing Committees, kept strict watch on financial matters through a simple but efficient method of Book- Keeping, raised the level of the people through Adult Education ranging from Literacy classes to Metric. To top it all, these now educated women systematically worked out a plan of action for the overall development of the Woman as the hub of Family and Community Life. All this was done progressively as the awareness of the people themselves increased - discovering the richness of their heritage and their potential. Thus together they walked, plodded and strained along. The people came to realize that God loved them. Age and declining health slowed down Sr Muscat. Her decision to return home was taken with a deeper conviction. These people were now able to mould and organise their own future. Sr Josephine Vella arrived in South Africa in 1973. She started by helping with supervision in the school and by teaching Indian girls Continental Cooking. She also helped to supervise the African girls who were already cooking. Having obtained her permit, with another three nuns, she moved to Weenen where a new community and a health clinic were established. From here, they used to travel to the mountain area on Mobile Clinic where the nuns helped the people according to their health needs. Since Sr Vella could not, as yet, speak Zulu, she had a translator with her. At the same time, she was helping with a literacy programme and taught catechism classes. Since expecting mothers came to the nuns, while waiting for the clinic service, she helped them learn how to cultivate their own vegetable gardens. Later on Sr Vella helped in the parish as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist and visited those who were Catholics but had stopped frequenting the Church. Finally, she ended up in Umzinto, where she was responsible for the cooking and gardening in the house, at the same time visiting and helping the elderly in their homes. She also had Gospel sharing with a group of families. Old age made her retire in 2004. Sr Mary Delia was sent to South Africa (Natal) in 1958. She worked as a teacher in Umzintu School for 15 years. She returned to Malta in 1973 to care for her elderly mother. Sr Miriam Cassar from St Julian’s joined the Little Sisters of Jesus. Miriam has lived the experience of Italy, England and Kenya and at the moment she is living in South Africa in the Fraternity of Soweto. She joined the Little Sisters in 1985 in England, after 3 Little Sisters, the troubadour, came to Malta for three months to share the Christmas message. They stayed in a little house in Żejtun, known as il-Ħofra where they were warmly welcomed by the people there and, though they could not communicate Chapter 20.2 ____________ THE LITLE SISTERS OF JESUS (LSJ)
  • 89. 91 South Africa much by words because of the language, they communicated with the people with the warmth of the heart. In England she worked in different factories and in a restaurant doing the washing up. It was not always easy. Sometimes when the day was so long and heavy, washing dishes all day, she often wondered how such work could save souls. Her answer arrived when one day a young man, sent by an agency, came to help for two days. When he knew she was a nun, he started to swear at her saying he was pleased to see a nun sweating to get this job done just like him. Yes, sharing the fatigue and conditions of the people brings people closer together. After seven years in England, she moved to Kenya for two years of Theological studies and then back to France and Italy for her final vows in 1995. After that she stayed in Italy until 2000 and then moved to South Africa where she had pitched her tent. She worked in Pietermaritzburg for four years in a poor black area. She worked in a school for mentally disabled children as an assistant. The teachers were all white and the assistants were all black people. People were shocked to see a white person doing cleaning usually reserved for the coloured. As a white, she was at ease with white people, but because she lived among black people, she was also accepted by them. After four years working there, she was asked to move to Soweto. It was the first time that all the staff came together and had a farewell meal. For these last eight years in Soweto, she has been working in a kindergarten in charge of 115 children between 1 and 6 years old. “Our life should be a living announcement reflecting Jesus, something which announces Jesus, that in it Jesus appears. That is His image”. – Charles de Foucald. The Spiritual Family of Charles de Foucauld The Foundress of the Congregation of The Little Sisters of Jesus, Magdelaine Hutin, was born in Paris on the 26th April 1898, the youngest of 6 children. Two of her brothers died young, two others, one of them a Jesuit, were killed during the war of 1914-18 and not much later, he died of the Spanish flu. Magdelaine was the only one still alive by 1920, and she was very ill. In 1921, a biography of Fr De Foucauld written by Rene Bazin was published and Magdelaine’s life was profoundly affected by it. She wrote, “I found in him the ideal of which I had been dreaming what it means to live the Gospel, embracing absolute poverty, being abandoned amongst the abandoned and above all living love in all its fullness. God had given me a vocation, not cloistered but contemplative in the midst of the world, to bring Jesus to people as Mary did at the Visitation”. On the 8th of September 1939, a few days after the declaration of the 2nd world war, L.S. Magdelaine made her religious profession, the beginning of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of Jesus. In 1946 the little nuns started to work in factories. It was the first time that religious dressed in habit worked in a factory, shoulder to shoulder with the workers, without any superiority or privilege. It was the apostolate of silent witness of a profoundly contemplative religious life. The name of Charles de Foucald is doubtlessly known by many Maltese especially through the prayer of abandonment that is found spread amongst the Maltese. This prayer is composed of quotations from a longish meditation based on the prayer of Jesus on the Cross (Luke 23, 46) which Charles puts as uttered by Jesus Himself. Around the year 1973 a group of nuns that formed part of the Little Sisters of Jesus of the Tre Fontane in Rome visited Malta. They repeated their visit often, living in Ħamrun and at a later stage in Pwales. As a result of these visits Charles de Foucald became known, and the first fraternity of lay people in Malta was founded. Today five groups meet in Malta and one in Gozo. Sometime after a group of priests started meeting and reflecting the Spirituality of the Priest. Maltese Religious It is fitting to say that some 20 religious congregations, male and female, and secular institutes live the spirituality
  • 90. 92 of Charles de Foucald. Magdeleine Hutin founded the Little Sisters of Jesus in 1939 and Rene Voillaume (1905-2003) founded these three Congregations: Little Brothers of Jesus in 1933; Little Brothers of the Gospel in 1956 and Little Sisters of the Gospel in 1963. A number of Maltese youths have had an experience of this spirituality inspired by these fraternities of Brothers and Sisters. Sr Carmen Vassallo from Mosta forms part of the Little Sisters of the Gospel. Carmen lived in fraternities in France in Montbazin and Bonnefamille. These are two villages in the countryside where the pastoral activity is in the hands of a team of laypeople together with a priest. She has also spent a long period in the United States of America where the nuns take care of a group of prisoners and their families in The Bronx. For another period of sixteen years Sr Carmen lived in Italy. In the year 2005 Sr Carmen started a new experience together with two other young nuns, in a popular zone of Bari. For the first three months they lived with the Parish Priest till a flat was found for them. A local woman offered her help in decorating the chapel. In every fraternity the chapel is the most important place in the house. Whether it is in a caravan living among gypsies or in a flat in a busy world, or in a prison among prisoners, or in a slum area, every Little Sister spends an hour of adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. They are expected to spend an hour of adoration in silence every day, apart from praying the Lauds and Vespers. They place the life of so many people that they meet and of their families at the feet of Jesus. The work of Carmen and her companions was varied, helping disabled persons, accompanying a group of youths, providing Africa the poor with a hot meal every day, accompanying prisoners and giving shelter to those who slept in the station. As from April 2011 Carmen was sent to France to help in the formation of the novices. They are a group coming from four nations. This experience in France helped Sr Carmen to deepen her knowledge of Charles de Foucald’s spirituality sharing her life with the young. Together with the founder, she prays deep from her heart: “To announce the Gospel I was ready to go till the farthest points of the earth”. Sr Carmen reflects that “the Eucharist is at the very heart of the charisma of Charles de Foucald. On the day of his conversion, Charles experienced in profound manner God´s forgiveness, and immediately the confessor sent him to receive Holy Communion. This profound mystery of the Love of God shown to us in the smallness of a piece of Bread, a treasure left to us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist is the very core of our prayer. The spirit of the Congregation is essentially that of Nazareth, the hidden life of Jesus, the 30 years of his life that we do not know much about, nothing could distinguish him from the people he was among, without any other dignity than that of serving in the last place”. On this example of Jesus of Nazareth, Carmen and her companions live in a spirit of solidarity with those who receive them amongst them. Like every family every morning Carmen goes out for work to earn her living, and share the conditions of the life of her neighbours, with whom she manages to build deep friendship that allows her to share their joy and their sorrow. I cannot live with a crown of flowers once my Lord wore a crown of thorns. I chose to live a life of poverty and sobriety because it was Jesus who first assumed poverty. He came down amongst us, deprived Himself of everything for our love, Moresofortheexcluded. Charles de Foucald Chapter 20.3 ____________ THE LITLE SISTERS OF THE GOSPEL
  • 91. 93 South Africa Catechetical Development in The Diocese of Port Elizabeth In 1975, a Holy Year, Josephine Buhagiar, met Fr Patrick Peyton who told her: “Our Lady wants you to bring God to the people”. At the same time, she met Sr Eileen Bogues (MSA) who started training her as Catechist to be able to train others. In 1984 her Bishop sent her to Ireland for further training. There she prepared children for the sacraments and gave retreats for confirmation candidates and adults. Since then, she worked with the Missionary Sisters of the Assumption, as a lay missionary committed and trained as a Catechist. . In truth, concern about the problem of teaching religion in the Diocese of Port Elizabeth arose in 1967 as many of the Catholic schools were closing down, and few parishes had Chapter 20.4 ____________ LAY MISSIONARIES
  • 92. 94 trained catechism teachers. The Bishop Mgr Green asked Fr Patrick Barry to attend a course on modern Catechetical Instruction. He chose a programme offered by Corpus Christi, London as its practical life and approach was more suited to South African conditions. On completion of the course he returned to Port Elizabeth and commenced training people willing to teach religion accentuating the new Vatican II ‘catechesis’ or the ‘child- centred’ and ‘Christ-centred’ catechesis and that life-centred method. He also introduced the Family and Community Catechism (FCC) programme consisting in an adult education programme meant for parents on the occasion of their children´s first Communion. It is focused on home, church and school, the three centres of catechesis, uniting them under one programme. Eventually Sr Eileen Bogues who studied at Lumen Vitae in Brussels and Josephine Buhagiar who studied at the Mount Olivier Institute Dundalk in Ireland, joined the team led by Fr Barry in Port Eliabeth. Sr Eileen and Josephine did heroic work in training and organizing co-ordinators and leaders in the various regions throughout the Diocese. They wrote, printed and published catechisms which were life and child centred and suitable for the parishes. For a number of years Josephine ran the FCC programme. Testimony: Bishop Michael writes to Josephine Buhagiar “Dear Josephine! Your welcome letters, prayers and affirmation have done, and are doing, my heart such good. Thank-you firmly as I tread this journey into – I know not yet – but, whatever the Lord decides, we receive with gratitude. I will think of you and pray with you on a daily basis before the Lord for you and your own needs. With deep gratitude I remembered your long and fruitful ministry for our Youth. Let us continue to pray for each other”. Africa
  • 93. 95 The Americas
  • 94. 96 The Americas Part One CANADA Chapter 21 ____________ CANADA was in favour of this proposal. Bishop Mauro Caruana was expecting that somebody would offer himself to serve in this mission in a consistent manner. The idea of a Maltese National Parish came to fruition in 1929, when Fr Alphonse Cauchi, an Augustinian, settled permanently in Toronto. He had arrived in Toronto in 1925, and in 1928 the first Parish of the Maltese was created. In the beginning they used to use the Carmelite Church of the Italian community. With the help of the Maltese Canadian Society of Toronto and other Maltese, a plot of land was bought and the building of a church and a basement started. On the 7th of September 1931 this first church, dedicated to St Paul, was blessed by Archbishop McNeil. As the immigration slowed down, it took the parishioners seven years to pay the loan. This notwithstanding, in November 1933 they inaugurated a Hall. When Fr Cauchi died, this was considered as one of his achievements. One should note that St Paul`s is the only National Parish Church in North America and as far as it is known the only one outside Malta. The presence of Fr Cauchi among the Maltese in Toronto was of great spiritual value. His dedication to the Maltese community demonstrated 21.1 The Beginnings According to Rev. Mark Demanuele MSSP, the connection between the Maltese immigrants in Toronto and the Catholic Church was established very early. The early Maltese that had emigrated to Canada felt the need of the presence of a Maltese priest among them to assist them in fulfilling their religious duties. The first Maltese arrived in Toronto in 1913, and by 1916 there were two hundred Maltese without any Maltese priest as yet. In fact, as early as 1914, they had asked the assistance of Archbishop McNeil to assist them in getting a Maltese priest. In 1916 Fr Fortunato Mizzi OFM Cap submitted a formal memorandum to the Archbishop in which he provided reasons why the Maltese needed to have either a parish of their own or a Maltese priest working permanently in a parish in Toronto, but primarily with the aim of assisting the Maltese community. Archbishop McNeil, who by that time had supported and encouraged the idea of National Parishes,
  • 95. 97 and grateful that they would continue to have Maltese priests among them. 21.2 The New Church The immigrants in Toronto continued to increase in number and the need of a new and bigger church was felt. Fr Lawrence promptly rose to the challenge. Fr Emidio Cremona and Fr Albert Vella joined forces with him in 1953. They sought the professional advice of the Maltese architect Lanzon who had planned the basement. They were advised that building on the same basement would be too costly. So they bought another piece of land adjacent to the basement .The first stone was laid by Fr Lawrence representing Cardinal McGuian on the 27th September 1955, and on it were engraved the words St Paul the Apostle Church, the Maltese Cross and Franciscan Fathers. Fr Joe Caruso, ordained priest in 1950, first visited Canada in 1960 on a Commonwealth Scholarship. In 1962 he returned to Canada, this time for good. He studied music at the London College of Music and gained his LRSM at the University of Toronto. For three years he taught theory and history – the beginning, the classic and baroque – at the British Columbia University. He could play both the piano and the organ, but unfortunately in his old age he ceased to play because of poor eyesight. At one time he moved to Winnipeg in Maritoba, where he taught Latin in a Jesuit College. The Bishop called him to serve as Secretary to the Ecclesiastical Tribunal and gradually he became Judge and finally Head of the Tribunal. With the help of a nun as his secretary, he concluded from fifteen to twenty cases every month, which were then sent to the Court of Appeal. At this time he also directed the Cathedral Choir and in the weekends he used to be at the disposal of the Bishop who used to send him to celebrate Mass in remote towns and villages. There were times during the weekends when he used to celebrate three Masses. exemplary leadership qualities. In a sense he fulfilled the duties that are currently carried out by the Maltese Consul General. By 1943, when Fr Cauchi had passed away at the age of 63, the Maltese community was well established around St Paul’s Church. He will always be remembered for his tireless efforts, his generosity and his love of his community. This Maltese connection was enhanced with the arrival of the Order of Friars Minor in the person of Fr Lawrence Bonavia and his confreres. After the Second World War, the influx of Maltese immigrants to Canada increased. As a result, the Maltese community in Toronto grew rapidly and so did their spiritual needs. Between 1943 and 1951 the Maltese did not have the benefit of a Maltese Pastor. The Franciscans began their mission amongst the immigrants of Toronto in 1948, when Fr Lawrence Bonavia arrived with a number of immigrants. He resided in a Franciscan church and was in charge of the Maltese Church. On the 8th of December 1954, the church was formally handed over to the Franciscans, and as a result they could plan the building of a convent according to the rules of their order. The Cardinal decided to give the new Church in perpetuo to the Maltese Province. In January 1958 Fr Manuel Anthony Vella joined the community to take care of the Maltese in Hamilton, St Thomas, London and Windsor. In 1951 Fr Bonavia was appointed parish priest. Since then the parish priests of St Paul’s have always been Maltese. For 48 years the Franciscans meticulously took care of the spiritual needs of the Maltese community. It is important to acknowledge the dedicated work of several parish priests and vice parish priests, in the survival, enhancement and development of the parish. They contributed to maintain Maltese traditions while assisting the Maltese to adapt to life in Canada. In February 1990 the Maltese Franciscans with the approval of the Archdiocese of Toronto passed over the Parish to the Missionary Society of St Paul’s, who whole heartedly accepted the challenge of running the parish. The Maltese were relieved Canada
  • 96. 98 The Americas Fr Caruso also formed part of a Foundation which received the immigrants on reaching Canada. These very often did not know the language, did not have where to stay and had no job. The City Council put at their disposal a building where they could have various secretaries dealing with immigrants coming from different nations. On one occasion, an official of the City Council queried the Foundation’s work. Fr Caruso replied that they were giving the Maltese culture, the three languages they could speak. Fr Caruso stayed in Canada for 34 years and then returned to Malta in 1991. Canon Joseph Fenech KM, KHS was born in Sliema on November 26 1928, baptized at Sacro Cuor Parish, studied at Stella Maris College, was an active member at the Salesian Oratory, got interested and joined them.He did his novitiate and philosophy in Sicily and he studied theology in the UK, where he was ordained on the 5th.July 1959. His First Solemn High Mass,however he celebrated  at the St. Paul Maltese Parish in Toronto to where his family had emigrated. In 1962 he joined the Salesians in the American Province and he was assigned to Mary Help of Christians Parish on the Lower East Side of New York city. His field of Pastoral work was quite extensive. He was associate Pastor, Youth and Summer Camp Director and found time to dedicate himself to the very large maltese community. He organized Malta Day that became to be known as St. Paul´s Day. He gained a statue of St.Paul made by Wistin Camileri of Gozo, which he donated to the Maltese Center in Astoria NY. After 20 years of intensive pastoral work in New York he decided to join his parents in Canada and incardinated with the Archdiocese in toronto. Canon Fenech found the ethnic complexity in Canada as challenging as it was in New York: every ethnic group under the heavens is somewhere there. The Italian Community was outstanding. In 1988 the Cardinal entrusted him with the founding of a New parish which included the building of a new church within a community made up of Phillipines, Indians, Pakistani and Chinese, old Italians and a couple of Maltese families. They were all without money and it was quite a job. The architect was Mr. John Farrugia from Dingli and this helped immensely. The Cardinal consecrated the new church  dedicated to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (Sacro Cuor!) and St. Aidan in September 1993.As for bells, we put the loudspeakers in the Bell tower and till today they provide the parishioners with a magnificient recording of St. John´s Co Cathedral provided by Mr. Joe Muscat Drago, the father of a parishioner, and then procurator of St. John´s. With a beautiful church, nice parish hall, meeting rooms and a youth centre all parish activities tripled overnight. At the openeing of the Youth Centre by the local Member of Parliament in Ottawa Canon Fenech was awarded the Queen´s Jubilee medal by the Government of Canada. Among the many other pastoral activites he organized the Good Friday Procession with four sets of statues brought over from Spain. The Maltese Band enlivens the procession. Canon Fenech took care too to organize something special for them nd as a result was awarded the Star of Comander in the Orderof Rizal by the Philippino Gvernment.In 1991 he was invited to the Order  of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. In the year 2000 he was awarded the title of Comendatore. In 2005 he was invested as conventual Chaplain ad honorem within the ranks of the Knights of Malta (SMOM). In 2006 hewas invested as canon ad honorem of St. Helen´s Collegiate Basilica in Birkirkara. Canon Joseph Fenech retired in 2007. But it did not mean much. At present he is dedciated to the Italian community, whichis sort of a parish within a parish, as he runs all pastoral duties in Italian.”Those years in sicily came very handy” canon Fenech writes
  • 97. 99 The Order of Missionary Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth was founded in Malta by Miss Gużeppina Curmi, having as its charisma Simplicity, Humility and Charity. On March 12, 1934, the Archbishop of Malta canonically, established the Congregation as a Religious Community. In October 1961, after a written request by the parish priest of Assumption Church, Powell River, British Columbia the Congregation sent the first six nuns to Canada. Three days after their arrival, the Assumption Elementary School was opened, and the six nuns were asked to teach there, starting from grade one to grade seven. Apart from teaching in the school, the nuns taught Catechism to the many children who did not attend the Catholic school. During the weekends and the school holidays they helped in the parish as ministers of the Eucharist. At present there are only two nuns still teaching in the school. Apart from teaching, the Community is involved in visiting the sick in the hospital, and the elderly in the Extended Care Unit and in their homes. They also lend a hand in the Faith and Light Programme, and work with the First Nation people. In September 1994, another house was opened in North Vancouver British Columbia. Two nuns from the Mater Ecclesiae Convent of Powell River moved to Holy Trinity Parish. They are mostly involved in the parish work. The Congregation also has a Mission in Peru, where the nuns take care of orphans and abandoned children as well as teach Catechism and spread the Good News among the Inca people. Following the charism of the Foundress, the Congregation has a home for the elderly, a home for children who come from broken homes, a hostel for young girls, a day care centre to help single mothers while they go to work, and a home where the nuns look after a Community of priests. Canada One of the first nuns to start her mission work in Canada was Sr Agostina Scicluna MSJN Nun Agostina joined the Congregation in 1951.After her first vows she was sent to look after children in the convent, which hosted many orphans and abandoned children. She was very happy working and taking care of the children for a good ten years. When the Mother General received a letter from a certain Fr John Collins, of Powell River, asking whether she could send as many as six nuns to teach in Assumption Catholic School in Powell River, British Columbia Sister Agostina was one of the first six chosen. She was overjoyed at that prospect. Although she still desired to go to India orAfrica, she accepted this mission to Canada as God’s Will for her. On October 6, 1961 she left Malta along with five other nuns. She taught inAssumption School from 1961 till her retirement in 1995. She loved the children and even though she is retired she still goes to the school to help with religion and reading in the primary grades. She is also involved in the parish teaching catechism, and visiting the sick in hospital and in the Extended Care Unit. Sr Terencia Maniscalco from Marsaxlokk was sent to Rome for her formation. When in 1968 she made her profession she was sent to Toronto in Canada where she remained for 30 years, helping in the parish giving importance to the apostolate with the immigrants. In 1998 she was sent to the Philippines where she served in an elementary school and also taught catechism in the public schools. The Congregation has an Oratory which is a great asset in their youth apostolate. Sr Terencia also pays visits to the poor in a nearby favela where she teaches catechism to the children, and spends her free time with them playing games. The community also Chapter 21.3 ____________ THE MISSIONAY SISTERS OF JESUS OF NAZARETH (MSJN) Chapter 21.4 ____________ THE CARMELITE MISSIONARY SISTERS OF ST. THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS JESUS (CSST)
  • 98. 100 The Americas serves the children with a snack when they come for the parish meetings. Sr Terencia is the only Maltese in a community of 23 nuns who apart from another nun who is African, all are Philippinos. The first priest from Malta to arrive in the United States, in the City of San Francisco in 1914, was Fr Ġian Andrea Azzopardi. He found the situation of Maltese immigrants to be precarious: they did not yet speak English, and had no profession or job. Through the help of the Bishop he acquired sizeable premises which he turned into a chapel and a meeting place for the Maltese. He called the place St Paul’s Shipwreck. Apart from his pastoral work, he started giving lessons in English. We read in the minutes of the Order: “The Maltese Pastor knew how sadly deficient was the level of education amongst his flock and he helped to organise lessons for those who were unable to read or write. He even criticised the Maltese authorities that they had neglected the immigrants living away from their countries and he insisted on making education available to all”. When he returned to Malta 1914he was substituted by Fr Teofilo Cachia, who dedicated all his life to this Mission. In 1915 the Maltese already had their first church dedicated to the Shipwreck of St Paul. This was also frequented by Italian and English emigrants. In 1922, Fr Cachia enlarged the Church which was consecrated by the Bishop of San Francisco and placed under the patronage of St Paul´s Shipwreck. Mgr Guido Calleja, who is now in his eighties, has been in the United States for the last 32 years. These last 19 years he has been parish priest of Magnolia Springs and Our Lady of Bon Secour. The two churches for which he is responsible were in a bad state but he managed to acquire sufficient funds to restore both churches, as well as the rectory. The parishioners of Magnolia Springs have become elderly since the younger members move to the bigger cities looking for better jobs. It was for many years an agricultural area, but now, 22 potato growers have closed shop because they are not Part Two THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Chapter 22 __________ THE MALTESE CHURCH IN THE USA Chapter 22.1 __________ DIOCESAN PRIESTS
  • 99. 101 economically viable any more. Mgr Calleja is not all that happy in his pastoral work because he has the impression that today’s generation is not that interested in the spiritual aspect of life. He also finds that the political parties are hostile to the church’s teaching on family and life. Notwithstanding that his parish is a parish of the interior, he has to face the same problems of parishes that are in the larger cities, such as people who have no faith at all and Catholics who appear in Church only once a year. As one may expect, in these circumstances there is a lack of vocations from the locality and vacancies within the parish are being taken up by Korean and Vietnamese priests who are not all that fluent in English. Despite these difficulties, Mgr Calleja feels that one has to face all these problems with courage and faith in theAlmighty, convinced that He knows our problems and our needs far better than we actually do. Perhaps God wants to test our faith in Him. At the age of 83, Mgr Guido feels that he can still do his part to serve God. Fr Carmel Mifsud, of Żejtun, brought up in a fervent Catholic family, lived in a town where the number of priests was plentiful. As an altar boy he always served Mass before going to school, so that the priestly vocation was evident in him at an early stage. The missionary vocation came as a result of the relatively great number of priests in his birth place Żejtun. His first choice fell on Brazil because when he was in his last year of Theology, Mgr Fernandes, a Brazilian bishop of the Diocese of Londrina in the State of Parana, visited the Seminary and asked for priests and seminarians. Fr Carmelo offered himself there and then. Arriving in Londrina, and after studying the Portuguese language, the spoken language in Brazil, he was designated parish priest in the parish called Nossa Senhora Das Graças. He spent seven years in this parish. The environment was still very primitive and challenging. But being a young priest full of courage, zeal and enthusiasm he faced these challenges with USA courage and faith. Fr Mifsud built a relatively large church in the first four years, though the resources were scarce as his parishioners were poor. The Brazilian people in truth love the priest and the Church, and are appreciative of his efforts. In the mid-sixties Fr Carmelo was having a break in Malta when he met Bishop Floyd Begin of Oakland, California. The Bishop was looking for priests and seminarians to join him in his Diocese. Fr Carmelo was committed to Brazil. But the Bishop replied to Carmelo: “when and if you decide to come to Oakland, you are welcome”. Knowing that in California the number of Maltese immigrants was abundant, a year and a half later he left Londrina and joined the diocese of Oakland in California. The post-conciliar years gave rise to hot discussions between the conservative wing and a more progressive Church. This was more evident in the United States. Fr Carmelo Mifsud accepted this challenge, then not so acute in Brazil. In his words, this discussion helped him to mature more in his priestly discussion. He helped his parishioners who were deeply disturbed in the dialogue. For many years he kept contact with the Maltese in San Francisco by crossing the bridge connecting Oakland to San Francisco. Every year, the feast of St Paul was duly celebrated with a procession for which great crowds of Maltese were present. The celebration always ended with a fenkata - the Fr. Carmel Mifsud, third from left, receiving Bernard Gafa and Francis Debattista, seminarians, still in Brazil
  • 100. 102 The Americas traditional Maltese rabbit dish. After serving for 32 years in various parishes in Oakland, Fr Carmelo retired to Oregon, a state adjacent to California, to a town called Medford, with a population of 80,000. He has since lived there for these last 12 years working together with another three priests. They take care of 3,000 families, and celebrate 8 Masses on Sunday including one or two in Spanish for the numerous Mexican settlers in the city. At that time two seminarians, the late Fr Philip Demarco of Sliema and Charles Lynn of Paola offered themselves to Charles Lynn and Fr. Philip Demarco, second and third go and study Theology in Oakland. Unfortunately Charles Lynn, notwithstanding that he was an excellent seminarian, hesitated and gave up. Philip Demarco stuck to it and finished his studies in Oakland, but after his ordination returned to Malta to serve in St Julian´s and in the Church Commission for the Church Orphanages run by Mgr Maurice Grech. Fr Edward Cassar was ordained priest together with, amongst others, Fr Paul Cremona O.P., now Archbishop of Malta, on 22nd March 1969. Immediately after his ordination to the priesthood he underwent a post-graduate course at the Gregorian University in Rome. Immediately after his ordination, still a Capuchin, he carried out missionary work in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. In 1972 he moved to the United States where he joined the Brooklyn Diocese. He has now been in the United States for forty years. For a short interval, between 1988 and 1990, he was permitted by his Bishop to work in Sydney, Australia. His main ministry has been parish work in several Italian-speaking parishes, being fluent in Italian. The Brooklyn diocese is a multi- language diocese where Mass is celebrated in 26 different languages. Fr Julian Cassar never dreamt he would spend most of his life away from Malta, and specifically in the USA. But God always has surprising plans for us, especially when we least expect Him. It all started 2 years after Fr Julian’s ordination in June 1977. He had the opportunity to help as a supply priest on Long Island during the summer of 1979, being invited by another Maltese priest who was working there at the time. For two and a half months he served Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Massapequa Park, helping with Masses, an occasional funeral or a wedding and quite a few baptisms. There he had the fortune to meet a zealous priest with whom he kept contact when he returned to Malta. He soon realized he was more needed abroad and so, two years later, precisely on September 15, 1981, he was on his way to Long Island,
  • 101. 103 USA New York to become an Associate Pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in New Hyde Park, where his priest friend Fr John Heinlein Anthony of Padua in Rocky Point, Long Island for five years. This was a small parish with just himself and the Parish Priest, but nonetheless, very active with many children participating in the Religious Education programme and young folk involved in Catholic Youth Organisation. These were very busy years for he started placing a page in the parish Bulletin with reflections, meditations and other interesting quotes that people looked forward to. During the years at St Anthony’s, he organized many activities and celebrations for children, including the annual Christmas Pageant, and gave several talks with audio-visual aids. His work with the Youth Group was another highlight of his career there as he accomplished many projects with them, being inspired by their enthusiasm and generous willingness to contribute as much as they could. In 1996 Fr Julian was transferred to Holy Family parish in Hicksville, Long Island, a bigger parish than his previous one, with two other priests serving a busy parish with a large parish school. In November 1998 he found himself further north into Dutchess County, New York State serving for 4 years in St Stanislaus Kostka parish. This proved a challenging time as the parish looked quiet and depressing but Fr. Julian said to himself “I will try to do something. There and then I took it upon myself to put some life into it. And sure enough things started to happen. Even the parish priest was encouraged to spear-head a church renovation transforming the sanctuary within six months of non-stop work.” People became more interested. Some were baptized, others returned to church after an absence of years. In 2003 he found himself in the parish of St Elizabeth of Hungary in John Day in the State of Oregonwith an area of 4,800 square miles and cut off from the busy thoroughfares one meets in the States. The village barely had 2000 people, and only two hundred were his parishioners. He worked hard and had the consolation to see some converts, having 6 in his first year and 17 in his second year. He also had two mission had been appointed as the new Pastor. It was hard to believe that he was the sixth priest in that parish, although within 3 years, the number fell to three. Since he did not know how to drive, he cycled wherever he wanted to go or obtained lifts from parishioners. By 1984 he was finally driving his own car, and that solved many a problem. He spent hours in the parochial school, visiting the children in their classes, from Kindergarten through 8th grade, and teaching them the faith. His friendship with the children continued over many years as he followed their paths through the Youth Club, and eventually blessed many of their marriages and baptized their children. His collaboration with Father John was very close and it bore fruit. But after 10 years, in 1991, he moved on to his next parish, St Fr. Julian Cassar and Fr.John Heinlein The cowboy priest
  • 102. 104 The Americas churches which he visited every week, around 120 miles of driving on a Sunday afternoon, just to reach a handful of people, who would have been without a Mass if he did not go to them. Even though people travel hundreds of miles for sports events, conventions, and driving cattle or to visit family, they somehow find it hard to travel to the main church. The territory in Eastern Oregon is vast, arid and mountainous, with snow on the peaks from September till July. John Day was at an elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level, and the benefit of this is that during the hot summer months, with temperatures sometimes over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, at night it cools off considerably and one can sleep comfortably with the temperatures dipping into the low 50s overnight. Many of the priests in the Baker Diocese were foreign, mostly from Africa. The nearest parish was 70 miles away to the south, while another one to the north was 80 miles away. It was in January 2005 that the Bishop stopped by to express his wish that Fr Julian should move to the cathedra in Baker City. A bishop´s wish is a command. The Cathedral in Baker City was a 97 year old Gothic- Romanesque building in good shape, with some majestic stained- glass windows from 1923 and 1958. But during renovation done in 1980, they built a wooden screen behind the main altar, covering what was in the apse behind. This was removed and instead a baldachin was built over the tabernacle in a centralized position. At first a vice pastor helped, but within 2 years Fr. Julian found himself on his own, taking care of the Cathedral itself, a smaller day-chapel for daily Mass, a Hospital chapel, a prison chapel and three mission churches, two of which were given to other parishes when he remained alone. This meant a 110 mile round-trip drive to his mission church in Halfway every weekend, besides the regular Masses in the cathedral, a Spanish Mass and attending weddings, funerals, and baptisms. He kept reaching out to lapsed Catholics and others who wanted to join the church, bringing in an average of 5 to 6 converts each year. At an elevation of 3,500 feet, Baker City is nestled between two huge mountain ranges, and many of the parishioners worked as ranchers or farmers. Others worked in local hospitals or clinics or the education system. The city has many old buildings built at the same time as the Cathedral, between 1900 and 1915. Gold mining was also common in those years, as was logging, but both trades are no more. The celebration of the Cathedral centennial was of particular
  • 103. 105 USA interest. Renovation of the Cathedral was a must and this lasted seven months. Most of the work was done by the parishioners and others who had volunteered from time to time. Everybody was very pleased with the result that gave a reverent and dignified sanctuary that is very conducive to prayer. The Cathedral was blessed on October 25, 2007 by Bishop Thomas Connolly, while a re-dedication Mass was offered on the 100th anniversary of its original dedication, April 9, 2008. Fr Emanuel Parnis started his missionary experience in 1998 by going to Peru to study Spanish. Six months later, he found himself in Detroit USA where he served in a Hispanic-speaking Parish downtown. He used to say Mass in Maltese in three different Maltese clubs, and Mass in Spanish in five prisons, four of them reserved for men and another for women. He was also responsible for various Spanish-speaking communities spread outside Detroit which he visited regularly. After two and a half years in Detroit he returned to Peru, where for the first two and a half years he worked with the Pontifical Missionary Society.After this, for six years he served as chaplain in a Psychiatric Hospital of four hundred patients. From this mission he moved to Aplao which forms part of Arequipa. This large parish has about 30 small communities spread in a vast area. Fr F. X. Zammit was born at Paola in 1935. In 1957 he joined the Maltese Missionary Society of St Paul and was sent to finish hisTheology inAustralia. He studied at Corpus Christi College in Melbourne, where he was ordained priest on July 23 1966. Since 1972 he has been working in the Orlando diocese as a diocesan priest in the State of Florida. In the seventies there were only two dioceses in Florida, that of St Augustine and the Archdiocese of Miami. Todaythereare7DiocesesandOrlandoisoneofthem.In 1968, when the Diocese of Orlando was formed by papal decree, the region consisted of 50 parishes and served 128,000 Catholics. With the opening of Disney World in 1971, the metropolitan Orlando exploded, and the Diocese of Orlando became one of the fastest growing in the nation. Today the Diocese of Orlando has grown to 80 parishes and 10 missions, serving more than 800,000 Catholics. His first assignment in the Diocese was at the Cathedral parish in Orlando. After that he served in several parishes, and in 1981 he joined the U.S. Navy as a chaplain. On returning to the Diocese, he was assigned by the Bishop to fill in parishes as administrator whenever a problem occurred. He did this for about 4 years. Now, as semi-retired, he helps at two parishes: that of our Lady of Lourdes in Daytona Beach, 10km from Orlando and the other is St Peter’s Church in Deland 40km away. At Our Lady of Lourdes, apart from some parish work, he says Mass on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then in the weekend he goes to St Peter’s for confessions and says Mass as needed. He also works as a Chaplain on Cruise Ships when time permits. St Peter’s can be counted as a mega parish with a large school, a hospital, and 35 nursing homes and institutions as well as a Spanish mission 56km away. The Parish Priest is Fr Tom Connery and his helpers are a Latino priest and Fr Mifsud. This parish is very much advanced in modern communications. Masses are televised live via the Internet globally. Fr Ivan Sciberras was born onAugust 8, 1969. Originally from Birkirkara, his family moved to Balzan in the early ‘70s, where it became active at Annunciation Parish. Ivan, who became an altar-boy at a very young age, owes his vocation to the dedication and generosity of the then parish priest Mgr Carmelo Sciberras, to Fr Ġwann Zammit Hammett, the vice parish priest who dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the sick and homebound; to Mgr. Ġwann Dimech, an excellent confessor and educator and to Fr Ġużepp Zammit, who spent long periods in the Church choir in prayer and making himself available for confessions. Ivan also attended M.U.S.E.UM. classes till his early teens, at a time when Victor Delicata, followed by Charles Bezzina, was the Superior and the M.U.S.E.U.M. centre was a hive of activity. After finishing Sixth Form at St Aloysius College in Birkirkara, Ivan enjoyed a stint as an instructor in public schools, while also serving as a referee with the Malta Football Association. It was at that time, in 1987, that Ivan joined
  • 104. 106 The Americas the Neo-Catechumenal Way at the parish in Balzan. This experience helped him to experience the joy of rediscovering the Faith in an intense community setting. Ivan enrolled at the University of Malta for a B.A. in Philosophy. In the autumn of 1991 he was chosen to join the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey, U.S.A. After obtaining a Master´s in Divinity from Seton Hall University,IvanwasordainedonMay29,1999. Afterordination, Fr Ivan served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Ridgewood, N.J. for seven years. It was a harrowing experience to be there on September 11 2001 when the Twin towers were attacked. Twelve parishioners from Our Lady of Mount Carmel lost their lives upon the collapse of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. Ministering to the grieving families and celebrating funerals for the victims had a great impact on the young priest. Another highlight of his priesthood was the beginning of the Spanish Apostolate in the parish. The Church in the United States is witnessing an incredible growth among Spanish-speaking immigrants, and hence the need to provide pastoral care in Spanish. Fr Ivan was then released for a three-year period to serve as vice-rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Guam, a U.S. territory twice the size of Malta, located in the Pacific Ocean. There he had the joy of assisting in the formation of young men for the priesthood, as well as being involved in their academic formation. Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark called Fr Ivan back to the Archdiocese of Newark and named him pastor at St Peter’s Church in Belleville, N.J. on July 1, 2009. Today he is still serving at this vibrant, multicultural and multilingual parish, which this year is celebrating the 175th anniversary of its institution. Fr Robert Cini was born on the 21St May 1927 at Qormi in the parish of St George. He was the youngest of five brothers and lost his father when he was still six years old. His father worked for the Coleiro Winery and through the good offices of Mr Ġann Coleiro he was accepted at St Joseph Institute, Santa Venera, as Mr Coleiro was a great benefactor of the Institute. He received his primary education in the same Institute. At the age of thirteen he enrolled as an aspirant with the Missionary Society of St Paul. He received his secondary education at St Aloysius College. In October 1946 he started his novitiate under thedirectionofFrDanielGravinaS.J,theArchbishop’sDelegate. After studying Philosophy at the Seminary in Floriana and later Theology at the Malta University, on the 2nd August 1953 he was ordained priest together with eight other Seminarians at the hands of Bishop Emmanuel Galea. After ordination he lived at St Agatha in Rabat and even worked for a time at the Oratory in Birkirkara. In October 1956 he was assigned to work with the Maltese migrants in Australia. Jointly with Fr Claude Borg MSSP he accompanied 400 Maltese immigrants to Australia on the ship Castel Felice. After three months he moved to Perth in Western Australia, where he was to stay for six years as chaplain with the Maltese immigrants. In 1963 he moved to Gippsland in Victoria for five years, serving the Maltese migrants in Moe, Newborough, Yallourn and Morwell. In 1968 he was chosen as Regional superior in Australia. At that time, the St Paul’s Missionary College in Wantirna South was inaugurated. After21yearsinAustralia,inNovember1977hemovedtoDetroit, USA to continue his pastoral work with the Maltese immigrants in this great metropolis. Apart from helping the Maltese, he was also appointed Parish Priest in two parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The work with the Maltese immigrants consisted Chapter 22.2 __________ MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF ST PAUL (MSSP)
  • 105. 107 USA in visiting them at their homes, in the hospital when the need arose, celebrating Mass and hearing of confessions in Maltese, attending funeral services and administering the sacrament of marriage. The contact with the Maltese never ceased, and he visited their clubs regularly.After 31 years in Detroit, in October 2008, he returned to Malta for a well-earned rest, having spent about 50 years serving Maltese migrants in two Continents. Three nuns first arrived in USA on October 5th, 1964, intending to open a Catholic Parish School in Louisiana, but Providence helped them to start teaching at Brandenburg, Kentucky, by September 1965. These were classes 1a, 2a, and 3a, all three Elementary. By 1st December 1965 a fourth nun joined them and by 1968 two others followed. The convent was completed by 1985. The nuns have ever since served the people of God in Brandenburg, at the parish of St. John the Apostle. Eventually, they distinguished themselves for their excellent teaching of students, but now their service consists mainly of the Pastoral care of the people, home visits and their animation of the Parish Liturgy. The families of the neighbourhood feel blessed by their presence, concern, care and help with which they have for so many years been favoured. On the 11th October 1957, the nuns were invited by the PIME (Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions) to lend a hand in the administration of a Seminary in Newark in the state of Ohio. This mission lasted for five years as the American Consul was not all that helpful in the granting of visas for the nuns to enter the USA and as a result, in December 1962 the mission wound up. This experience helped the nuns to reflect and as a result the congregation remained determined on its vocation to serve in far- off lands. Sr M. Rita DeFlavia of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who is from Marsa, has been serving in the United States since 1965. The diocese of Camden at that time needed English- speaking nuns and Sr De Flavia was chosen to meet this need. She served for forty fruitful years as elementary educator and administrator. For the last six years she has been working as a Pastoral Assistant and coordinator in two parishes. At present she is working in the Our Lady of Peace Parish in Williamstown, New Jersey. In 1965, Sister M. Dorothy Aloisio was one of the three nuns sent to the United States to teach in the school of Blackwood, New Jersey. Her Congregation was still new in this area and they needed English-speaking nuns. She worked as a teacher for seventeen years and another eight years as Principal. Apart from teaching at school they also taught catechism to children who did not attend a Catholic school. At present Sr Dorothy is serving in a parish of six thousand families. During these four years serving in this large parish, she has organized Scripture classes, served as member of the Parish Council, coordinator of the various ministries in the parish, apart from serving as Minister of the Eucharist. She has also served as a Diocesan Assistant Vocation Director for nine years. In 1958 Sister Bianca Camilleri, soon after taking her first vows, was sent on her first mission by Mother General to the Holy Land where she was received by Mother Provincial. Her first assignment was in Nazareth where she was asked to teach English in Elementary and High School and had time to finish her studies at the University. Sr Bianca describes these thirteen years in the Holy Land as very happy ones. Then, on returning to Malta for a short stay she was told to take all her personal belongings with her because she was Chapter 22.5 __________ FRANCISCAN SISTERS OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY (FMIHM) Chapter 22.3 __________ THE AUGUSTINIAN SISTERS (OSA) Chapter 22.4 __________ DAUGHTERS OF THE SACRED HEART (DSH)
  • 106. 108 The Americas going on another mission. Her second mission was to be in the United States of America where she has lived since 1971. Her principal mission is that of teaching different grades. For a good thirty years, she has been teaching Grade Four students, meaning nine and ten year olds. She is happy in the United States, but Sr Bianca still misses her first mission in the Holy Land.
  • 107. 109 Part Three CENTRALAMERICA In his publication on the Maltese Franciscans, covering their history between 1482 and 1965, the late Fr George Aquilina OFM stated that it is to the credit of the Provincial Alfons Camilleri that the Franciscan Order kept up its missionary zeal against all odds. His successor the Provincial Angelico Azzopardi insisted on re-instituting the Franciscan Missionary Society in all Franciscan churches, delegating this mission to Fr Alessio M. Galea. In the memoirs of the Provincial, we read that in 1957, during the General Chapter in Assisi, he was approached by the representative of the English- speaking friars who wished to discuss the possibility of a joint venture, by opening a mission in Central America comprising Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The plan was that the Maltese would work jointly with the Americans in the province of the Immaculate Conception. The English representative promised continued financial help. The ProvincialAlfonslikedthis,andonhisreturntoMaltalaunched the idea. In the first group he chose Fr Manuel Anthony Vella, Fr Felix Mansueto, Fr Diego Vella, Fr Conrad Sammut and Fr Godfrey Micallef. They left Malta in September 1959 for Rome to receive the missionary cross from the hands of Pope John XXIII himself. At first they found it difficult to gain a visa for any country in Central America and it was only in the middle of January 1960 that they were granted a visa to enter the United States. From there they hoped to proceed to Central America. Fr Emidio Cremona who was in Canada, joined the group through the intervention of Fr Godfrey. They arrived in Central America on the 24th of February, 1960. Fr Conrad was posted to Moyuta in Guatemala and the other three to Honduras: Fr Emidio to Catacamas to Olancho; Fr Manuel to Juticalpa Olancho and Fr Felix to Comayagueda. The American financial help was substantial. The mission was Gospel inspired and blessed by God, so much so that this mission of the Maltese Franciscans in Central America prospered. The Maltese Franciscans are serving the Church with two bishops and a Vicar General.
  • 108. 110 The Americas Chapter 23 ____________ EL SALVADOR Dom Oscar Romero was appointed Archbishop of El Salvador on 23rd. February 1977. His appointment was met with incredulity. While this appointment was welcomed by the government, many priests were disappointed, especially those openly aligning with Marxism. The progressive priests feared that his conservative reputation would negatively affect liberation theology’s commitment to the poor. On 12 March 1977, Rutilio Grande, a progressive Jesuit priest and personal friend of Romero who had been creating self- reliance groups among the poor campesinos, was assassinated. His death had a profound impact on Romero, who later stated, “When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, ‘If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path”. Tension was noted by the closure of schools.  Traditionally, the church had been seen as complicit in the aims of the state and military to privilege the wealthy and powerful while the majority of the population remained in abject poverty. After the death of Fr Rutilio Grande S.J., Archbishop Romero became an outspoken critic of the economic system practised in Guatemala, denouncing poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. As a result of his humanitarian efforts, Romero began to be noticed internationally. As Archbishop of El Salvador, he spoke out against the death squads and the terror campaign the government was using in an attempt to crush the guerrilla war that was being waged against them. This was seen as disloyalty and the number of priests attacked went up and even churches were shut down by the government. Despite persecution, Romero continued to speak out against the atrocities the government was committing against the people of El Salvador, until his untimely death. Romero was assassinated in March, 1980. A Difficult Mission for a Franciscan Priest Fr Gwann Schranz OFM Minor spent 17 difficult years in Central America, in the seventies and the eighties, when this part of the world was passing though serious political turmoil. The Maltese Franciscans went to Central America through the New York Province. Fr. Schranz went to the missions late in his priestly life. This is because the Order had sent him to Rome to study Church History and he was needed to lecture to young students. In his words, he was shy to ask to go to the missions once the Order had invested in him heavily to lecture in Church History. Later on, a young Franciscan also specialised in Church History, and Fr. Schranz thought that it was time for him to ask to go to the missions. His petition was accepted by his superiors. He arrived in CentralAmerica, at a time when the basic human rights of those who worked in the fields were trodden over by unscrupulous and atrocious land owners and when the Church, Bishops, priests, nuns and authentic even if controversial politicians decided to call it a day and backed the farmers in their struggle for land reform. The people had decided to resist and call for a just society, but they were too weak to El Salvador Airport: Painting of Dom Romero
  • 109. 111 El Salvador face dictatorial governments and their henchmen alone. So, the Church support was instrumental for their struggle. The renowned Bishop Oscar Romero and six Jesuits were assassinated because they openly defended the farmers. The message that the dictatorial government wanted to pass was clear: who defends the poor will be eliminated. At this time a humble and quiet Maltese priest, Fr. Gwann Schranz OFM, was working in El Salvador, having the option for the poor well defined in his life. He soon joined the ranks of other priests who were giving this support to the farmers, and as a result he perceived that he was earmarked by the authorities. On his arrival in his new parish he saw many people in the square going up and down. And he did not know right away what the entire hubbub was about, till he was informed that it was Election Day. He was warned to watch with whom he spoke, and what he spoke about. During the same time, a group of youths from Colombia arrived in his parish to give a hand. Fr. Schranz thought that as a first activity he could ask them to distribute the parish magazine so as to have an opportunity to meet the parishioners. What for him was an innocent suggestion turned out to be a fatal activity. The Colombian youths did not return to the parish house, and when he tried to find out what had happened he was told that the youths had been arrested. The local authorities judged that they were distributing subversive literature. Only then, did Fr. Schranz realize that the situation was very tense and difficult indeed. It took him two days of arguing to free them. On Sundays he used to celebrate Mass in two or three communities. On a particular Sunday when he was visiting a far off community, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions and baptising, he was called aside by an unknown person who told him that he came to know that he was writing a book, encouraging the campesinos to join the struggle against the landowners. Fr. Schranz, who in his words, did not even have the time to read a book, let alone to write a book, realized that the local authorities were following his footsteps for the simple reason that he was the new parish priest. One day, the sacristan, who used to sleep in the same spacious house, to give him some sort of protection, one night started knocking on his door murmuring that armed men had just entered the house thinking that he, the sacristan, was the parish priest and were using abusive language. At one time, because of all the tensions he was passing through, he travelled to Guatemala for a check- up. His superior thought it would be better for the time being to remain in Guatemala, because the situation in El Salvador was explosive. Still, Fr Schranz remained in the area (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) for fourteen whole years.
  • 110. 112 The Americas Chapter 24 ____________ GUATEMALA AssassinationofBishopGerardi Archbishop Juan José Gerardi, of Guatemala, was a strong defender of human rights in his country. He turned out to be one of the strongest voices speaking out against the atrocities committed by the military junta during the civil war which lasted 36 years.As a consequence of his outspoken opposition, Gerardi received a number of death threats and was forced to live in exile while President Romeo Lucas García remained in power. Gerardi was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Guatemala in 1984 and in 1989, he oversaw the creation of the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala (ODHAG). His most important work, however, was the Recovery of Historical Memory project (REMHI). Gerardi committed himself fully to this project with the intention of exposing the truth of what happened during the armed conflict so that the people of Guatemala would never again suffer such a tragedy. On April 24 1998, Gerardi presented the findings of the REMHI project in a report entitled ‘Nunca Más’ (Never Again). The report found that the military was responsible for 93% of the human rights violations committed during the 36- year period of civil war and that the guerrilla groups were responsible for 3%. The report was especially controversial because it was the first to provide the names of the implicated individuals. More than 1,000 individuals and military members were named in the report. On April 26 1998, two days after the release of the report, Bishop Gerardi was bludgeoned to death in his home in Guatemala City. This brutal murder of such a prominent Guatemalan figure was not handled professionally by either the police or the authorities, who failed to immediately link the murder to his political activities. Despite Guatemala’s unfortunate tendency for impunity in cases of violence against human rights defenders, three former military officers were eventually convicted of murdering Gerardi on June 8, 2001. The historic trial was the first time high-ranking military officials had been tried since the 1996 ruling that removed exclusive military tribunal jurisdiction for officers accused of civilian crimes. The three men were originally sentenced to 30 years in prison but later had their sentences reduced to only 20 years. The fact that these men were found guilty of the murder was a step forward for justice in Guatemala; however, this victory is hampered by the reduction in their sentences as well as the fact that the ‘intellectual author’ of the crime was never found.
  • 111. 113 Guatemala he was the only priest in a parish of 35 villages. It was difficult to visit some of them more than once a year. He relates that on one occasion he was shocked by a man who approached him after the Mass saying: “Father, you are closing the door to re-open it only next year.” Guatemala, with a population of 15 million, is a nation of great faith. But the lack of the presence of the Church is enormous. Fr Joseph felt it to be his duty to help the people. While there, he worked on two projects: Project Gozo which dealt with agriculture, and the other Project Hospital Juan Bautista, sponsored mainly by the Knights of Malta. The idea of building this hospital cropped up when a local woman complained that so many children were dying because nobody bothered to lift a finger to help. These words struck Fr Joseph. He held a Parish Council and the issue was discussed. The parishioners agreed that they needed a hospital and expected him to provide one. After some thought, Fr Joseph wrote to some friends in Malta, and within a few months a Maltese architect sent him a suggestion of a plan for a hospital. Fr Joseph felt that he could not shirk his responsibility.Already in his early seventies, he embarked upon the project, seeking the financial help of the Knights of the Order of Malta.And on the 8th December 2007, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, two years after that challenge, the first stone was laid in the presence of the Presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador, because the hospital was to be situated on the Highway which linked the two countries. Among the persons present was that Fr Joseph Camilleri of Gozo started his mission in New York, where he stayed for 22 years, working with Maltese immigrants. After being ordained in Gozo, he accepted an invitation from Bishop Fiordelli of Prato and worked with him for two marvellous years. When he eventually settled in New York, his fluency in Italian helped a lot. He was visiting relatives in New York when he realized the great need for priests there. He decided to remain. In the region of Long Island alone, there were about 20,000 Maltese immigrants. He worked in five parishes. The elderly amongst the Maltese and the Gozitans preserved their culture and the faith as received in Malta. They tried to pass it on to their sons and daughters but the American culture was stronger and many of the Maltese traditions were lost. Christmas and Easter were still celebrated, but nothing more than that. The presence of a Maltese priest helped to revive religious sentiment. Many returned to the sacraments. The Maltese immigrant felt secure in the presence of a Maltese priest. Fr Joseph spent seven years working in a hospital, and felt very much fulfilled. After this experience in the USA, Fr Joseph made a radical change by going to Guatemala in Central America, leaving all the American luxury behind and getting involved in serious social problems. The biggest problem for Fr Joseph was that Chapter 24.1 ____________ DIOCESAN PRIESTS
  • 112. 114 The Americas woman and Fr Joseph called her from her place. She saluted the two Presidents in silence, and returned to her place. The first patients that entered the hospital were parishioners who never had the opportunity to go to a hospital before. Doctors from the USA, Canada and Cuba offered their services, providing surgery to the poor. Ayudar e Servir is the emblem of the hospital. The hospital separates the patients in five categories: those that fall in category A pay all the costs; those who fall in category B have a small reduction; those of category C obtain up to 50% reduction; those of category D fall in economy class and those who fall in category E pay nothing at all. The majority of the patients fall in classes C, D, and E. Yet all receive the same medical care. Rev. Fr Anton Grech of Gozo. San Manuel Chaparron is a municipality in Guatemala bordering El Salvador. Apart from being geographically dispersed and isolated, technological advances have often bypassed this community, a symptom of the great inequalities prevailing in the country where poverty and deprivation are concentrated in dispersed rural areas. Fr Anton Grech worked hard to build the school Colegio Madre Teresa, offering quality education to hundreds of village children, most of whom had never stepped inside a school. And all this was possible thanks to the generosity of the Maltese and Gozitans whose help included introducing internet in the school. The project was backed by the expertise of Carmelo Agius, an international aquaculture consultant, and Maltese funds. Together with his two brothers Anthony and Mario, Mr Alex Scicluna of the Café Jubilee spent six weeks in Guatemala. He managed to raise enough money to set up an internet café within the village’s school, Colegio Madre Teresa, to link the isolated community of Chaparron with the rest of the world. Villagers in this remote part of Guatemala are receiving much-needed protein for their diet due to a fish farm that was installed. The fish farm is another dream come true for Fr Anton Grech. When excavation work for the fish farm was completed, a group of Maltese volunteers from the Mission Fund flew over to help complete the project. The fish farm Fr Anton Grech and his parishioners
  • 113. 115 Guatemala spawns tilapia, an indigenous and sturdy fish, which is easy to reproduce under local conditions and is the most resistant species to low oxygen levels and disease. The next business venture was to help Fr Anton raise more money for the fish farm’s capital and operating costs. The Maltese expert is no fish out of water in Guatemala. An e-mail landed in Prof. Carmelo Agius’s inbox, revealing the good news from a remote part of Guatemala: 1,000 fish had been produced in the breeding tank. This meant that the fish farm that the Maltese aquaculture and fisheries expert had conceived and designed was operating effectively. Weeks earlier, Prof. Agius had joined over 600 locals at the official opening of the fish farm on a Guatemalan hillside. The farm is located in an area called Quebrada Honda in San Manuel Chaparron, a municipality in Guatemala bordering El Salvador where the parish of Fr Anton Grech lies. Prof. Agius has also helped to set up similar farms across the world, but this is the first project to which he has committed his time and expertise on a voluntary basis. The idea for the farm came about four years ago when Prof. Agius was working on developing a shrimp farm in nearby Ecuador. A friend informed him that an attempt by Fr Grech to encourage impoverished locals to grow tomatoes for export had run into difficulty due to tariffs and taxes. Prof. Agius visited the area and discovered it had a suitable river that could sustain a fish farm. What is more, he was impressed by the dynamism of Fr Grech and the spirit of the local people, and so decided to help. It was erected by local builders and Maltese volunteers from the Mission Fund who spent five weeks there in the summer of 2007. The cost of the project is estimated at around €200,000, most of which came from Maltese donations. As well as the Mission Fund, the project received valuable financial and material assistance from Attard Farm Supplies, AJD Tuna Ltd., Fish and Fish Ltd. and Café Jubilee. Guatemala suffered a devastating civil war from 1960 until 1996, and Prof.Agius says that, although the country is making progress, social problems related to high unemployment persist. Many men from the area smuggle their way into the US and although some of them send money back, many others lose contact. This has led to a shortage of skilled labour and a population made up mostly of women and children. Prof. Agius is optimistic that by providing much-needed employment opportunities, “people will gain hope and their lives will get better”. Mr Charles Decelis recounts his experience in Progett Tama 2007 - San Manuel Chaparron, Guatemala: Thanks to the Mission Fund and their Progett Tama, Project Hope, Mr DecelisfoundhimselfinSanManuelChaparroninGuatemala. The people impressed him with their warmth. Their strength and resilience inspired him to give his best. He and the other volunteers, twenty two in all, including the spiritual director, assisted in building an extension to a rehabilitation centre and help in the building of a fish farm. Trenches were dug, soil was shifted and bricks were carried. They got on very well with local workers and they never failed to communicate with the locals. After five weeks of hard work these people have a fish farm that will provide them with jobs and food. Since 1992 the Mission Fund has undertaken similar projects in different countries. Progett Tama worked in Peru, Kenya, Guatemala, Tunisia and Algeria.
  • 114. 116 The Americas Fr Tony Mercieca MC, still a seminarian, jointly with Fr. Paul Chetcuti S.J. and others, founded the Third World Group in 1975and had their first experience with the poor in Palermo, where they received those abandoned in the streets in a huge convent used by the Order of Mother Theresa. They were a group of 26 youths, amongst which were university students and manual workers. They took care of 40 elderly people abandoned by their families, and about 100 street children. He first met Mother Theresa in 1976 when she visited Malta at the invitation of the De La Salle Brothers. In 1979 he met her again in India during a summer camp that was organised by the Third World Group. After being ordained priest a year later, still in the first months of his priesthood, he asked Archbishop Mercieca for permission to join the Sisters of Charity of Mother Theresa as a priest and as a Brother. The Archbishop, after pondering for some time, realized that Fr. Tony was mature enough to take this decision, and consented. Fr. Tony MC had Fr. Arthur Vella S.J. as spiritual Director. The latter, told him that following his various experiences, it was time to decide what he wished to do. “Life is not made up only of experiences,” Fr. Vella emphasized. Fr. Tony entered in contact with Brother Andrew MC, who was responsible for the Brothers, and explained to him that he did not intend to administer solely the sacraments as a priest, but wanted to physically take care of the poor, as the Brothers do: wash them, wash their clothes, wash the floors and take care of their health, administering medicines and dressing their wounds. His mission took him first to Los Angeles for his formation, which lasted for two years, then he went to Paris and Stockholm, where he helped open a House of Mother Theresa, to Manchester, where he helped open and run a house of formation, to Bogota in Colombia, where he served as Provincial for all Latin America, and then to Haiti, where he served for ten years between 1998 and 2008, From there he moved to Guatemala City, where he is still serving, at a time when the capital was infested by bandits. In Guatemala City, Fr. Tony MC gives great importance to the pastoral work with prisoners. He visits the prisons three times a week. During Lent, he spends two days hearing confessions of the prisoners where they relate their life and ask forgiveness of God. He spends Holy Week in two prisons where they pray the Holy Passion in a procession going around the prisons, concluding the ceremony with the adoration of the Cross. A very moving ceremony indeed, when celebrated in a prison. On Easter Sunday, Fr. Tony spends most of his time in one prison or the other. On one occasion, he baptised two prisoners, who after being catechised asked for baptism to confirm their conversion. He also organizes retreats for the inmates in the prisons. Fr. Tony confesses that he has and has had his difficult moments but he always prays the Lord to persevere in his vocation. Fr. Tony Mercieca Chapter 24.2 ____________ MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY (MC)
  • 115. 117 Honduras Chapter 25 ____________ HONDURAS Chapter 25.1 ____________ THE FRIARS MINOR (OFM) Mgr Robert Camilleri Azzopardi, Bishop of Comayagua in Honduras, Central America, born in Ham run on the 24th April 1951, was ordained priest on the 29th June of the Holy Year 1975, jointly with more than 400 priests from all over the world, by Pope Paul VI. After his priestly ordination he served as Master of Novices for three years. He started his mission in Honduras in August 1979 as vice parish priest of La Libertad parish dedicated to St Anne. After 18 months he became parish priest, in which position he served for 13 years. It was a parish comprising over 78 villages, which in those days were very poor, without electricity or running water, and very bad roads. He often had to travel on horseback for hours on end. To visit this great number of communities, very often Fr Robert had to start out at 4.00am so as to visit three villages in one day. In one of these chapels, Fr Robert used to spend the night in the small sacristy. There was a small open space in the wall, but there was not any window installed, just a small curtain. As a result, he was often visited by a number of bats during the night which needless to say did not help him rest at all, tired as he was after having travelled 10 hours on horseback. In the morning, he would nevertheless continue with his visits to the faithful living in the mountain villages of the parish. After 12 years in La Libertad, Fr Robert was asked to take care of the parish of El Calvario in the periphery of the capital, Tegucigalpa. Whilst in La Libertad, he had built 73 chapels and three big churches and three convents. Now, in this new parish in the ever-growing poor periphery of the capital, Fr Robert could not find a place in the barrios (neighbourhoods) to celebrate Mass. Many times he had to content himself by celebrating Mass for the faithful outdoors, under the shade of some trees. He made the acquaintance of the ambassador of the Order of the Knights of St John. His wife, a Honduran, owned a considerable piece of land. Fr Robert bought a part of it at a reasonable price and built two chapels, one dedicated to Our Lady, Mother of the Church and a larger one dedicated to the Holy Spirit, with a capacity of 800 seats. Later on, he built the presbytery, a chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, a big parish
  • 116. 118 The Americas hall, and a football ground, a basket-ball pitch and ample space for other sports to attract the younger generation to Jesus Christ. In 1993 he was appointed Superior of the Franciscan Mission, and in 1995 as Rector of St Francis’ Institute in Tegucigalpa, built by the Province in the 1950’s. Two thousand three hundred students studied there, varying from kindergarten, primary and secondary, which led them to the University. He was in charge of the building of a housing project for the poor in Tegucigalpa, named the Bernard Dazzi Village, consisting of 134 houses and a church dedicated to St Clare of Assisi with a capacity of a thousand persons seated. He was created auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, by Pope John Paul II on the 26th July 2001, and was ordained bishop by His Eminence, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez, SDB, of Tegucigalpa, on the 15th August 2001. Tegucigalpa was the largest diocese of Honduras with a population of three million Catholics. In his new mission, he had the opportunity to visit all the parishes, encouraging members of the Catholic movements, administering the sacrament of Confirmation to thousands, getting to know the priests of the diocese, their problems and their projects. In various parishes there were as many as 500 youths who were confirmed, every year. An important pastoral activity to which Bishop Robert dedicated himself was the care of the prisoners.Aprison could house as many as four thousand inmates. The situation in the prisons was very difficult. There were different rival gangs, who were enemies of each other. He had a chapel built inside the prison compound dedicated to Christ the Redeemer which could seat 200 persons at a time and where he would celebrate the Eucharist frequently. He would spend time for confessions and for spiritual direction. On the 24th of July 2004, Bishop Robert became Titular Bishop of the Diocese of Comayagua in Central Honduras, with a population of 700,000 Catholics. One of the important decisions he undertook was the building of a new Seminar, because the number of vocations were on the increase. There were 27 major seminarians studying philosophy andTheology. This project was very important so that the local Church, in the future, would not depend any more on missionaries coming from abroad, but would have its own clergy. As a follow up to the last Latin American Meeting in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil, the church in Honduras is insisting with seminarians and local priests, to help other dioceses who might need their help. When Bishop Robert took office there were twenty four parishes and thirty priests in the diocese and now after eight years of service as a Bishop there are thirty-five parishes served by fifty-eight priests. 25. 2 New Bishop of Juticalpa: Mgr Jose Bonello Pope Benedict XVI nominated the Gozitan Fr Jose Bonello Bishop Jose Bonello
  • 117. 119 Honduras Bishop of the Diocese of Juticalpa, Honduras on 27th . February 2012. Fr Jose Bonello was born at Xagħra, Gozo, Malta on the 4th April 1961. He started his novitiate with the Friars Minor on the 2nd of October 1977, taking his solemn vows on 28th August 1983. He was ordained priest in July 1985 at the hands of Archbishop Joseph Mercieca.Since September 1989 he has been a missionary in Central America, practicing his pastoral work in the parish of Santa Ana de La Libertad in the diocese of Comayagua. For the first three years he served as vice parish priest and then parish priest till his nomination as Coadjutor of Juticalpa. Contemporaneously he was also chosen for three periods as Counsellor for Central America for the Franciscan Foundation of the Province of the Immaculate Conception of New York. On the 13th November 2009 he was nominated Vicar General of the Diocese of Comayagua by the Bishop of the diocese, Mgr Robert Camilleri OFM. Bishop Jose spent his priestly life accompanying the faithful in their search for the true faith, dedicating himself in favour of the human dignity supporting education, the arts and the formation of the persons committed to the workers´ world. As a motto for his new Ministry he chose Patientia Omnia Potest (Patience Can Achieve Everything) because experience had taught him that patience is the virtue necessary to attain that which is good and to aspire for that which is better: “preach the Word, insist on all occasions favorable or not, try to convince and correct, and encourage with every type of teaching and patience” (2 Tim 4:2). The social projects like Santa Gertrudis and others are the result of the initiative of Fr Albert Gauci who for the last 25 years has been working in Juticalpa Olancho. Olancho forms part of the Franciscan Province Imaculada Concepcion of New York. In these projects Fr Albert Gauci received the unconditional backing of his Bishop, Mgr Mauro Muldoon.At present they are administered by the Hermanas Franciscanas Fr.Gauci, on the left with the vice-president of Honduras The Footbal Ground The new Bisop visiting the nuns
  • 118. 120 The Americas The Prison Cooperadoras Paroquiales de La Asuncion. The Children’s Shelter Santa Maria de los Angeles was founded in 2002 in response to the urgent need of children who live in areas with high social risk. Most have been abandoned by their parents. The Hermanas Franciscanas Cooperadoras Paroquias de la Asuncion has been responsible for this House since the beginning and has been instrumental in giving these children a happier and safer childhood. Fr Albert has been a real father to them. He has sought to instill in every child confidence, happiness and love. He passed on to them the Franciscan Spirit, always attentive that nothing that is necessary is lacking. They are inspired by the words of Jesus in the gospel: “Who receives one of these children it is Me whom he receives”. (Luke 9:48) Other projects consist of the Centro Nutricional Sao Francisco de Assisi founded in 1992. This distributes food, toys and spiritual help to children from the neighborhood. The Medical Clinic Santa Clara, founded in 1999, provides medical help to thesamechildren.ThehousefortheelderlyPazeBienfounded in 2000 receives elderly people who do not have a guaranteed shelter. A kindergarten Centre dedicated to Sao Francisco de Assisi was opened in 1996 to support the poor families and unmarried mothers in the education of their children. A small bakery was also opened with the aim of helping to support all these initiatives. Today the demand has grown so much that 19 people are employed to work in the bakery. The diocese went through very difficult times when the Church was persecuted; two priests were killed and the Bishop had to flee. When Pope John Paul II visited Honduras in 1983, he appointed a new Bishop in the person of Mgr Mauro Muldoon, with Fr Albert Gauci serving as Vicar General. Now, Fr Joe Bonello, a Gozitan, is succeeding Bishop Muldoon (who is suffering from cancer) as titular Bishop. In Honduras the pastoral life is very tough, as one has to travel four or more hours on horseback to reach the villages. Under Mgr Muldoon the diocese has made tangible progress. Once it had only four parishes. Today the diocese has 12 parishes and 19 seminarians, of whom 12 are indigenous. According to Fr Albert, Honduras has two serious problems: Corruption, which is ingrained in the system, and the serious lack of education. A scholastic year should consist of 200 school days. In Honduras, in most areas, a school year can be for as few as 92 days. He is doing his best to introduce the children in his orphanage to a church school, so low is the standard in the Public Schools. FrAlbert acknowledges that the Church is greatly respected in Honduras. Church documents are highly appreciated. Her position on fundamental matters is taken into consideration. Through the pastoral activity with youths, certain leaders emerged in the trade unions and other social movements. As the priest responsible for five prisons, Fr Albert used to visit them every Saturday, jointly with a number of youths, distributing food, sweets, cigarettes and clothes, and praying with them whilst celebrating the Mass. The conditions in these prisons are atrocious. Built some 100 years ago, they
  • 119. 121 Honduras were meant to receive 90 prisoners. Today they hold as many as 500 prisoners, who take turns to sleep in shifts of two hours at a time. Chest infections and Aids are rampant. Fr Albert, jointly with his companions, tried to awaken the conscience of the community. An architect friend of his planned a Rehabilitation centre for 800 persons. A plot of eight acres was donated. The prison was to be equipped with a kitchen, a basket-ball pitch and a small hospital for 30 persons. This project was to cost one million dollars. All sorts of activities were organized to raise funds, and they succeeded in obtaining from the President of Honduras a cheque covering half of the expenses. The people of Olancho got enthusiastic with the idea and donations flowed in: sacks of cement, truck loads of sand, bricks, iron. Some even offered a day of work. Within a year the dream that Olancho will have a dignified prison came true. The President of Honduras praised the communitarian effort. The Bishop blessed the new prison in the presence of some 6000 people. But the most moving moment was a speech delivered by one of the prisoners: “I believe that today we are making history. It is unheard of that a Franciscan Friar in any other place of the world has built a prison”. The crowd present applauded. Fr Angelo Falzon was sent to Honduras in 1985 and his first appointment was in the parish Sant’ Ana, La Libertad, Comayagua, assisting Fr Robert Camilleri Azzopardi, today bishop of Comayagua. He considered this first appointment as a blessing, because it helped him learn the language, the people´s culture and traditions. He was later transferred to the parish Imaculada y San Antonio. This is an extensive parish consisting of 75 small villages, without roads, and the few that existed, in very poor condition. Most of the villagers could only be reached on horseback. These villages have no electricity, no running water even less telephone lines or cars. The people are very poor and their houses are primitive. In January 2001 the new Bishop Robert divided the parish in two, and Fr Angelo served in the part dedicated to Imaculada Concepcion. At the moment the parish consists of 40 villages. From time to time a new village crops up. The last three villages that appeared recently are called Tabloncito, Mata de Platano and Puenha Montanita. His Pastoral Work started by rebuilding six big churches that were crumbling. They were in such a bad state that it was even difficult to find a building contractor to take the responsibility. Then a big Centre was built as a retreat house for the weekends. It consisted of a conference room, two big dormitories, a refectory with kitchen, a spacious chapel and a garden. They also built two big halls in Aguanqueterique, to receive as many as 1400 persons, and the other in Lauterique was complete with kitchen and restrooms. In time, 40 chapels in forty different villages were built, together with a big church along the highway that divides Honduras and El Salvador. Apart from these buildings, they also constructed a Centre for the Youths, and a workshop to teach sewing, carpentry and other trades. Clothes were distributed annually, non- perishable food every month, and medicines as needs arise. The parishioners of every village know when the parish priest will be visiting them, by following a timetable. They have dedicated every village to a different Saint and organize weekly Bible courses which were very well attended. At the moment, the parish has 230 laity helping in the various villages. The late Fr Pietru Pawl Meilak, born in 1922 in Nadur, Gozo, was ordained priest in 1949, and on his first mission he accompanied several groups of Maltese immigrants to Adelaide, Australia repeating these trips for ten years. In 1975 he was asked by the same immigrants to return to Adelaide. In 1985, at the age of 63 years, he asked to join the Franciscan Mission in Central America, where he remained till 2007. He returned to Malta at the venerable age of 85 having spent 22 years in Central America including Guatemala and El Salvador. He died in April 2013. In Honduras he worked for twelve years in the Diocese of
  • 120. 122 The Americas of Culmi, Catacamas as agrarian reform cooperatives, was also taken separately with some peasant leaders to Los Horcones. The other people killed at Los Horcones included two women, Ruth Mayorquin and Maria Elena Bolivar. Plaques remembering and honouring all those who were killed permanently hang in the Catholic Church of San Francisco in Catacamas. It was several days after the march that the victims’ bodies were found naked, stuffed in a well on the property “Los Horcones.”  Some of the bodies showed signs of torture. According to Blanco and Valverde, even before Los Horcones, there was hostility between cattle ranchers and Father Betancourt. In 1970, landowners attempted to have him and Luis Emilio Henao thrown out of the country.  In 1971, the Association of Ranchers of Olancho (AGO) denounced Bishop D’Antonio and Father Betancourt for promoting land invasions.  In Catacamas, Olancho, a paramilitary group was formed -- Frente Democratico (FRED), which harassed the priests.  Acts of intimidation included throwing sticks of dynamite against the parish walls. After the massacre of peasants near Talanquera, the bishop was arrested. Supposedly the price on Betancourt’s and D’Antonio’s heads were $25,000 each.  Father Betancourt worked with the Pech Indians of several communities near Culmi to obtain a land title in upper Maranones, now known as Pueblo Nuevo Subirana, on the edge of the Rio Platano Biosphere.  This was in response to land conflicts in areas where the Zelaya family, owners of Honduras Plywood and other logging concerns, were exploiting wood. The Massacre of Los Horcones was seen as a clash between the interests of large landowners and the social activism of the church of the time.  Now that peace and civilian governments are returning to Central America, the Catholic Church and social organizations like the UNC enjoy more freedom of speech.   Olancho, during which he helped in the building of fourteen chapels, a clinic and a convent for the nuns in the mountainous regionofHonduras.Itwasveryhardforhimtovisitthevillages in this mountainous region where thousands of Indigenous were scattered. But when the time of celebrating the Mass, administer the baptism to the indigenous people, and help in the formation of the catechists arrived, he used to forget all the hardships suffered during hazardous journeys in his old age. After all, these villages were so remote and numerous that he could visit these communities only once a year. Fr Pietru Pawl always sought the help and protection of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu not only to come to his help in his pastoral activities, but also because politically the whole region of Central America was in turmoil, culminating in the death of Archbishop Romero and the six Jesuits, in Nicaragua. On one occasion when he was celebrating Mass in one of these remote chapels his chapel was surrounded by guerrillas who were on their way to the battlefield. Los Horcones Massacre – June 25, 1975 June 25th 1975 is still remembered as a dark day in Honduran history known as “Los Horcones Massacre,” according to Wendy Griffin. One June 25, 1975, nearly 1,000 farmers or campesinos in Olancho were preparing to go to Tegucigalpa to participate in the March of Hunger sponsored by the National Union of the Peasants (UNC).  Some of these campesinos were at the Centro de Capacitacion Santa Clara in Olancho.  There Father Michael Jerome Zypher (Padre Casimiro) was arrested and taken to the Juticalpa jail. From the Juticalpa jail, he was taken to the “Los Horcones” ranch owned by Mel Zelaya, according to sociologists Gustavo Blanco and Jaime Valverde, authors of “Honduras Church and Social Change (Honduras: Iglesia y Cambio Social).  OntheranchFatherCasimirowasinterrogatedbyagentsoftheinfamous National Directorate of Intelligence (DIN), at that time under the control of Honduras’ military, and representatives of the army and cattlemen until he was killed. Father Ivan Betancourt, a Columbian priest working in the municipality
  • 121. 123 26.1 Diocesan Priests Fr Paul Buttigieg, after being called from Chile to Malta, served for two and a half years as vice-rector at the Malta Seminary. But the urge to serve the Church outside our shores kept burning in him. The opportunity to go to Cuba was in the wake of the first and historic visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba in 1988. Mgr Beniamino Stella, who served in Malta as Charge d`Affaires, was at that time Apostolic Nuncio in Cuba. He knew well Mgr Mercieca, so the communication between them was easy. Mgr Stella acquired for Fr Paul a visa for three months, and in October 1998 left for Cuba. His Mission in Cuba His first months in Cuba were spent substituting priests who had not had a holiday for years. Mgr Gonzales, consecrated Bishop by his predecessor Mgr Fernando Prego, appointed Fr Buttigieg parish priest at the Cathedral. There he was helped by a good number of lay people, besides the nuns of the Order Siervas de San José. During this short period, Fr Frans Part Four THE CARRIBEAN Chapter 26 ____________ CUBA Baldacchino OFM Cap from Marsa spent a sabbatical year in Cuba and worked in the parish Sant Anna at Santa Clara. When Fr Baldacchino returned to Kenya, he was eventually consecrated the first Bishop of the diocese of Malindi situated in the south-east of Kenya. His place was filled by Fr Philip Cutajar from Żebbuġ who served in Cuba till 2012. In February 1999, Fr Buttigieg was appointed parish priest of Santa Clara Parish in the city of Santa Clara itself in the province of Las Vilas. Santa Clara is a town of a quarter of a million people, divided in five parishes. The practising Catholics are around 5%, which presents quite a challenge for the Church in Cuba. The churches in these five parishes Pe Buttigieig
  • 122. 124 The Americas were all built before the revolution. Since then, no permit for new churches has been issued. To compensate for this lack of a proper church or chapel, the priests say Mass and teach catechism in the houses. Fr Buttigieg had as much as fifteen communities to visit. For a time he took care of another two parishes, till two local priests were ordained. In these parishes he was helped by the nuns of Amor de Dios. The experience Fr Buttigieg acquired in Malta serving as vice-rector served him well, because he found himself in charge of the Pastoral Vocacional of the diocese.  In September 2007, Fr Buttigieg was asked to move to the Parish dedicated to the Immaculate Conception in Sagua La Grande, some 50 kilometres distant from Santa Clara. In these larger countries, although the population of the parish would be around 54,000, the size of the parish itself would be that of the whole of Malta. In the centre of this parish, there is another huge historical church which formed part of a College once built by the Jesuits, but which in 1961 was confiscated by the government. There are two other chapels, one dedicated to the Virgen de La Caridad in a district called Sitiecito, a sugar factory, and another situated in a fishing village called Isabela. There is a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Carmel. The parish has 14 fairly large communities catered for by two churches. Together with a good number of lay people, one finds the nuns known as Religiosas de Maria Immaculada who are of great help in the parish. Since March 2011, three members of the MUSEUM have joined this parish. Fr Philip Cutajar had to return to Malta after twelve years of hard work. In La Habana arrived Fr Luċjan Borg OSA who was provincial of the Augustinians. Habana is four hours away by car from Sagua La Grande but the priests try to keep in contact as best they can. On Religious Liberty OnreligiouslibertyFrButtigiegleftthiscomment:“TheChurch always celebrated Mass and taught Catechism internally and not in the open. But, even so, those who attended would have to pay the consequences: barred from becoming teachers or joining the army. Top positions in the army are not for Church people. There are restrictions even in the industries, although these restrictions are lately diminishing. “The space on the media is very limited. That a bishop dies is no news. That a new bishop is consecrated is also no news.
  • 123. 125 When the bishops go to Rome for their Ad Limina visit, it has no news value. There was a time when the bishops used to go Ad Limina in small groups and not all together. They feared that the government would deny them the visa to return. When the present bishop assumed the diocese, in the presence of the authorities, he asked to be allowed to preach the Gospel to the guajiros, the local word for farmers and village people. For thirteen years the permission was refused, except for the Christmas or Easter Mass or on the occasion of some national pilgrimage of Our Lady. Recently there were some signs of change for the better, but the steps taken are small and gradual”. Projects In the early sixties the government took into its hands all the ongoing projects of social assistance, with some exceptions like a Centre for the Elderly. This remained in the hands of the Sisters of Charity, and a mental hospital which is run by the Friars San Juan de Dios in Habana. Orphanages, clinics or schools are out of bounds for the Church. Those Congregations which left Cuba because their schools were confiscated could now return to the island to do pastoral work in the parishes. But they are prohibited from opening schools. There are some projects of human promotion sponsored by Caritas, such as help for those who suffer from Down Syndrome and their dependents, distribution of food and cleaning of clothes for the elderly and persons in need. Other projects sponsored by foreign organisations like the restoration of historical buildings including the churches are allowed. Significant Moments However, all is not lost. Lately a new beginning, a new awakening, started in the church in the mid- eighties. The Cuban Church embarked on discussions at its base level, to formulate a plan, starting at the parish level, then on a diocesan level and in the end on a National level. The result was the publication of ENEC - Encuentro Nacional Eclesial Cubano. The Church studied Cuban Society from different angles. What emerged was a Church not overtaken by fear, on the defence and marginalised. From the document, an open Cuba and living Church emerged, one that wants to play its part in society in this crucial moment in the history of the nation. Apart from this came the celebrations commemorating the 500 years since the « discovery » of the Americas in 1492. On that occasion Pope John Paul II sent a Cross to be taken round all the parishes. The celebrations and mass gatherings were not to be held in the open squares but inside the churches to give an opportunity to the people to shed away their fear of physically entering the churches that they had abandoned for decades. This coincided with the time of the fall of the Communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe. In the beginning of the nineties, a great Pilgrimage was held with the statue of Virgen Peregrina, preserved in the Sanctuary of El Cobre near Santiago de Cuba. The people have a great devotion for this image. Even those who had deserted the churches still had this image of the Virgen Peregrina in their homes, and this has helped them save their faith. Great merit for the conservation of this religiosity is that of the grandmothers and grandfathers, who passed on to their grandchildren the religiosity that the parents had failed to pass to their children. A generation was lost, but the grandparents succeeded in passing to their grandchildren. As a result of the participation of the children, their parents, the lost generation, started to be interested and various asked to be catechized, Monument in Memory of the Visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba
  • 124. 126 The Americas baptized and to receive Holy Communion.  InAugust 2010, another National Pilgrimage with the Image of Our Lady of Mambisa, known as the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Patron of Cuba, was organized. This came to an end in December 2011, thus commemorating the 400th anniversary since the discovery of this image by three youths in the sea. Despite the rough seas, the image remained dry. This Jubilee bore the motto: To Jesus through Mary – Charity unites us. Great preparations were made for the first visit of Pope John Paul during five memorable days. The Pope celebrated his first Mass in Cuba in Santa Clara where he made an important speech on the family. After the visit of the Pope, the atmosphere changed for the better: 40 priests entered Cuba in the first year after his visit, Fr Buttigieg included. Cuba with a population of eleven million has thirteen bishops, two of them emeritus, about 300 priests and a Cardinal. It is hoped that the visit of Pope Benedict XVI would help foment more priestly and religious vocations. 26.2 The Franciscan Capuchins The arrival of Fr Philip Cutajar OFM Cap in Cuba could not be more unfortunate. His bags never arrived. He had to start his stay in Cuba with literally nothing. Another difficult moment was when the bishop earmarked him for two parishes. The parishioners of one of the two parishes were opposed to their current parish priest being transferred. The parish he eventually worked in was in Santa Clara. There, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the poor parish. The people of the other parish perceiving his good will changed their mind and learnt to accept him too. Fr Cutajar notes with satisfaction the visits of several voluntary workers from Malta together with Fr. Martin Micallef parish priest of Wied il-Ghajn, with whom existed a parish twinning between St. Anne Parish of Wied il-Ghajn and Fr Cutajar’s parish which was also dedicated to St. Anne. In response to this in 2006 a group of Cuban parishioners visited Malta. Another important visit was that of some members of the MUSEUM who went to study the possibility of sending members as lay missionaries, and seminarians who preferred to make a pastoral experience in Cuba. On the lst December 2005 Fr. Cutajar received the Premio Esperanza which is bestowed by the government of Cuba on those who dedicate themselves in a special way for the victims of Aids. It was some Aids patients who suggested his name to the ministry of Health. Fr Cutajar considered this honour given more to the Catholic Church by a Communist regime than to him personally. On the other hand, Fr. Cutajar had to wait for seven years to gain the permission to build a church, which on the other hand was the first permission given for the building of a church in fifty years of communist rule. On one occasion, when people lost their homes in a typhoon, Fr Cutajar stopped the building of his church and offered his material for the building of the houses. 26.3 Lay Missionaries Providence willed that the visas for the three SDC Members to enter Cuba was issued on the day when the Society was commemorating the first meeting that the Founder, St George Preca, had held with a group of young men in a small house in Hamrun. After completing the induction programme, the Members started working on the final preparations before heading for Cuba. On Wednesday, 23rd March 2011, a special general meeting was held in which the General Superior augured them well, and gave them the sign of peace on behalf of all the Society. Superior Joseph Buttigieg and Members John Mifsud and Roberto Zammit also shared short messages and reflections. These members flew to Spain for a short visit and on Monday 28th March 2011, at around 21:00 Cuba time, landed in Havana. There they found Fr Paul Buttigieg, the parish priest who had been so helpful since the initial stages of this new mission.
  • 125. 127 Cuba Popular devotion Miguelin Caro a Cuban layman, John Carmel Mifsud SDC, Joe Buttigieg SDC and Roberto a Cubn layman On the left, Mgr. Arnaldo Fernandez berroa Vicar Geral , John Carmel Mifsud SDC, Roberto SDC, Mgr Marcelo Arturo, Bishop of Santa Clarade”. González Amador. Fr Philip Cutajar OFM. Cap, Joe Buttigieg SDC and Fr Buttigieg
  • 126. 128 The Americas 27.1 Diocesan Priests Monsignor Peter Baldacchino never imagined that he would become a priest, let alone a missionary. He had found his place in society with a good job as Technical Manager with Canada Dry. He was attending the 4th World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela in 1989, when he unexpectedly heard the call to the priesthood, but he was reluctant to respond to the call at the time since he felt that he had other responsibilities back home. He tried to convince himself that he had no vocation. Helped by the brethren of the Neo-Catechumenal Way of which he was a member, and supported by his Parish Priest, the late Dun Manwel Agius, in October 1990 Peter finally responded to the call to the priesthood and was sent to the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Seminary of Newark, New Jersey, USA, where he completed his formation to the Priesthood. Thisseminaryisoneofthe64seminariesthattheCatechumenal Way of Life spread all over the world. He graduated from Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey with a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry and on 25th May 1996 he was ordained presbyter of the Archdiocese of Newark. Anumber of Maltese young men have since followed - each to one or other of these mushrooming international missionary seminaries. Similar fruits of the Neo-Catechumenal Way in Malta abound. There are at present three ordained priests with a number of young Maltese men undergoing formation in different Catholic dioceses along with other Redemptoris Mater seminarians from Communities from different parts of the world - a missionary mix, in formation. Fr Peter first served at the Parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Ridgewood, New Jersey. From there the then Chapter 27 ____________________ TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
  • 127. 129 Turks and Caicos Islands Archbishop (now Cardinal) Theodore E. McCarrick posted him to the Missio Sui Iuris of the Turks and Caicos Islands (British West Indies). Today he is still working there with a Canadian, a Philippine and a Malaysian priest – the three from the Archdiocese of Newark, U.S.A. Eventually he became Parish Priest of Our Lady of Divine Providence Parish on Providenciales Island where at first a mere nine persons used to attend Mass in July 1999. Today, Sunday Mass attendance has risen to 1,000 persons. In 2009 Pope Benedict XVI saw fit to name Fr Peter Baldacchino as Chaplain to His Holiness, an honour bestowed on him for his zeal. Monsignor Peter Baldacchino continues his active ministry in the Turks and Caicos Islands where he established the Holy Family Academy Catholic School in August 2006. In 2011, he completed the building of Saint Lucy Chapel on South Caicos Island, an outreach of Holy Cross Church on Grand Turk Island (the nation’s Capital) and a new Rectory/Parish Hall in Grand Turk, following the destruction of the priests’ residence by category 5 Hurricane Ike in September 2008. On 5th February 2012 Our Lady of Divine Providence Parish on Providenciales Island, where Monsignor Baldacchino is the parish priest, celebrated the dedication of the newly constructed Church, ad maiorem Dei gloriam. His community in this parish numbers some 300 families. The beautiful Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos – some 40 of them (totalling around 200 sq. miles), with the nation’s capital and seat of government on the island of Grand Turk – are geographically part of the Bahama Banks. They are a British crown colony with its own government, yet the U.S. dollar is its currency. The islands are not quite The Bahamas and not quite The Caribbean. They have their own identity. Before 1984, Turks and Caicos Islands were part of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Nassau in the Bahamas. In 1984, it became a mission sui iuris (independent mission), under the bishop of Nassau, but there was only one priest who visited the parish for six months of the year. Mgr Peter Baldacchino has been Chancellor of the Turks and Caicos mission for over 7 years now. His mission is: “To serve Catholics on the islands through the announcement of the Gospel, by providing the sacraments and all that is necessary for their spiritual growth, and to serve the visiting tourist, for whom a time of rest can also be an opportunity to meet with God.” The congregation attending Mass at the resort averages about 80 a week. Mass on the islands is celebrated in English (the official language), Creole and Spanish. Three other priests from Newark (Canadian, Philippine and Malaysian) are assigned to the mission. Seminarians from various parts of the U.S. - one from distant Guam in the Pacific - spend part of their pastoral formation at the mission, assisting with catechism, evangelisation or anything else that needs to be done. Residents of Turks and Caicos hail from many parts of the world. Some 40 per cent are Haitians; about 15 per cent are from the Dominican Republic. Catholics from these two groups are estimated around 5,000. Government contract workers – mostly teachers, doctors, nurses and police officers – and other immigrant groups come from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Trinidad, the Philippines, among numerous other countries. Many are parishioners at Our Lady of Divine Providence and Holy Cross. A good number are members of Protestant and other churches. There have been no island belongers so far in the parishes, save for a recent baptism of an infant. Instead of waiting for people to come to them, however, the priests reach out to all their neighbours, Catholic and non Catholic, in the spirit of community and friendship, as well as evangelization. This also helps lessen the gap between the Church – a recent presence on the islands – and the local population. “We always try to show a presence at the public civil celebrations. We have been called upon to offer prayers of blessing for the first ever fire truck on Providenciales, as
  • 128. 130 The Americas well as at opening ceremonies of civil institutions and at the recent fund-raising event for the victims of the Tsunami; we participate in local clubs, such as Rotary International,” Fr Baldacchino pointed out. The chancellor recalls celebrating Mass when he first arrived in Providenciales with 11 English-speaking persons; the Creole Mass drew 70. But those numbers have since grown; the church building has had to be extended. The immediate aim is to propagate the Gospel through celebration of Mass and the sacraments, he added. Faith formation communities of the Neo-Catechumenal Way have also been started in both parishes. “In 1999 we started a journey of deepening the faith in the form of a post baptismal catechumenate. …It is our hope that in the near future lay leadership and catechists will come forth from these Neo- catechumenal communities” Fr Peter asserted. For Mgr P. Baldacchino work among youth is very important, regardless of religious affiliation. Many of them have excelled in soccer and have made a good name for the Catholic Church F.C. Some youths who have been attracted to the club are now seeking baptism, and some of these young boys and girls in their teens are already involved in the life of the parishes. This encouragement has spurred plans for a school, making a long term Catholic contribution to the development of the islands through Catholic education possible. This school, Holy Family Academy, opened its doors as recently as August 28th, 2006. The beginning was quite modest but with God’s grace, the school will grow. Plans for other parish and church facilities are in the pipeline despite financial difficulties. Extension to existing structures and building of new ones add to the financial burden. Besides, the priests have to fly to the ‘out islands’, to celebrate Mass every week, figuring out how best to reach out and bring together the different cultures and ethnicities, and parishes that are in constant flux. Mgr Peter feels encouraged seeing the young people becoming Pope Francis has on February 20th 2014 appointed Mgr Baldacino as new auxiliary bishop for Miami. involved in the life of the Church. Families are approaching the sacraments and the announcement of the Gospel. What is so important, youths are being kept off the streets which are becoming more unsafe! “We hope and pray that the seed of faith which is now being planted will lead the people of Turks and Caicos never to doubt of the love of God for them,” Mgr Peter writes.
  • 129. 131 Part Five LATIN AMERICA Chapter 28 ____________ BOLIVIA 28.1 The Carmelites (OCarm) At one moment, Fr Albert Brincat had to return to Malta because of his mother’s sickness, and eventual death. After a rest, he thought he could join his Maltese Carmelite companions in Bolivia and give a helping hand. He served as Vicar General of the diocese of Tajira for ten years. He was also Apostolic Administrator for two years, which experience helped him to know the diocese better. As Vicar General what he liked doing most was to help poor people obtain a baptism certificate. Many Bolivians do not have an identity card. The Morales Government, in spite of some friction with the Church, trusts the institution and accepts a baptism certificate to prove the date of birth. This is quite a job because most of these people lived in the interior and the parishes needed to make special efforts to find some record. Fr Valerjan Mercieca has been in the missions for the last 48 years. He believes that as a result of Vatican II teachings and the church base communities, the Latin American Church was filled with a renewed spirit resulting in the position taken by A plaque commemeorating 50 years of the Maltese Carmelites in Tarija The Parish Church
  • 130. 132 The Americas the various Episcopal Conferences. One regime after another crumbled as an air of democracy took hold of the people. He, as parish priest in La Paz and Tajira, accompanied these communities who were taught to live their daily life in the Word of God and inspired by the Theology of Liberation as taught by Gutierez and other Latin American Theologians. He himself started judging the local political scene from the angle of the poor, and this made him understand things differently. He felt that the poor were evangelizing him! Asked about the characteristics of Bolivia and the Bolivian people as a whole, Fr Valerjan explained that he found a great variety of people, but the west is more indigenous, and they speak different languages among themselves. He uses the word indigenous and not Indios because the word Indio hurts them. Recently they are being called the originals. The Indigenous or Originals have their religion and culture which must be respected. They have three main precepts: do not rob, do not be lazy and do not lie. The result is syncretism, because they will not abandon their culture. They love Mother Earth who gives them food, and what they need to survive. “Mother earth is everything for them and they honour her as if she were God”, he states. The population of Bolivia is 80 per cent indigenous or original. But in spite of the fact that Bolivia and the surrounding countries celebrated 200 years of independence, the indigenous were marginalized by successive governments all this time. The Church is the institution that is more credible than the journalists. The Cardinal in the eighties denounced the neo-liberalism, but now the problem is the socialism of President Morales which is the cause of some friction. As years passed, Fr Valerjan admits that the Church in Bolivia and even the originals might have had their disappointments with some aspects of the government of President Morales. But notwithstanding any disappointments, Fr Valerjan considers the election of President Morales as a breakthrough in the history of Bolivia. He then describes this moment with these beautiful words: “Now that the multi-ethnic and pluri- cultural peoples of Bolivia have elected their very first own Government in five hundred years, and are re-writing their Constitution based on equality and justice, I look forward to renew my commitment to accompany them in their quest for a better future without discrimination and marginalization.” As a young boy he had grown up with the Carmelites at Santa Venera, and was brought up in the M.U.S.E.M. and later the Catholic Action. These were the circumstances that imbued in him the Carmelite and missionary spirit. He was ordained priest in 1961 and a year later went to Bolivia. “I always liked reading and I used to receive the Maryknoll review dedicated to Latin America. This reading awakened in me the missionary vocation. Then my vocation for the missions, strengthened as a result of a conversation I had with Fr Bartholomew Attard at Fgura, where I was chaplain of the Young Christian Workers. Fr Bartholomew explained to me their work in Tarija. Till then I was meant to go to Rome to study theology. We spoke to the Provincial and then to my family and within a month I was off to the Missions.” The Maltese Carmelites were thinking of starting a mission in Rhodesia but the Pope, through the General of the Order, insisted that they should think of Latin America, and in particular Bolivia, because it had a chronic lack of priests. They started by going to Peru but soon they ended up in Bolivia. Notwithstanding the fact that the country is rich in minerals, the Indigenous have always lived marginalized and poor, as the riches were always in the hands of the few. As a true Fr. Albert Brincat O.Carm, on the right
  • 131. 133 Bolivia Catholic, Fr Valerjan decided to take a stand with the poor. The atmosphere became tense and there were spies everywhere, even among church people loyal to the old regime.As a result, once he was stopped by the secret police, after a meeting with the parishioners. During the meeting, he noticed a person whom he did not know and was a stranger to him. He met this same person again with the six secret police that stopped him. They asked him for his identity card, but a sizeable crowd realized that he was in trouble and intervened. Mercifully he succeeded to escape to a library shop run by the Pauline sisters. From the shop he noticed that his jeep, parked nearby, was being guarded too. A nun drove up with her jeep, and stopping in front of the Library, she exchanged the keys of the cars, and he escaped in her car. That night, the Bishop phoned him to tell him that he was informed of everything, and that he had already contacted the local authorities so that nothing would happen to Fr. Valerjan. He also worked for a time in Peru. During his stay he built a house for his colleagues in Arequipa. He became counsellor of the Bishop, member of the Presbyterian Council and of the Pastoral Council of the diocese. He was also appointed coordinator of the church base communities of the capital of Bolivia, La Paz, for six years. He considers these church base communities as a blessing. In La Paz they had as many as 140 such communities. Between 1985 and 1987 he lived in Recife whilst taking a post-graduate course in Pastoral Theology, deepening his knowledge of Liberation Theology. Later on he became responsible for the spiritual formation of the Carmelite novices and students. At one stage he was sent to work in a parish in Colombia where he remained for two years. More recently, in 1994, he was appointed Delegate for the Carmelite mission in Bolivia. In this capacity he had the opportunity to travel to various Latin American countries enriching his knowledge of the problems and challenges of the Church and the countries themselves. In his early seventies, he was responsible for the pastoral and social work in the parish dedicated to St Roque in the big city of Tarija. . “After evaluating the process of our community, now constituted as a Commissariat, we opted to look for new horizons by establishing a new vocation centre in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, at the moment the most populated and industrialized state in Bolivia. We hope to consolidate our growth in local vocations thanks to the prayers and generosity of our fellow Maltese people.” Fr Valerjan states. Testimony of Fr Milton Murillo Ortiz O.Carm “The Maltese Carmelites first arrived in Camana, which lies in Peru, around 1949. In Arequipa, a Maltese Carmelite, Mgr Redent Gauci was consecrated Bishop and he remained in Peru. Another Carmelite group came to Bolivia. They founded two Houses, one in 1956 in La Paz, the parish of Our Lady of Fatima, and another in Tarifa, the parish of St Roque. This sanctuary of Fatima is spacious but when the population grew, it became small. During all these years the Carmelite mission here was always backed both by the Province of Malta and the Archbishop of Malta. We in Bolivia are a commissariat of Malta. The Provincial of Malta is also our Provincial. At the moment there are two students besides some elderly Friars. These elderly friars founded three convents in La Paz of which two were later passed on to the Archdiocese. The principal House is at Vila Fatima. Then we have a generation that came in the nineties, Alberto, Garvin and George. I am the first fruit of the recent generation. I had another companion but he died. In Tarifa there were more Friars and these left behind them big projects. The last Chapter of the Province of Malta occurred here in La Paz and the General came from Rome. We are hopeful for the future.”
  • 132. 134 The Americas Chapter 29 ____________ BRAZIL 29.1 Missionary Project for the Malta Seminary It was 1956 when Mgr Victor Grech, then Seminary Rector, had the Missionary Project for the Malta Seminary very much at heart. Quoting Isaiah 59.1, “Behold, the hand of the Lord is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy that it cannot hear,” he firmly believed this saying brought to the fore God´s love for man, his concern with each and every individual. Between 1956 and 1977 many young men felt the call to the priesthood and answered it positively. It was a time when the Church was reaping a rich harvest of vocations. The families were more numerous and more stable and this, undoubtedly, helped in no uncertain way. “The fresh atmosphere that Vatican II brought within the Church encouraged me to invite Archbishop Michael Gonzi to workonaProjectwhichlookedbeyondourshores,”hesaid.The first steps were tentative and difficult, because the Archbishop feared the risks involved in sending young seminarians to finish their studies in Brazil,Australia,America or Europe. On the other hand, when in the late fifties this Project of looking to the needs of the Church beyond our shores was approved, not only did the number of vocations increase, but youths who were still in the first years of their formation begged to be sent to places where the needs of the Church were greatest. The Rector, responding in a generous and concrete manner to the numerous appeals of a never-ending number of bishops, was encouraged by the positive reaction of the seminarians to these appeals. One must remember that it was not in the tradition of the local Church to send diocesan priests, let alone seminarians, to the missions. The missions were considered more proper to the Religious Orders. Mgr Grech said: “Sometimes I felt that there was a sort of a holy competition among the visiting bishops, when it came to discuss their pastoral needs.” He was invited to visit Brazil, Australia, the United States of America, Africa and even nearby Maastricht in Holland. It was in Maastricht that a certain Mgr Delleport had just instituted a European Seminary. His idea was that as Europe was making solid steps towards some sort of Union, the European Church should also start thinking on a project how to pool its resources to satisfy the needs of priests in Europe. Mgr Grech recalls with satisfaction this Missionary Project which the Malta Seminary had embarked upon. He thanked God for the fact that a number of Maltese priests had given and were still giving witness to the love of God in places so far from our shores. “Let us thank God for the contribution of Bishop Vincent Costa in Brazil and of the late Bishop Joe Grech in Australia, together with a considerable number of priests who have dedicated and are still dedicating all their life to the Church in these distant foreign countries!” He regrets the fact that in these last decades, no one has been found to sustain this project. A project of this magnitude has the blessing of the Almighty and is therefore bound to pass through challenging times. It must have its baptism of fire. “There was a time when this Missionary Project was almost halted, but my faith has never faltered. The special help of God will defend this dream of mine and of his Church that the world should be considered one’s parish!” concluded Mgr Grech.
  • 133. 135 Brazil TheNorthoftheStateofParanawassowideandvariedthatthe Archdiocese of Jacarezinho was divided into three dioceses: Jacarezinhoitself,theDioceseofLondrinaandthatofMaringa. At a later date the diocese of Apucarana was also created. The first two seminarians, John Busuttil of Paola and John Xuereb of Naxxar (who died very early in his priesthood, victim of cancer) were received by the first Bishop of Londrina, Mgr Geraldo Fernandez. To our Archbishop Mgr Michael Gonzi, he guaranteed that they would continue their studies, together with the possibility of a visit to their families at regular intervals. Both finished their Theology in the Seminary of Curitiba, the Capital of Parana. In 1962 they were ordained priests by Mgr Gerald Fernandez himself. In 1959 Fr Carmel Mifsud of Żejtun was the first priest to go to Londrina. In 1961 three Maltese seminarians, Bernard Gafa of Msida, the late Carmel Mercieca of St George, Qormi and the late Francis Debattista of Tarxien followed in their footsteps. Mgr Joseph Pace, Bishop of Gozo, asked the Archbishop of Malta to include two of his seminarians, and the petition was gladly accepted. In the meantime, the recently ordained priests, the late Fr Peter Fenech from Dingli and Fr Frankie TaboneAdami from Gzira, offered to go to Brazil soon after their ordination in 1962. They were posted to work in the parish of Rolandia, which included the sizeable community of Vila Oliveira. In 1963, Fr. John Xuereb of Naxxar, pioneer, who died very young, victim of cancer Mgr Geraldo Fernandez, Archbishop of Londrina the late Fr George Zammit of Birżebbuġa, who taught Greek and Latin at the Minor Seminary, offered to join the mission. His presence proved to be of fundamental importance because of his experience and maturity. He instilled an ever greater sense of unity and optimism within the group. It must have been a great relief to Mgr Victor Grech, the young Seminary Rector, when this zealous priest joined the young priests and seminarians in Brazil. In 1964 two other seminarians, Thomas Bonnici of Żebbuġ, who was already in his second year of Theology, and Paul Pirotta of Naxxar, who had just ended his philosophy, joined the others. In 1965 after finishing their philosophy in Malta, Paul Brincat of Birkirkara and the late Carmelo Bezzina of Żebbuġ were the next to join their companions in Londrina. In 1966 Dominic Camilleri from Floriana, a Capuchin friar who had finished his Theology in Malta, left for the newly created diocese of Apucarana, where he was ordained as a diocesan priest in December of the same year. Also in 1966 the late Peter Camilleri of Floriana chose to study theology in Londrina and was ordained in that diocese in 1970. In 1969 Vincent Costa and Edwin Parascandolo, both of Birkirkara, Philip Said of Żebbuġ, Joe Vella of Attard, Joe Cassar of Paola and Lawrence Gauci of Mġarr followed. A few years later, in the late 1970’s, Fr Peter Camilleri, attracted by the priest worker movement, moved to the North East in Recife where he was received by Bishop Helder Camara. In 1970 Tony Camilleri of Floriana, Fr Peter’s brother, and the late Anthony Sammut of Gzira flew to the diocese of Apucarana, interrupting their studies for a year, with the aim of making a Chapter 29.2 ____________ CREATIONOFTHREEDIOCESES IN THE STATE OF PARANA
  • 134. 136 The Americas pastoral experience in Brazil. When the diocese of Londrina was split into two dioceses, one of which was Apucarana, Fr Frank Tabone Adami and the late Fr Carmelo Mercieca were transferred to this newly created diocese. Michael Pace, originally meant to work in Sao Paulo joined the new diocese of Apucarana. Fr John Caruana from Mosta decided to join Fr Vincent Costa and Fr Lawrence Gauci in the diocese of Maringa. He arrived in Maringa in September 1984 after seventeen years of pastoral work in Malta, where he had served as vocation director, vice- parish priest at St Julians, and administrator at the Seminary in Tal-Virtù. Up to 1822, the Church in Brazil had been denied the right to open any seminary. In fact there were only three other seminaries in Brazil apart from the one in Curitiba (the diocese of Curitiba was created in 1896): one in Sao Paulo, another in Salvador Bahia and a third in Recife, in the State of Pernambuco. The fact that the Maltese and Gozitan seminarians did their studies in the Capital of Parana, Curitiba, gave them advantage of knowing better the Church in Parana, with its pastoral plan and priorities. They also had the advantage of understanding better the political, cultural, social and economic milieu of Brazil – and this at a time when Brazil was under a harsh dictatorship. On the other hand, they had the disadvantage of living very far from the Maltese priests working in the parishes four hundred kilometres away. In those days it took the seminarians about 24 hours to travel by bus from the north of Parana, where the dioceses of Londrina, Apucarana and Maringa, lay to the Seminary in the Capital Curitiba in the South. The roads were far from smooth, being literally red soil which became all messy in the rain, so that the bus had to wait till the soil dried up for it to resume the journey. This at times meant that one had to wait for days. Travelling in these circumstances once or twice in your lifetime could be an adventure, but having to travel back and forth on these roads in Christmas, in Easter and in any eventuality was very tiring and disheartening. Besides, these difficult circumstances made personal contact among the seminarians, still very young and already far from their families and the other Maltese priests, very trying and discouraging. By 1967 the number of priests in the North of Parana, that is, in the three dioceses of Londrina, Apucarana and Maringa, including the Pallotine Frs, the Italians, the Germans, the Maltese and a handful of Brazilian priests, was one hundred, of whom 21 were Maltese. This left a positive and indelible mark on the three dioceses. The decision of Mgr Victor Grech to respond to the Bishops’ appeal way back in 1956 was bearing fruit. Such success justifies the sacrifice and the risk so many generous priests and seminarians had taken. The presence of the Maltese diocesan clergy in the State of Sao Paulo started with the late Fr Peter Fenech who in 1970 moved from the diocese of Londrina in the State of Parana to the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo. Cardinal Arns entrusted him with the parish of Sao Roque. The seminarians Michael Pace of San Gejtanu, Ħamrun, and the late Mario Briffa of Paola joined him in theArchdiocese of Sao Paulo where they studied Theology. Mario Briffa returned to Malta after his second year of Theology and Michael Pace later moved to the diocese of Apucarana. Mario Briffa eventually became headmaster at the St Aloysius College, Birkirkara where he was doing sterling work with the students but unfortunately he died early in life. In 1970 the seminarians Xavier Cutajar, Daniel Balzan and John Mallia continued their studies in Sao Paulo and when ordained in 1974, were posted to what is today the diocese of Osasco. The seminarian Tony Sammut, after spending a year in Apucarana, moved to the diocese of Sao Paulo to study Chapter 29.3 ____________ THESEMINARIESINBRAZIL
  • 135. 137 Theology. He was ordained priest in 1976, but unfortunately lost his life ws livrehen run over by a car during a procession in April 1977. Paul Mercieca, after being ordained priest in Malta, joined his colleagues in the interior of Sao Paulo. The seminarian Andrew Zammit left for Sao Paulo in 1983, and after finishing Theology was ordained priest for the diocese of Osasco by the new bishop Mgr Francisco in 1985. Meanwhile Fr Lawrence Gauci, after serving for nineteen years in the State of Parana in the diocese of Maringa, moved to Santo Andre in Sao Paulo. Before going into the work accomplished, it is apt to describe the political, social and economic development of the North of Parana where lay the three dioceses of Londrina, Apucarana and Maringa where the Maltese missionaries were working. When the Portuguese invaded Brazil, as many as five million Indios lived in Brazil. The immigrants who inhabited this region were humble and courageous, united in their love for their families and the desire to provide a decent standard of living for their children, in the shortest possible time. But contrary to the official Portuguese version, no vazio demografico (demographic void) existed when these bona fide citizens came to the North of Parana. Mgr Orivaldo Robles, a colleague of mine, wrote a book on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Archdiocese of Maringa entitled A Igreja que Brotou da Mata (The Church that Cropped up from the Forest). He cites a revealing incident to prove that there was no demographic void. A group of colonizers passing through the forest heard the sound of persons beating their pieces of wood on the trees. These were the Indios, who they could hear but not see. In fact, political power in the North of Parana was absent for a considerable period of time, contrary to what happened in the State of Sao Paulo. The politicians appeared on the scene only when it was realized that the area being developed guaranteed a financial success. The colonization of the North of Parana for our purpose comprises all the area covering East to West, that is, the cities of Cornelio Procopio, Londrina, Apucarana, MaringaandbeyondreachingUmuarama.Colonizationspread fast. The Federal Government generously handed out land to already existing rich landowners and people with money ready to invest. Till the 17th century, the whole region belonged to the Public Authority under the domain of the Portuguese Crown. The passage of this property to private hands occurred under a system that became known as seismarias leading to the exploitation of the natural resources. Around 1808, the system seismarias was extended to foreigners with the intention of increasing the population and the production, which at the time was very scarce. This treatment given to the Portuguese and other foreign landowners, contrasted sharply with the treatment given to the African slaves when they gained emancipation. These were sent away penniless. They were not even given a small plot to gain their living. Brazil Chapter 29.4 ____________ NORTH OF PARANA - THE SOCIAL MILIEU
  • 136. 138 The Americas The practice of exploiting Indios was at some time abandoned because it was discovered that the Indios had a different culture, a totally different concept of family life. The women took care of the children whilst the husbands went hunting and fishing to sustain their families. The importation of the slaves from Africa to substitute the Indios was being abandoned mainly because it was in the interest of the Western Nations to stop the slave trade and open markets in these promising lands for their own people as migrants. The chapter dealing with the practice of slavery from Africa deserves an in-depth study. It combines an unimaginable story of atrocities, cruelty, inhuman and unpardonable behaviour by the Portuguese on one side, and traces of unbelievable resistance on the part of the Africans. This resistance culminated in the creation of the Quilombos which consisted of far-off villages inhabited by slaves who succeeded to escape from their ruthless masters. According to the Constitution of 1988, the successors of the inhabitants of these Quilombos are having their small or extensive piece of land recognized by the State. Mgr Orivaldo Robles further explains that it took some time for the economic development of Parana to spread to the North of Parana. For a long period of time the economic activity was restricted to Paranagua, Curitiba and Campos Gerais in the South of the State. Notwithstanding that the red soil was already well known, interminable stretches of land in the North of Parana remained untouched. The first incursions occurred in what had become known as the North Velho – The Old North – which consisted of the land of the North East of Parana stretching from Sao Paulo up to Cornelio Procopio. This was colonized between 1860 and 1925. The second area was colonized between 1925 and 1950 and became known as Norte Novo or the New North stretching from Cornelio Procopcio to Londrina and to Apucarana reaching out to Rio Ivai. The third and last colonization known as the Norte Novissimo took place between 1950 and 1960 stretching between the Rivers Ivai and Piquiri where Maringa stands. It was at this point in time, during the third colonization, that first the Maltese nuns, and then the seminarians followed by the priests went to Londrina, Maringa and Apucarana and later on to Sao Paulo. Official Christendom and Missionary Zeal The invasion of the Americas in 1492 and of Brazil in 1500 caused an upheaval in the life of the original population who were considered as a stumbling block for the Spanish and Portuguese invaders. The difference between the indigenous cultures of the inhabitants and the way of life, mentality, and the concept of property of the European invaders was sharp and contrasting, with the latter considering the original inhabitants, the Indios, as lazy, rough and dangerous. In the late 15th century Spain and Portugal, leading in maritime navigation and great discoveries, were interested not only in enrichingtheKingdombutalsoinspreadingtheCatholicFaith. In fact, together with great papal privileges, they received the mission to defend and spread the faith. Spread the faith and the Kingdom was the motto of the King of Portugal. The result of all this was the subjugation of the Indios to the Portuguese and Spanish Crowns. Thousands were submitted to slavery and those who resisted faced outright death. Great thinkers like Bartolomeu de Las Casas OP (1474-1566), who because of the defence of the Indios became known as the Apostle of the Indios, wrote: “The Indios are our brethren for whom Christ too had given his life. Why did we persecute them with inhuman cruelty? The past is past,” he continued, “but let us now send to the Indios authentic preachers, whose way of life reflects Jesus Christ and whose souls reflect that of Peter and Paul.” He firmly believed that if this were done, these simple people would embrace the Gospel. The Indios are a sincere, modest and humble people, to such a degree, that there exists no other nation more disposed to receive the Gospel. Fr Bartholomew had great admiration for their piety, faith and charity. They readily followed Christ and accepted the sacraments.
  • 137. 139 Brazil The Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians and Carmelites, before being sent to the New World to evangelize, were given a special formation in human values and Christian virtues. This was essential because in the same epoch the Protestant Reformation was sending its own missionaries too. The main source of information on what was really happening in the forests came from the Jesuits who sought to leave their experience in writing, including details of the great atrocities committed by the colonists. The Dominicans too left important writings greatly appreciated by the Jesuits as they too strongly defended the Indios from being enslaved. The Jesuits even felt the need to study the original languages to be in a better position to transmit the Christian faith and understand these people better. The Jesuits and the Portuguese Conquerors Mgr Orivaldo argues that, unfortunately, respectable authors lacking the proper understanding of the historical and cultural context of the time, still look upon the work of the disciples of St Ignatius of Loyola with reservations. True enough, the mission of the Church was the evangelizing of the Indios. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Jesuits exercised a vigilant protection over the Indios, but they also went one step further. They grouped and organized them into villages that became known as reduciones. If it is true that these reduciones later on fell as an easy prey into the hands of the Bandeirantes - as these conquerors of the interior became known – who came all the way from Sao Paulo looking for slaves. It is equally true that jointly with the Indios militia the Jesuits were in fore-front to repel the hunters of the new slaves. This stand cost the Jesuits a high price. From then on they were hated in Europe and this hostility was crystallized in the decree of the suppression of the Jesuits dated 27th March, 1767. To better understand the historical confrontation between the reduciones of the Jesuits and the advance of the Bandeirantes to catch more slaves amongst the Indios, no better reference can be made to than the film The Mission.At the end of the 18th Century, a certain Rodrigo Mendoza, merchant of slaves, who made of violence his way of life, killed his brother who had set his eyes on the woman he loved. His conscience never let him find peace, until he finally joined the Jesuits in the Brazilian forests at Iguaçu. Now converted, he dedicated himself completely to defend the Indios. The film portrays the arrival of the bandeirantes in the villages of the Jesuits. The nobles in Europe were contrary to the teaching and influence of the Jesuits. The Portuguese in particular judged it advantageous to free this area from their influence, anxious as they were to enslave the Indios whom the Jesuits were protecting. Today, Mgr Orivaldo Robles concludes, it is acknowledged that the reduciones of the Jesuits, which date back to the first decade of the 17th Century, were the right and ideal alternative to the then existing methods of evangelization. This is briefly the history of the land where today the three dioceses of Londrina, Apucarana and Maringa lie, together with that of Sao Paulo where the Maltese missionaries went to spread the Gospel and help the church organize itself. There exist areas reserved for the Indios in Tamarana which form part of the diocese of Londrina and where the late Fr Francis Debattista spent the short years of his priesthood. Fr Michael Pace and the late Fr Dominic Camilleri of the diocese of Apucarana, worked too for several years in the parish of Sao Ignacio where there are archaeological remains of this period. The bandeirantes, who for a time were considered as heroes, but who in truth committed all sorts of atrocities, departed from Sao Paulo. This area forms part of the parish of Sao Roque in which the late Fr Peter Fenech and Fr Paul Mercieca served, and Fr Daniel Balzan is still serving. The arrival of the first missionaries in the Archdiocese of Londrina goes back to 1920, forty years before the arrival of Chapter 29.5 ____________ THEARCHDIOCESEOFLONDRINA
  • 138. 140 The Americas the first Maltese missionaries, when the first migrants, mostly from Sao Paulo started to arrive in the North of Parana. At that time, this region formed part of the Archdiocese of Jacarenzinho, created in 1926 when Curitiba became an Archdiocese. The fertile land in this area attracted would-be owners and farmers from all over Brazil. The migration had meanwhile increased and became even more intense. In 1954 they planned to build a new church which would one day be the Cathedral of the future diocese. German architects were invited to draw the plans and these opted for the new romantic style, common in Europe at that time. In fact on the 1st of February 1956, just two years later, Pope Pius XII created the two dioceses of Londrina and Maringa with the Pontifical Bull Latissimas Partire Ecclesias. The Diocese of Londrina, formally created on the 17th February 1957, had as its first Bishop, Mgr Geraldo Fernandez. One of his first decisions was to stop the building of the Cathedral because of the economic depression that was hitting the North of Parana, caused by successive and severe frosts badly affecting the cultivationof coffee.The Bishop opted for a much simpler project, economically more feasible. Besides it would also be more in line with the new tendency in architecture and more consistent with the essence of the Catholic Faith. The final building reminds one of a great tent where God welcomes his people. This is the Cathedral as known today. It was at this time that Bishop Fernandez visited Malta asking for priests and possibly even seminarians to work in these new pastures. The new diocese, and later the dioceses of Maringa and Apucarana, had to start everything from scratch. Decades had to pass before one could see a really thriving diocese. Anything and everything done was inspired by faith and trust in God. Organization and order may have been lacking but faith in God was deep and strong. Pope John Paul II, during his first visit to Brazil in 1980, when referring to the arrival of the missionaries, said: “They didn’t come as conquerors in search of land or in search of good deals and money. No! They came as missionaries to announce Jesus Christ and spread his Gospel. They came with the only objective to lead men to Christ, transmitting to them the life of Sons of God, destined for eternal life. They came without asking anything for themselves. On the contrary, they were ready to give their life to the rest” Londrina has seen since its foundation four Archbishops: Bishop Geraldo Fernandez, Bishop Geraldo Majella Agnello, BishopAlbano Bortoletto Cavallin and the presentArchbishop Orlando Brandes. It had four auxiliary Bishops, amongst whom the Maltese Bishop Vincent Costa, Auxiliary Bishop to Bishop Albano Bortoletto Cavallin. Dom Albano must have had great admiration for his auxiliary. During the opening of a Regional Meeting of the Comunidades Eclesiais de Base (Base Church Communities) in Londrina, while Bishop Costa was leading the opening prayer, Bishop Albano whispered to a group around him: “What is the recipe Malta has, to produce such a good priest and such a good Bishop?” Mgr Joseph Agius remembers with nostalgia how at the time of going to Brazil, his father had already emigrated to Australia. To his disappointment, Joseph preferred not to follow. For him Australia was not a mission land as he understood it then, but a prosperous land where one emigrated to make a future. Joseph as a seminarian had other plans. The late Fr Francis Debattista.Unfortunately he died very early in his mission
  • 139. 141 Brazil The Parish Church of Rolandia Together with his companion Joseph Xuereb, they approached Bishop Pace asking him to find a mission land for them. They were referred to Mgr Victor Grech, the Malta Seminary Rector. There was one stumbling block however: they were in their second year of philosophy whilst their Maltese companions Bernard Gafa, Carmelo Mercieca and the late Francis Debattista had already concluded their third year and were destined to leave that same year. Fr Nicholas Cauchi came to their rescue. He was their philosophy professor and generously accepted to give them a crash course in the hot summer months to catch up with their colleagues. Fr Cauchi, who was later to become Bishop of Gozo, understood their vocation as he too wished to work in the missions. Fr Joseph Agius admitted that the separation from his family and his little Gozo was not easy. He sometimes broke down in tears when he found himself alone in his room at the Seminary. He gradually settled down to the new environment with the help of his companions. He was ordained in Londrina on the 4th July 1965, and was soon appointed parish priest in the thriving city of Rolandia. The parish under his care had twelve thousand people. He started his apostolate and he soon learned that it was not a question of simply passing on your knowledge or your way of thinking. It was imperative to listen a lot, to observe a lot and more important still, to respect their religiosity and devotions. It was a pleasure for him to listen to their prayers in their own language (Italian, German and Ukrainian) prayers and litanies of Our Lady that they had learnt with their grandfathers and grandmothers. Mgr Agius emphasizes that it is only by respecting their basic beliefs, steeped in their culture that one will gradually succeed in gaining their confidence. “After all it is our mission to give testimony to Jesus and his Gospel and instil love for the Church which he instituted,” he said. In the years that followed, apart from giving all importance to the liturgyandorganizingcatechismlessonsaccordingtothenormsof the Church in Brazil, MgrAgius built chapels in an ever-growing parish, and a fully-equipped Parish Centre. He organized trade courses for men and women, and also found time to encourage some youths to try their luck in Maltese and Gozitan football. Mgr Joseph Agius had many important celebrations and festivities during all these years. But there are some memorable visits which he received which entered into the annals of the parish: the visit of Prime Minister Fenech Adami who met the Maltese priests in Parana and Sao Paulo on the occasion of Eco-92 held in Rio de Janeiro, and of Bishop Cauchi, Mgr Annetto Depasquale, Archbishop Mercieca and Bishop Mario Grech. Mgr Agius has a Bishop Mario Grech visiting the parish of Mgr. Joseph Agius
  • 140. 142 The Americas knack for celebrations, and it was not different on these occasions when he received these noble visitors with the Military Brass Band of his district and with the parish choir singing the Maltese Hymn in Maltese. Mgr Bernard Gafa hails from Msida and was one of the first seminarianswhowenttoBraziltoserveinthedioceseofLondrina. He started his work in the parish of the Immaculate Conception situated at the heart of an ever-growing city and diocese. As an assistant priest he had Fr Peter Camilleri, to whom we already referred, (omit) emphasizing the fact that his real wish was to undergo the experience of a worker priest. Mgr Gafa says that he was tempted to publish the homilies which Fr Peter, still young, delivered, inspired as he was by the evangelical option for the poor.AlltheMaltese,priestsandreligious,admitthatPeterfeltand believed deeply in this option which the Church in LatinAmerica declared. It is not by accident that when he moved to Recife he served in a favela, and when later on he left the priesthood and married, he persisted in living in the same favela for a decade or so, helping the favelados improve their condition. Today, Mgr Bernard is responsible for the Cathedral which, lying in the heart of the city, is much frequented. He celebrates two or three Masses a day, hears confessions and gives counsel on a daily basis to his numerous parishioners, apart from odd jobs. He used to lecture Moral Theology and other disciplines at Pope Paul VI Seminary, and as circumstances developed, at intervals, he used to be administrator of the Seminary, of the Cathedral and of the Diocese. One can safely say that he has turned out to be an exceptional administrator. He was sensible to the needs of the poorer parishes of the periphery, which, especially in their initial years, lacked the necessary resources. This salient point has to be emphasized because even if it is a virtue that should be common with all administrators inspired by the Gospel, it is not so common among some other administrators. This sensitivity for the needs of the poorer parishes is not to be taken for granted. Apart from this, he helped various bishops who asked of him to serve as Chancellor, as a member of the Tribunal or their Vicar General. All these responsibilities he assumed jointly with the parish work that was always prominent in his life. Fr Paul Brincat of Birkirkara went to Londrina together with the late Fr Carmelo Bezzina of Żebbuġ in 1965. When still a Fr. John Caruana and Fr. Paul brincat Gerardo Majella, former Archbishop of Londrina, visiting the Mal- tese Priests Fr. Paul Brincat
  • 141. 143 Brazil a group of 20 seminarians who over the years had accepted the invitation to go to Brazil. During his forty years in the diocese of Londrina he served for 17 years in Tamarana. A few kilometres away from this far-off village lies a reserved area of the Indios with whom he developed a friendly relationship.TodayTamarana is a small-sized developed city of the interior that witnessed the land reform around it through the tireless efforts of the Landless Peasants Movement backed by the Pastoral Land Commission seminarian, he used to frequent the rural and far-off parish of Tamarana when not studying. On the 1st of March 1969 he was ordained together with Carmelo Bezzina in the Parish Church of Tamarana built by the late Fr Francis Debattista, where they had acquired their first pastoral experience. Fr Paul worked for many years in the parish Nossa Senhora de Lourdes where he made great pastoral reforms, introducing all the ministries inspired by the methodology of the Comunidades Eclesiais de Base (Church Base Communities). Through his initiative the liturgy, catechism teaching, youths groups, family groups, taking care of the sick, formation of the laity, and collection of monthly dízimo (tithes) came to life. He also embarked upon the structural reforms in the church building which was in a very poor state when he took over the Parish. While still a Parish priest, Fr Paul Brincat served also as a Seminary Rector of the Theological Seminary Paul VI for two terms of five years each. Paul VI Seminary was a regional Seminary. This means that it received seminarians from the seven dioceses around. These were Londrina itself, Cornelio Procopio, Apucarana, Maringa, Paranavai, Campo Mourão and Umuarama. As Rector, he was personally responsible to seven bishops who trusted the seminarians in his hands, an onerous responsibility indeed. Each diocese lacked a sufficient number of priests, and could ill-afford to offer him any help. So Fr Paul ended up being not only the Rector but also the administrator and the Prefect of Studies. Being Seminary Rector is no mean job, let alone having no supporting staff. As if this was not enough, Fr Brincat served the diocese, as chancellor, as defensor vinculi in the ecclesiastical tribunal, and also as anApostolicAdministrator. Fr Paul had gone to Brazil with the late Fr Carmelo Bezzina. Unfortunately Fr Bezzina had a sorry end as he was knocked down by a motor cycle when crossing the busy avenue in front of his Parish church. He was on his way to bless the new premises of a bank. Fr Carmelo was ordained together with Fr Paul in Tamarana. In those days, every two years a new group of seminarians was arriving from Malta. Fr Carmelo formed part of of the Church. Fifty years ago, Tamarana was very primitive and the pastoral work back-breaking. Fr Carmelo then spent 13 years in Bela Vista do Paraiso and the last ten years in the parish Maria Auxiliadora. For a time he also served as Vicar General of the diocese. No wonder that the local papers were so effusive on learning of his premature death. Junior Cesar de Almeida, a columnist in the local paper, wrote: “He was a humble and a serious person, simple,aboveall.Hewasasympathetic,honestandconscientious person able to love and a person who searched for his inner peace respecting his conscience.” Felix Ribeiro, a professor affirmed: “Carmelo came from Malta as a seminarian, and as a young priest. He was always present amongst the poor and the humble of the parish of St Roque in Tamarana, where in 1973 I had the honour to live with him for a year. We lost his peaceful companionship, his wise teaching and above all, we miss a loyal servant of the Church.” The permanent deacons issued a statement addressing him directly: “You understood the function of being a deacon in the Church. You backed the permanent diaconate in the Church, you The late Fr Carmelo attending silver jubilee Mass of Fr Lucas Azzopardi
  • 142. 144 The Americas known as the HU of Londrina. I know of two persons who were transferred from my diocese of Maringa to this hospital, and fell under the special care and solicitude of Fr Philip as chaplain. One was Fatima Lopez aged 25. She was the secretary of my parish. The other was Fr Levi, a newly ordained Brazilian priest. Both had fallen victims of cancer at a very young age. In both cases, their families and close friends never forgot the attention Fr Philip gave them. The Bishop of our diocese in Maringa, the priests who were companions of Fr Levi, my parishioners and the families of both, never forgot Fr Philip and still ask me for news about him. They still wish him well despite the passage of time. Fr Philip as chaplain never failed to show care and love to the many patients and their families who looked for his consolation and help. Often, he received the relatives of the sick who came from afar in his house. For this reason he was a much respected priest and had the best relationship with both doctors and staff. He served in this hospital for thirty long years. encouraged us, deacons. You were a marked presence in the poor communityJohnTurquinowhereyouwillalwaysberemembered.” Fr Carmelo was responsible for the building of a huge church in honour of Don Bosco. It had been planned by the Salesians but when these passed the Parish to the Diocese, it remained for him to build and finish the church.An elderly lady,Aparecida Westin, recalled that she had a photograph of Fr Carmelo taken by a local paper, showing him pushing a cart full of construction material. The Mayor Nedson Micheleti and Vice-Mayor Luis Fernando Pinto Dias both ex-seminarians remembered with satisfaction the time when in the summer months they were sent for their pastoral training in Tamarana. They both praised him for his interest in the social development of the district. In his homily, Bishop Albano epitomised in a few words who Fr Carmelo really was: “He was a Maltese with a Brazilian heart. He knew what was happening in the four corners of his big parish, in the Centre as well as in the Communities.Wearesadforthelossofacompanionandafriend. Although as Christians we believe in the words of Jesus that there exists eternal life and that the present life is transitory, yet we shall miss him. He was a creative person who did everything with great love and dedication. His priest companions admitted they had lost a jovial companion. He died on the battlefield.” The late Fr Philip Said who like the late Fr Carmelo hails from Żebbuġ, worked in the Parish of Our Lady of Rocio for a long period. He even had to build a new parish church to substitute the smaller one. In his younger years he was very often invited by the various lay movements in the diocese as well as the Seminary Rector to give retreats. But one can safely say that the pastoral work which remained a special mark of Fr Philip Said was his chaplaincy at the University H o s p i t a l The late Fr. Philip Said Relatives of Fr. Philip Said
  • 143. 145 Brazil and spiritual formation. When ordained priests, they soon became the pioneer priests of our dioceses and after these long years, their pastoral contribution is still abundant. Together with other religious of various congregations, they founded various communities and parishes. Some of them are now buried in our cemeteries, like Fr Francis Debattista, Fr Dominic Camilleri and Fr Carmelo Bezzina. When in 1992, I was appointed Archbishop of Londrina, I met the same seminarians I knew at the Seminary in Curitiba now fully fledged priests, all involved in the most varied pastoral work, in diverse parishes, seminary, curia and hospitals among other responsibilities. Moved by a sense of gratitude, one day I went to the Apostolic Nunciature and proposed a Maltese priest to be our Auxiliary Bishop in the person of Fr Vincent Costa who then was transferred to the Diocese of Umuarama as titular bishop and now to the important Diocese of Jundiai in the State of Sao Paulo. I thank God for these courageous and dedicated missionaries, the pioneers from Malta. The Archdiocese of Londrina would not be the vibrant, apostolic and missionary diocese that is today without the presence of these Maltese Diocesan priests, the Augustinians, the Dominicans, and the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart whom we have had for the last fifty years.” Fr Vincent Costa, who later became bishop, together with Edwin Testimony of Archbishop Dom Albano Bortoletto Cavallin Archbishop Emeritus Albano Bortoletto Cavallin accepted to contribute to this book by bearing witness to the work of the Maltesepriestsandreligiousinhisdiocesewiththesewords:“The mission of the Maltese priests in Londrina started under Bishop Geraldo Fernandez who visited Malta at the time of Vatican II and appealed for vocations at the Seminary of Malta. The appeal fell on fertile soil and a number of seminarians accepted this invitation. When in Brazil, they went to the Seminary in Curitiba, the only Seminary in Parana at that time, to study Theology and start the difficult task of immersing themselves in the Brazilian culture. So started the beautiful presence of the Maltese priests in the diocese of Londrina, Maringa and Apucarana,” the Bishop wrote. “At the time of their studies, I was then serving in the same Seminary as spiritual Director. I thank God for the presence of these young Maltese seminarians because they brought with them from the Seminary of Malta a solid, human, intellectual Chapter 29.6 ____________ THE ARCHDIOCESE OF MARINGA Parascandolo and Lawrence Gauci, had started as seminarians in the Archdiocese of LondrinaandthenmovedontotheDioceseofMaringa.TheyallstudiedintheSeminary of Curitiba at a time when the Church in Brazil was being influenced by Vatican II. However,FrCostaattributesthefactthatheandhiscolleagueshadgrownmoreconscious of the new way of being the Church in line with Vatican II more to the late Fr Francis Debattista in Tamarana and to Fr Thomas Bonnici at Vila Oliveira in Rolandia where they used to spend their holidays, rather than to anything else. According to Fr Costa, Thomas Bonnici had embarked upon a different type of pastoral activity, passing from a
  • 144. 146 The Americas pastoral of conservation, simply preparing the faithful to receive the Sacraments, to that better known method of see, judge and act attributed to Cardinal Cardijn of the Young Christian Workers of Belgium and adopted by the Church in Brazil. Fotos livros This pastoral activity helped the faithful to become more conscious of the reasons behind the problems they were facing in the family, in the community within the Church and at work. The parents, organized in small family groups, discussed how they could administer better their conjugal life and understand better the social problems that oppressed them. They were also taught how to plant the church base communities within the parish. Fr Costa has words of praise for Mgr Antonio Almeida, a young, intelligent and above all a well-prepared Brazilian priest, imbued by the teaching of Medellin and Puebla. It was a wise move when Archbishop Mgr Jaime Coelho appointed him as the first Coordinator of the Diocesan Pastoral Activity. The diocese readily accepted the objectives and priorities of the documents of Medellin and Puebla. Fr Costa emphasizes the fact that the true secret of their pastoral success was that the priests used to meet regularly, even if distances and means of travel made this difficult. Another priest whom he remembers with great affection is Fr Roberto Kuriyama, a Brazilian of Japanese origin. The latter studied Holy Scripture in depth through the Ecumenical Movement known as Centro Biblico Inter-Religioso (CEBI), an Inter-Religious Biblical Centre. Eventually he became a renowned Biblist, deeply involved with the social movements, especially those involved in land reform. Fr Roberto had a great positive influence on the diocese. Incidentally Fr Roberto became a special friend of the Maltese priests and felt very much indebted to them. He came from a Buddhist family and owed his Christian faith to his Japanese colleague Fr Zazaki and in part to Fr John Xuereb and Fr Bernard Gafa of Londrina. When Fr Peter Camilleri married and had a son he called him Roberto.This might appear an unimportant detail but the fact is that Fr Roberto had been influenced by the Maltese missionaries. To them he in part owed his conversion. On his part, he influenced us Maltese Above: Fr Vincent Costa with Bishop Nikol Cauchi; and below with his family and fr ABOVE: Bishop Vincent Costa and his companions, still studying theology; and below in the company of Prof Thomas Bonnici (centre) and Fr.John Caruana, in a light mood
  • 145. 147 Brazil by his social mindedness. Fr Costa as a newly ordained priest was appointed Vicar at the Cathedral. He gave great importance to PastoralWork withYouth, without reservations. To his satisfaction he still meets adults who remember those youthful years with nostalgia. In time, together with Edwin Parascandolo, he moved to Sao Jorge de Ivai in the interior of the diocese, where they practically organized the parish from scratch. The former Parish Priest was involved in school education as a Director, and lacked the time necessary for the arduous spiritual dedication that a Parish demands. Catechism lessons spread from two years known as Pre I and Pre II to a three year course leading to the first Holy Communion.This was followed by two more years in preparation for Confirmation. Great importance was also given to Adult Catechism, preparing those for marriage. This consisted of two weekends of lectures given by experienced and steady couples, a psychologist, a doctor and a lawyer. The family groups then were a new idea in the diocese. These met weekly in their homes, to discuss and reflect on material prepared by the diocese. These groups had and still have two great occasions during the year when they meet: the Novena do Natal – a preparation of nine meetings preceding Christmas and the Campanha da Fraternitade held throughout Lent, during which special topics chosen each year are discussed. They discuss the internal life of the Church – how one can participate better, vocations, the pastoral work with the youth and with the families. They also discuss social problems like land reform, unemployment, lack of adequate health service or the education of the masses. This pastoral activity is all in line with the directives of Medellin and Puebla. Fr Costa remembers with special gratification his years in the new parish Nossa Senhora dos Gracias in Sarandi, a newly created parish, situated in a very poor periphery of the city of Maringa. It hadalltheproblemscausedbycontinuousimmigrationoffamilies from the interior, victims of the lack of land reform. Unemployed, whole families move to the larger cities looking for an alternative job. This sociological reality gave Fr Costa the opportunity to mould the new parish on the more advanced pastoral methods the Church in Brazil was promoting. Sarandi lacked everything: politically, it was not emancipated - it was a loose abandoned district; church-wise, a far-off chapel administered by the Jesuits already overburdened by their large parish St Joseph the Worker. Fortunately,hemetagroupoflaypeoplewhohadalreadyreceived a good preparation from the Jesuits.These received the creation of the new parish and the appointment of the first parish priest with great enthusiasm. Fr Costa moulded the parish in small church communities, then a priority in the diocese. The parish, with a population of 40,000 inhabitants, was subdivided in three great Communities known as the Centre, Panorama and Independence. Each of them was further subdivided into six, seven or eight smaller communities. The greatest advantage of this division and subdivision, according to Fr Costa, was that the faithful now felt that they belonged to a community. Sociologically, the parishioners were no longer individuals lost in a huge city. In these basic church communities (CEBs) special Ministers of the Eucharist were appointed jointly with seven other coordinators. These were responsible for the family groups, youth groups, catechists, liturgy, human promotion, finances, and workers and farmers´ problems. They were organized in a Parish Council. Its members, chosen by a vote, were responsible for seven different pastoral activities. This system applied the one adopted in the Acts of the Apostles, where seven deacons were chosen for such work. Really and truly a new way of being the Church was being planted. The town of Sarandi from an unknown district soon became a point of reference in the diocese and the surrounding cities, because of the dynamism of its new parish Nossa Senhora das Graças. After six years of hard work in Sarandi, including the building of a new Parish Church and a Hall, Fr Vincent was chosen for the difficult and important task of Pastoral Coordinator of the Archdiocese. Most testify that in this position, he was a great success. After four years as Coordinator, he flew to Rome for post-graduate studies specializing in the Gospel of St John,
  • 146. 148 The Americas presenting the thesis: Historia e Fé Na Comunidade Joanina, according to Raymond E Brown. Returning to Brazil he was appointed once again as Coordinator of the Pastoral Activity. From which position, he was eventually consecrated Bishop. He was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Bishop Albano Cavallin in Londrina. As the titular bishop of the diocese of Umuarama he faced difficult times which he managed successfully. Today he is titular bishop in the diocese of Jundiai in the State of Sao Paulo. When Fr Vincent Costa left the Parish, Archbishop Jaime Luis Coelhoappointedme,FrJohnCaruana,tosucceedhim. Iarrived in Brazil on 7th September 1984 and was immediately appointed Parish Priest on the 20th January 1985. I could hardly speak any Portuguese. Although the parish in Sarandi, sociologically speaking, was very similar to the parish I had always dreamt of serving as a missionary, still, I confess, I was afraid to take over the parish. Fr Vincent was a much respected priest and most of the parishioners sincerely believed, understandably, that he was irreplaceable. Secondly, what worried me further was the fact that the type of pastoral work he had planted and initiated in Sarandi was all new to me, coming fresh from Malta. I was determined to put all my strength and efforts into it, but still I was afraid I would fail. Truly, the pastoral work of the Comunidades Eclesiais de Base was new not only for me but also for the Church in Brazil. I found great support from the Archbishop of the diocese, Dom Jaime Luis Coelho, because he was very much in favour of this new way of being a church. During my long and gratifying years in the city of Sarandi – almost 20 years – the parish sprouted into four parishes.As I look back, I cannot but thank God for the support I found, and if I was successful, it is because the Grace of God never failed me. I firmly believe that amongst so many other spiritualties within the Catholic Church, this spirituality of the church base communities, which was thought of, grew and developed within the Church in Brazil and Latin America, strengthened the Church in no small way. I would like to leave here a prayer of thanksgiving through which I meant to pass on to the parishioners the vital points of this spirituality. TestimonyofthelateDomJaimeLuisCoelhoFirstArchbishop of Maringa “I knew the Maltese Priests in our Diocese in Maringa when they were seminarians in the Archdiocese of Londrina way back in 1969: Vincent Costa, Lawrence Gauci and Edwin Parascandolo. Then they joined ourArchdiocese of Maringa and continued their studies in Curitiba in the Emaús Community. I ordained them deacons but they remained incardinated with the Archdiocese of Malta where they were later ordained priests. In our Archdiocese of Maringa the three priests exercised their priesthood with great love and dedication. Fr Vincent Costa was chosen asAuxiliary Bishop of Londrina, and was then transferred as Diocesan Bishop in Umuarama, and lately became Titular Bishop of Jundiai, an important diocese in the State of Sao Paolo. Fr Lawrence Gauci moved to the diocese of Santo André in Sao Paulo and Fr Parascandolo left the ministry still living a very discreet life. Fr John Caruana between 1984 and 2011 also collaborated in our Archdiocese. To all of them I give my thanks for their priestly collaboration, and I give witness of other good work by other Maltese priests in Brazil.” Dom Jaime Luis Coelho 1st Archbishop of Maringa, 9th November 2011 AnAct of Thanksgiving to God the Father, the Son and the
  • 147. 149 Brazil Holy Spirit, for the blessings showered on our parishes through the spirituality of the Church Base Communities. “O Father, we thank You for having sent Your Son Jesus, who gathered us in Your Church which He confided in the Hands of the Holy Spirit, Your Third manifestation amongst us. Pope John XXIII called Vatican II which served as a return to the Holy Scriptures. Pope Paul VI together with the bishops gave us two great documents: one defining the Church as ‘The People of God’ and the other dealing with ‘The Church in the Modern World’. O Father, the bishops of Latin America meeting in Medellin, soon after Vatican II, and then in Puebla, developed this truly prophetic spirituality. We offer You this new way of being the Church, even if it is not the only way, as a truly gift of the Holy Spirit. We offer You the generous work of the catechists who teach our children in the most distant and poor peripheries of our parishes. We offer You the youths who after being evangelised, they themselves become evangelisers through the Pastoral with the Youths. We offer You the work of the extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, who take the Body and Blood of Your Son Jesus Christ to the homes of our sick. We offer You the campanha do quilo, a monthly offering of imperishable food for the families who are marginalised and excluded. We offer You the courses of human promotion, teaching the jobless a profession to help them find a job. We offer You the Liturgy, ever more creative and incarnated in the life of the community, with hymns that reflect the sufferings and hopes of the same. We offer You the pastoral do dízimo (tithes) which our committed laity of the CEBs planted in the parishes, teaching the faithful that the work of evangelisation is the responsibility of each one of us. We thank You because the dioceses who like ours in Maringa accepted as a priority this spirituality and methodology, solved the chronic lack of priests
  • 148. 150 The Americas and engaged laity. Our Church, on accepting this new way of being the Church, became a sign of contradiction because of the evangelical option for the poor. Our communities, who decided to live this option, through the pastoral work with the farmers without land and with the workers without dignity, did not refrain from supporting the struggle of the landless peasants, in a time when these were considered bandits. O Father, this option served as a true catechesis to other Christians. The support of our Archbishop Dom Jaime Luis Coelho, representative of Your Son Jesus in our diocese, was exemplary to one and all in this regard. This option was reinforced by a continuous process of conscience awareness during the Christmas Novena and the Campaign of Solidarity in Lent. The celebration of St Joseph the Worker, the various Pilgrimages in honour of Mother Land organized annually, are important moments in the life of our communities. Without doubt, the Church in Latin America, in Brazil, in our Diocese and in our parishes has its limitations. For this we ask for Your forgiveness. O Father, at last, we ask the blessing ofYour and Our Mother Mary, whom Latin America glorifies under the titles of Mary of Guadalupe and Mary Aparecida, which epitomise Our Lady of the Magnificat! We pray that She remains with us, as She remained with the Apostles in the first Pentecost. Amen. Christ the Liberator, St Therese and the These symbols form part of the vitrais that embellish the Church dedicated to St. Therese of Lisieux , in Jardim Panorama, Sarandi - PR
  • 149. 151 Brazil Poor. The sculpture is inspired by the Evangelical and Preferential Choice for the Poor which the Church in Latin America declared as its major policy, during the Latin American Episcopal Meeting (CELAM) held in Puebla, Mexico in 1979. On the right hand side one sees the map of Latin America showing the three cities of Medellin, Puebla and Santo Domingo representing the seat of three important Latin American Bishops´ Conferences which gave rise to the liberation theology in Latin America, which Pope John Paul II in a letter to the Episcopal Conference of the Bishops of Brazil on 9th April 1986 defined as ‘not only opportune but useful and necessary’. The fallen chains around the Cross show the suffering and the oppression of the people of this continent. It was from this suffering that the Risen Christ saved one and all. To the left of the map is Our Lady of the Magnificat, pregnant. After receiving Christ in her womb, she visited her cousin Elizabeth and pronounced the hymn of the Magnificat where she demonstrates her option for the poor. At her side are two children, a student and a street child, an unemployed couple, and a family of peasants working in the field. The pregnant wife shows the suffering that the poor have to face to gain their living under the scorching sun which is represented by the dry land and the cactus shrubs. Our Lady is showing Christ the Liberator to these people. It was He who with his passion, death and Resurrection saved humanity from the individual and social sin. On the right side of the panel is the map of the Archdiocese of Maringa, the diocese to which the parish of St Therese of the Child Jesus belongs, with rays of light emitted from the Cathedral, showing the support our diocese gave to the peasants struggling in favour of the land reform in and around our diocese. On the left hand side are the same workers and peasants marching confidently towards Christ the Liberator. At the top on the left, is St Therese of Lisieux, patron of the Missions, approving the theological development and pastoral methods of the Church in Brazil and Latin America.
  • 150. 152 The Americas Within the context of the Liturgical Year, the Lent and Easter Seasons are a period of Grace and the liturgy of each Sunday confronts us with basic religious principles for our conversion and change of mind. Every year, as from 1964, the Brazilian Church proposes to the people a theme that challenges our complacency in social, and thus, religious attitudes and practice. During Lent, themes, such as Hunger, Violence, Housing, Indigenous peoples, Health, Prisons, Land Distribution, Lost Childhood, Neighbours, are debated in Base Ecclesial Communities and in Catholic communities at large, foregrounded on the principles provided by the Latin-American Conferences of Medellín, Puebla and Aparecida. In 2009, the Parish of St. Silvester in the archdiocese of Maringá PR Brazil reminded Catholics of the 45-year-old Campanha da Fraternidade [Campaign for Brotherhood] by publishing a year calendar with all the posters involving the themes proposed for the kairós and conversion season.
  • 151. 153 Brazil This magnificent concrete sculpture, which reflects the typical architecture of Latin America, is the work of the late Eder Portalha, an artist of Mandaguari, State of Parana, Brazil. This masterpiece is the work of his left hand since his right hand was stricken with polio when he was a child. The panel is about 60 square meters. Fr Lawrence Gauci went to Brazil with Fr Vincent Costa on the 13th January 1969, studied Theology in Curitiba and was later appointed Parish Priest in Cruzeiro do Sul, a parish in the interior of the diocese of Maringa. The population consisted mainly of small farmers who, because of an unjust banking system, were obliged to sell their farm to the big landowners or lose it outright to the banks. Of each hundred sacks of coffee, soya beans or corn collected, the farmers owed eighty sacks to the bank to pay for the seed, toxics, interest on loans and to make up for the savage inflation. As a result, they were obliged to leave the rural area and settle on the peripheries of the big cities. Faced by the exploitation of small farmers, the Church in the State of Parana introduced the pastoral rural (apostolate with the farmers). The Group was composed of farmers, trade union members, a lawyer to help them in their legal and financial The Artist Eder Portalha difficulties and a priest to help the farmers in their spiritual needs. Fr Gauci was asked by the Archbishop to coordinate this Group, which he ably did for ten years. Fr Lawrence wrote a book entitled A Situação do Homem do Campo (The situation of the farmer). It discussed the grave and serious problems farmers were facing because of the lack of land reform. The book referred to the teaching of the Word of God, with hymns proper for the liturgy, all reflecting the anxieties and hopes of the farmers, and the social teaching of the Church on land reform. This simple and humble book, published by the Paulinas, an important Catholic Editing House, attracted the attention of the great land owners who condemned the book as instigating the farmers to revolt, rather than teaching them the Gospel. They even lodged a protest with the Bishop, but this had no effect. Fr Lawrence was later transferred to a much larger parish of some thirty thousand inhabitants in the urban area of Maringa, whereheestablishedChurchBaseCommunities.Itwasatough job to decentralize and subdivide the parish in twenty smaller communities, find coordinators for the various pastoral needs, and organize them in a Parish Council.” Once launched, the pastoral advantages were enormous,” Fr Lawrence affirms. Unfortunately, in 1990 his father fell sick, and he had to return to Malta for a year during which he studied Pastoral Theology at the University of Malta. His thesis was based on the Church Base Communities as he had experienced and lived them in Brazil. Fr Paul Longo, his examiner, considered it a pioneer thesis. When he returned to Brazil in 1991 he moved from Maringa to Sao Paulo to experience the exigencies of pastoral life in a big Metropolis. The Cardinal, Bishop Claudio Humes, the Bishop of the suburban industrial region known ABCD, sent him to a very big parish in Santo Andre’ which had no resident priest for the last three years. There he was asked to encourage Ecumenism among the many Christian churches established in the area. He performed this work together
  • 152. 154 The Americas with Pastors coming from the Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran and other Christian denominations. They had regular prayer meetings followed by study of the Bible. It was a very positive experience and created a new ecumenical spirit and mentality in the diocese. In 1977 the bishop sent a priest to help him, and Fr Lawrence took the opportunity to study Pastoral Theology at the Faculty of Nossa Senhora de Assunçao in Sao Paulo. His thesis for the doctorate dealt with the Urban Phenomenon and Evangelisation. Between 1999 and 2009 he was appointed parish priest in Santa Edwige. His principal initiative was introducing the Caritas Paroquial (Caritas in the Parish) consisting of various training courses for the unemployed. These included computer courses, crafts, sewing, carpentry and the like. To accommodate the students, a two storey Centre was built. The participation of the faithful – even of persons who practised other religions – was encouraging. Another interesting project was the collecting of oil from nearby firms to be sold for the production of ethanol. The money that was gathered, around Fr Lawrence Gauci, on the right, with a Community leader “ParanaPriests visiting Fr Lawrence and the late Fr. Peter in São Paulo” 30,000 Reais (about 14,000 Euro) was forwarded to an institution in the Amazon to help equip a ship with medical apparatus to help the sick along the Amazon River. Fr Lawrence published a series of three books called A Biblia Nas Mãos do Povo – The Bible in the hands of the People. It comprises comments and reflections on books from the Old Testament, the Gospels, The Acts of the Apostles and the Apocalypse. This publication was a success – it reached
  • 153. 155 Brazil Fr Zenildo Megiatto and Fr Roberto Kuriyama Fr Zenildo Megiatto, a Brazilian priest of the Archdiocese of Maringa, gave this testimony on the pastoral activity of Bishop Vincent Costa, Fr Lawrence Gauci and Fr John Caruana. “Wherever they served, whether on a parochial or diocesan level, or with lay social groups, each of them, in his own way transmitted to the communities, self-respect, joy, optimism and hope. Their behaviour positively influenced the communities, helping to form several leaders and committed lay people. Fr Gauci helped the farmers through the Land Pastoral Commission of the Church; Fr Caruana always backed the urban workers through their various social movements, and the Landless Peasants Movement which struggled more than any other movement for the Land reform in Parana and in Brazil. He is still respected for the backing they received from him. Bishop Costa’s extraordinary contribution to the planting of the new way of being a Church in the diocese earned him the respect of one and all, and he is today considered a successful bishop. In the end, the People of God in our diocese still remember the passage of these Maltese amongst us, who testified for a Church which is at the service of the poor, with great respect and nostalgia. The Movement who all these years struggled for the Land Reform in the State of Parana and in Brazil, known as Movimento dos Trabalhadores rurais Sem Terra - (MST), honoured a number of militants from Parana on its 25th anniversary. Amongst twenty militants or so, they chose Fr. Zenildo Megiatto, Fr. Roberto Kuriyama and myself – the three of us belonging to the Archdiocese of Maringa a fifth edition and was also published in Spanish. The last publication in 1998 was his thesis for a doctorate on the Urban Phenomenon. After 41 years in Brazil, Fr Lawrence returned to Malta where he was appointed Rector of the Risen Christ Church in the pastoral zone Ta’ L-Erwieħ in Tarxien, and recently in the parish dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes at Paola.
  • 154. 156 The Americas The Bishop of Londrina, Mgr Geraldo Fernandez, had for some time now, felt the need to suggest to Rome the creation of another diocese having its Seat in the city of Apucarana. This was fast developing into a medium-sized city with about sixty thousand inhabitants. Apucarana is known as the Cidade Alta (High city) because of its geographical location, situated on a hill one thousand meters above sea level. It owed its rapid development to its strategic position, lying between two other cities, Londrina itself and Maringa. Through it passed all the traffic to the South of Parana, leading to the capital Curitiba and the important harbour of Paranagua. The construction of a highway already known as the Rodovia do Café (Coffee Highway) leading to the harbour was already at an advanced stage. Bishop Geraldo Fernandez presented to the Apostolic Nunciature the project of a new Diocese, with parishes coming from the dioceses of Londrina and Campo Mourão.As a result, the configuration of the diocese turned out to be three hundred kilometres in length, reaching out on the north to the State of Sao Paulo, bordering the Rio Paranapanema to the South straddling Rio Ivai (Ivai River), forming a sort of narrow corridor between the dioceses of Londrina and Maringa. Fr Frankie Tabone Adami passed to this new diocese and was later joined by the late Fr Carmelo Mercieca. The latter was ordained priest by Bishop Geraldo Fernandez on 4th July 1965, three months after the installation of the new diocese. Fr Frankie Tabone Adami, after having worked for two and a half years, between 1963 and 1965 in Rolandia with Fr Roque Schoffen, a German priest, was later appointed parish priest to the Parish of Santa Teresina do Menino Jesus in Sabaúdia on the 10th February 1965. The diocese of Apucarana was officially installed on the 28th March 1965 by the Holy See and the Parish of Sabáudia was attached to the same Dr. Fenech Adami visitied the missioanries inParana and São Paulo on the occasion of Eco-92 Mons Annetto Depasquale, vigar General, on his visit to Parana Chapter 29.7 ____________ THE DIOCESE OF APUCARANA
  • 155. 157 Brazil diocese. As a result Fr Frankie turned out to be one of the three diocesan priests of the new diocese – the others being an Italian and a German priest. A month later, he participated in the installation of the first bishop Mgr Romeu Alberti who had served for some time as an Auxiliary Bishop in Sao Paulo. He had participated in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, as a result of which he brought with him new and rich pastoral orientations. On the 16th of April 1966 the new bishop handed to Fr Frankie responsibility for the Cathedral, and allocated Padre Alberto Peron as his auxiliary. Padre Peron had a deep knowledge of the Liturgical reform which Vatican II was envisaging. This reform the bishop considered as a precious instrument for the renovation of the Church. Fr Miguel Pace, Mgr Joseph Agius, Fr Lucas Azzopardi, Fr. Frankie Tabone Adami, Fr Paul Formosa OSA, Fr. Xavier Mifsud OSA, Fr Constantine Borg OSA, Fr Pual Brincat and Mgr Bernard Gafa Fr Frankie Tabone Adami, Archbishop Giuseppe Mercieca during his visit in Brazil, Fr.Michael Pace and Fr Anthony Portelli who accompanied Archbishop Mercieca Maltese relatives and friends on a visit to Brazil Fr.Provincial Paul Pace S.J. visiting his brother brother Fr Michael In July 1972 Fr Frankie was sent to the parish of St Joseph in the city of Cambira. Fr Frankie, at the request of the bishop, built a new Parish House near to the church because the ground where the old wooden house stood was needed by the local government as part of a new square. As the Parish and the town progressed, the Parish Financial Council decided to build a new hall to replace another wooden hall. This was inaugurated on the feast of the Patron Saint. Fr Frankie himself paid monthly visits to these rural communities, celebrating Mass, making himself available for confessions and inviting them to participate in the Pastoral Council of the Parish. These communities were very alive and the liturgical and catechetical life of the communities was evident. The severe frost of 1975 forced several families to abandon their fields to try their fortune in the bigger cities. It was sad that when the communities had begun to organise
  • 156. 158 The Americas population, such as sewing, cooking, painting and other trades. These courses were not confined only to his parishioners but to people belonging to other religions or people of no religion at all. Because of his enthusiasm and openness, he was soon appointed President of the COSAP. From this position he was instrumental in building a link with the Municipal authorities and thus multiplied these courses for an ever greater number of citizens. Fr John Xerri OP who at that time had arrived in the diocese, was very impressed by the work of Fr Dominic. He influenced him in his commitment with the poor, as Fr Xerri once revealed to his colleagues. After years of strenuous activity, Fr Dominic fell victim to various illnesses, and then he suffered a stroke, which led to years of suffering, until he was called to eternal life on 24th June 2004. Another priest who joined the diocese of Apucarana was Fr Michael Pace. He came to Brazil in late 1969 after studying philosophy and arts and the first year of Theology at the University of Malta. He was destined to work in the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo. Michael did not feel attracted to the hectic life of Sao Paulo, and following a visit to Parana, he found the environment there more agreeable. He asked Fr Frankie to help him move to the diocese ofApucarana. Bishop Dom Romeu did not object and promptly received Michael in his diocese. Fr Miguel (as he became known), was ordained in 1972. His calm, friendly and especially reflective character was also considered a blessing for the diocese of Apucarana. He passed the first years of his priesthood in the southern part of the themselves the exodus began and those who remained behind lost their enthusiasm. Fr Frankie had no choice but to give more attention to the communities in the town. The Civil Authorities built several popular housing estates and as such a number of Deaconries (Church Communities) cropped up, all of them with their own chapel and the necessary pastoral structures, where the Mass could be celebrated every month. The presence of Fr Frankie in the diocese of Apucarana attracted the attention of other Maltese priests. Fr Bernard Gafa of Londrina came in contact with a Maltese Capuchin, interested in working in Brazil as a diocesan priest. Fr Gafa, knowing that his bishop was not in favour of receiving ex- religious, presented Fr Camilleri to Fr Frankie to study the possibility of Bishop Romeu Alberti accepting him in his Seminary. Mgr Romeu accepted the seminarian in the diocese of Apucarana. Dominic was one of the three priests ordained in the new diocese, on Christmas Day 1966. In fact the late Fr Dominic Camilleri proved to be a very dedicated priest. For some time he worked with Fr Frankie at the Cathedral, but soon after, was appointed as first parish priest of the newly created parish of Sao Benedicto at Vila Regina, a poor periphery of Apucarana, where he started in earnest to organize the new parish. He soon embarked upon the building of the parish church. In his position as parish priest of Sao Benedicto, he was also responsible for the Diaconate (Community) in the Distrito (village) of Caixa Sao Pedro, where he built the parish house of the new parish. But the great work of Fr Dominic was in the social field, when he integrated his parish in the activities of COSAP – The Council of the Social Activities of Apucarana. In this new field, jointly with his work as parish priest, with the help of some youths, especially Aurora Colombo, Fr Dominic started visiting all the parishes of the diocese, promoting works of Promoção Humana (Human Promotion), organizing different courses to promote the education of a poor
  • 157. 159 of spiralling inflation. Unless one was well-informed, it was difficult for any individual to understand what was really happening in Brazil. Bishop Celso Antõnio Marchiori – the fourth bishop of the diocese – was then worried because of the reforms so necessary in the Seminary. Normally in Brazil a fully fletched diocese will have a separate seminary called Propedeutico meant for the beginners, another for the philosophy students and still another seminary for the Theology students. Today in the North of Parana with its three dioceses of Londrina, Apucarana and Maringa, the seminarians study philosophy together at the PUC – Pontifical Catholic University in Maringa, and Theology in the PUC of Londrina. It is believed that by studying together rather than separately in their dioceses, but with each diocese having its own Seminary with its own Rector and the Spiritual Director, the seminarians can have a better personal contact, considered the secret of all seminary formation. In this scenario Fr Miguel became the Rector of the Theological Seminary of the diocese of Apucarana, situated in Londrina. Another priest who came to join the diocese of Apucarana in November 1979 was Fr Lucas Azzopardi OP. He started working with Fr Reginald Borg OP in Londrina, Faxinal and in Matinhos. In 1985 Fr Lucas thought of passing to the diocesan clergy. Fr Francisco presented Fr Lucas’s wish to Bishop Mgr Domingos Wisniewski. His wish was granted and after some years of experience as Parish Priest of Guaraçi he was unanimously accepted by the bishop´s Council. As a diocesan priest he worked in the parishes of Guaraçi, the parish of Nossa Senhora das Graças, the parish of Itagugé and the parish of Santa Inês along the Rio Paranapanema. He celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest with the presence of some 29 priests, Maltese and Brazilians, including the bishop Mgr Domingos in Itaguajé on the 14th March 1966. It was in this parish, too, that he received the visit of the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr Giuseppe Mercieca and the Vicar General, Mgr Annetto Depasquale – two memorable visits Brazil diocese, in Ivaipora, working in a team with two other priests. After some time, he was transferred to the northern part of the diocese, serving for a number of years in the parish of Sao Inacio. With the arrival of the second bishop of the diocese Mgr Wisniewski in 1983, Fr Miguel attracted the attention of the new bishop. His companions who already knew him very well also respected him immensely. He was soon asked to become the Pastoral Coordinator of the diocese, a position in which he served successfully for five years (1984-1988). After working in various parishes in the south and the centre of the diocese, he was called to serve in the Parish of Jardim Alegre and in the parish of St Sebastian in Astorga, a city with twenty three thousand inhabitants. Fr Miguel had the opportunity to study for six months in Bogota in Colombia on pastoral-theological recycling, organized by the CELAM – the Episcopal Council for Latin America. Following this, he was appointed as the diocesan counsellor of the Comunidades Eclesias de Base. At that time, the land reform was perhaps the most important aspect of these structuralreforms,andFrMiguel,togetherwithothermembers of the comunidades eclesias de base, gave his backing to the farmers involved in this struggle for land reform. He gave due importance to the formation of the people integrated in this pastoral activity, emphasizing biblical studies, the social teaching of the Universal as well as of the local Church. Fr Miguel was deeply respected too by his Maltese compatriots for whom he was a point of reference in those turbulent years Fr. MIchael Pace, Bishop Costa, the late Fr. Dominic Camilleri anda Brazilian companion
  • 158. 160 The Americas for all the Maltese priests and nuns. After eight years serving in these last two parishes, namely Iguaraçu and Ângulo, he ended up as Parish Priest in Pitangueiuras. His work in all these parishes included special reforms such as re-structuring the Parish churches and very often building or reforming the parish house. In the Parish of Iguaraçu, he even rebuilt a College of a Congregation of nuns which had been allowed to deteriorate at the hands of the municipal authorities. Moreover, he dedicated most of his time to giving biblical and liturgical formation to the laity, instilling in the agentes de pastoral (lay pastoral workers), a new life and a new spirit in the faithful at large. Between 1998 and 2007 he very often sought Fr John Caruana of Maringa because in his region where he acted as a priest the struggle for land reform was very present. Fr Caruana had by now established good contacts with the leaders of the farmers through the Comissao Pastoral Da Terra - CPT (Pastoral Commission for Land Reform) in Parana, which gave great support to the farmers and their lay movement known as the Movimento Dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra – The Landless Peasants Movement. Fr Lucas found time to publish spiritual books too. The first publication in Maltese was on the Rosary, a book he eventually translated into Portuguese. He also published Atletas De Deus in 1984 followed by AHistoria da Pároquia de Itaguajé. These were followed by a series of other publications. His most recent writing was Celebrando a Vida – minhas experiencias pastorais vividas aqui no Brazil e em Malta. In 1969 Bishop Romeu’s strong belief in the new ministries that Vatican II had proposed, including that of married Deacons, led him to ask Fr Frankie Tabone Adami to prepare a project for the Diocese. It was then taken up by the Regional Sul II of the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil. In July 1970, Fr Frankie with the collaboration of some priests of other dioceses started the formation of the first married deacons. The diocese of Apucarana became known as The Diocese of the Diaconate. In 1978 Fr Frankie was asked to participate in the organization of the new Philosophical Institute of the diocese for the formation of the seminarians. He lectured on the History of Ancient Philosophy and taught Ontology, Ethics and Latin, besides serving as Spiritual Director till as late as 2009. In 1983 Bishop Domingos appointed him as his Vicar General. The successor of Bishop Domingos, Mgr Vincenzo Bernetti, confirmed him in the post, as did Bishop Celso Antonio Melchiori. As a member of the College of Advisors, he collaborated with the late Fr Dominic Camilleri in the Ecclesiastical Chamber of the Diocese. When Fr Dominic died on the 24th June of 2004, Fr Frankie succeeded him as president. The late Fr Peter Fenech was born on the 30th July 1935 at Dingli. He was ordained priest on the 7th April 1962. Soon after his ordination, he went to Brazil, together with Fr Frankie Tabone Adami, his colleague. His first commitment wasThe Late Fr. Peter Fenech, a pioneer Chapter 29.8 ____________ THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SAO PAULO The late Fr Peter Fenech
  • 159. 161 they could do little. Bishop Luciano, Fr Franco together with Xavier, Daniel and John never left his bedside. After a stroke and three heart attacks, sadly, Fr Anton passed away peacefully on Saturday 16th April. Total Sincerity and Confidence in His Mother In a letter he wrote to his mother, Fr Anton told her: “Dear Mother, I want your help so that I remain faithful to the mission that God has revealed to me and given me. I can tell you mother, that it is not easy for me to remain faithful to God’s mission. I can easily become a priest doing what the people expect of me without accomplishing not even one per cent of what God wants of me! That is, if in the letters that I am writing to you, you perceive that something can be wrong with me, advise me right away so that I revise my actions and projects.” The Auxiliary Bishop Luciano Mendes de Almeida had this to say: “Padre Sammut, in a short period of time you had won your people with your love, simplicity and sympathy. You were always unpretentious, friendly and eager to serve. You left your native country, your parents and chose to work in our periphery of Sao Mateus. The community that never left you in your hour of need praying and singing. United around you in your death, the community emboldened by their faith in the resurrection, when you would meet again, wanted then to accompany you till the cemetery. Fr Anton, the lesson of your life remains with us all. We imitate your availability and continue your work in the periphery. Teach us to face life as you did most generously. Intercede for us all laity and brothers in the priesthood. We ask you to get for us from the Almighty the grace to overcome our attachments and that we always choose the side of those most in need.” It is worth also citing Fr Miguel Pace who wrote: “Being a foreigner he wanted to incarnate himself in the Brazilian reality. He understood that if he remained with the mentality of a foreigner, he could not be of help to the Church in Brazil. Since his first day in Brazil he made a great effort to adapt Brazil in Rolandia in the State of Parana, followed by Sabaudia as parish priest. Later he moved to Londrina where he served as Rector of the Minor Seminary and formed part of the Presbyterian Council. He went to Sao Paulo in 1970, serving as parish priest in Araçariguarma, in Sao Roque parish. He served as Spiritual Director at the Propedeutico Nossa Senhora da Assunção at the Seminario de Teologia Bom Pastor between 1999 and 2006. From there he found himself responsible for the Cura da Catedral till his death on the 14th April 2009. In the Região Pastoral Sé he served as Vice- Director of the Cursilho de Cristiandade, member of the Presbyterial Council and Rector of the Deacons’ House. He was also parish priest in Santo Eduardo, Divino Espirito Santo and Assunção de Nossa Senhora.As a Regional Vicar General he served with Cardinal Evarist Arns and three bishops: Bishop Antonio Gaspar, with Bishop Manoel Parrado Carral and with Bishop Tarcisio Scaramussa. A quality which all his Maltese colleagues appreciated in Fr Fenech during his long stay in Sao Paulo was that his house was always open to all. They could call anytime as they were always welcome and there they could sit down, chat, dine and sleep. Whether his colleagues were in Sao Paulo to attend some seminar or for health reasons like in the case of Fr Joe Galea of Gozo or Fr Dominic Camilleri his house was always open. Fr Anton Sammut was called early in life when he was hit by a car during the procession of Easter. For four days he was in hospital under observation. The doctors did not note anything serious. Then on the following Thursday, in the afternoon, his health suddenly d e t e r i o r a t e d . Although he was being overseen by a team of good doctors, Fr Michael Pace, Fr.Arthur Vella SJ and Fr. Peter Fenech
  • 160. 162 The Americas himself, so much so that various people who came to know him would not believe that he is not Brazilian. He was convinced of the necessity to plant a Church which is incarnated. He did not believe in a Church where one appears beautiful, but in a Church that is formed by the communion of persons who are bent to transform the environment where they live. He believed in a Church that is not only of the priest, but of the people where all have a mission to complete. As a result, as a priest he put himself at the service of the people, not dominating but orientating. He hated to be called ‘Senhor’ as it is used here in Brazil. He wanted to serve in a poor parish in the periphery so that he can introduce Christ the Liberator to the people that most needed Him. Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, Archbishop of Sao Paulo, in a letter he wrote to the parents of Fr Anthony Sammut, Joseph and Beatrice Sammut, on the occasion of the tragic death of their son, expressed himself this way: “I wish to show you my sympathies for this sudden and unexpected loss. As a pastor of the city of Sao Paulo and friend of your son Anton, I wish to show you my solidarity in this sad moment, by reminding
  • 161. 163 you of the words of Jesus in John chapter 11, v.25: ‘I am the resurrection and life. He who believes in me, although he dies, will not perish, but lives forever’. The Lord has brought us a new hope that nobody else can give to us. For the Christian, death is a separation but not the end of everything; it is a different life in the bosom of the Lord. Anton had impressed one and all with his dedicated life here in our midst. During his Theology studies he always spent his free time mixing with the Community of St Matthew. When he was ordained deacon and then a priest, he confessed to me that he wanted to dedicate himself totally to the poor community of St Matthew. He lived up to his wishes for he was a real missionary, exhorting the laity to participate actively in the Community. The seed that he had sewn bore fruit as he followed on the footsteps of his Lord and Master. Fr Anton remains alive amongst us and especially so in the heart of the faithful of the Community of St Matthew who had learnt to love him as true friends.  Dear Joseph and Beatrice, God will be ever thankful for what you did with your son. God will never forget the good that your son made here in the diocese of Sao Paulo. Be strong and console yourselves so that you will be able to understand the plans of God. The mission of Anton was short but he observed it in an excellent manner. From the bosom of the Lord your son blesses you as he also blesses the Church of Sao Paulo. I give you my blessing. Your Brother in the Living Christ in our midst.” Cardinal Arns concluded. Fr Charles Borg has been living in Brazil since 1971 and in Araçatuba since 1980. Actually he is parish priest of St Anthony of Padua and the Vicar General of the Diocese of Araçatuba. He is coordinator of the Course of Theology for the Laity, a member of the Academy of Literature of Araçatuba, honorary citizen of the city, a weekly writer in the Folha da Região, produces a weekly meditation on the local television, and has a weekly programme on Radio Cultura FM. Fr Charles (Carmel) Borg joined the Order of the Dominicans with whom he completed the study of Philosophy and Theology in the St Thomas de Aquinas Institute in Malta, and graduated as Lector in the same courses. He was ordained priest in 1968 and opted to work in Brazil, starting in the cities of Faxinal and Londrina and later in Aracatuba, already as a diocesan priest. He published five books: Ver A Vida, Venham Comer, Filho, Vai Trabalhar Na Minha Vinha. Catequese Para Crisma and Catequese Batismal The Three Meninos When Xavier Cutajar, John Mallia and Daniel Balzan were ordained priests, they asked the bishop of their pastoral region to let them work together. The bishop at first did not like the idea. But then  after consulting Cardinal Arns - Sao Paulo was still one diocese - he thought it was wise to give them a chance. They were given a huge parish in Osasco in the periphery of Sao Paulo. They opted for the methodology and spirituality of the church base communities (CEBs), making personal contact with the people, visiting the families, giving all type of preparation for the sacrament of marriage, preparing parents to baptise their children, visiting them in time of suffering, organising the Christmas Novena and the Campanha da Fraternidade during Lent. They celebrated Mass in the homes for small groups. As a result new lay leaders started appearing in what was a stagnant centralised parish, well in the periphery of the diocese and far out in the State of Sao Paulo, abandoned by Brazil Fr. Charles Borg Chapter 29.9 ____________ THE DIOCESE OF OSASCO
  • 162. 164 The Americas the local authorities. They realized that when the priest visited the families in their homes the atmosphere changed. The parishioners were now individuals who could express what they needed and what they thought. At the church the people are shy and reserved. At their home, they speak out and the priest becomes one of them eager to help with their problems. It is interesting how the involvement in the social problems of the parish and the parishioners began. The three of them, now working as a group, realized that many families were asking for baptism very often in an urgent manner. When all of a sudden the children became sick, and various were in danger of death, it was the priests who helped them realize that well in the centre of the community there was a big deposit of rubbish in the open air. This was the cause of all the trouble. The families were told time and time again that God was in favour of life. God does not want death, much less the death of so many babies. The people soon learnt that the rubbish dump was the cause of so much sickness and not God’s will. As a new leadership was cropping up in the parish, their conscience awareness was maturing. They soon felt the need to organise themselves. They succeeded in collecting thirteen thousand signatures which were presented to the local authorities. This struggle attracted the attention of the church press, the local press and even the national press. People at large became conscious that there was a different way of how to deal with problems, and that the Church incarnated in the sufferings and the problems of the people, was very much concerned. They gradually understood that it is important to be firm and organised. This was a time when organised society did not Orindation of Fr. Andrew Zammit of Siggiewi Various moments in the Pastoral life of Fr Xavier Cutajar
  • 163. 165 Brazil brother of the theologian Leonard Boff taught, namely that the Church without St Paul would have become more the Church of the Jews rather than the Universal Church as we know it today. The Church, according to Clodovis, in its essence should be the disciple of Christ of the Gospel, without losing its ability to answer to the challenges that face exist. The Church people were pioneers in this field. As time passed by, the pastoral formation of the laity began to give results. There was space for the extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and the ministers of the Word of God to involve themselves more directly in the liturgy. The priests realized that married men and women, or youths for that matter, involved in the worker’s world and in the student body developed a different language when they came to interpret the Word of God. It was perhaps less scholarly but nearer to the problems around them. The parish gave great importance to the Biblical Formation of these leaders who participated with enthusiasm. Fr Daniel Balzan had arrived in Brazil on the 17th January 1971 together with John Mallia and Xavier Cutajar when Brazil was under military rule. This meant that when in their free time they wanted to visit Fr Peter Fenech in Ipiranga, a relatively far off city, they had to inform the police of their travel arrangements. They studied Theology at the Faculdade Pontificia de Teologia Nossa Senhora da Assunção in Sao Paulo, were ordained deacons at the hands of Cardinal Arns, and were ordained priests in Paola in Malta. Fr Daniel admits that the Church in Brazil has recently inclined more to the charismatic Movement, but he also believes that with intelligence and openness, we can all work together with the base church communities (CEBs) and the Charismatic Movement. He insists with the latter that they cannot close themselves within their movement because they would be missing the sense of pertaining to the universal church. He encourages them to respect the directives and counsels of the CNBB (the Brazilian Bishop’s Conference), which deal with some important themes like baptism of the spirit and the gift of the tongues. He assures them that he is prepared to respect their ways of praying but he expects them to participate in the activities of the parish too. He strongly believes in the Church of the base communities. In his pastoral activity he is inspired by what Clodovis Boff, Pastoral Activities of Fr Daniel Balzan Fr.Daniel Balzan
  • 164. 166 The Americas humanity today. Fr Daniel underwent a post-graduate course evaluating his own work within the church. He realized that the Seminary and the Faculty had made of him a theologian, but not a priest. He discovered the far reaching richness of the priesthood working with the Community. In the principal church dedicated to St Roque one can find paintings by the brothers Gentili – Pedro and Hudorico – who are well known for other works of art in several churches in Brazil. These were painted directly on to the wall. Amongst other paintings one finds the Lord`s prayer, the Seven Sacraments, the Four Evangelists, the Theological Virtues and the Old and New Testament apart from the Life of St Roque spread on 36 windows of stained glass. The feast of Sao Roque which is celebrated on the 16th August is considered as one of the more important feasts in the interior of the State of Sao Paulo. It attracts thousands of devotees. His first parish belonged to the municipality of Jardim Helena Maria in the parish Nossa Senhora da Aparecida where he workedfortenyearswithFrXavierCutajarandFrJohnMallia. During those fateful years he learnt what it means to be a real priest through the contact with the people that needed him and asked for his support. In those times they were the only young priests and many parishes were run by nuns. Fr Daniel points out three projects that they embarked upon: the Aterro Sanitário, (removal of rubbish dump), the opening of a First Aid Centre and helping the residents in the Regularização dos Terrenos (acknowledgement of the ownership of their plot). Many families did not have the required documents to prove that they were the owners of the plot on which their house was built. The next parish he was sent to by Bishop Francisco Manuel Viera was Nossa Senhora de Monte Serrate in Cotia where he worked for another ten years. It was a big change. From an industrial periphery he found himself in a parish situated in the countryside. It was in this parish that he welcomed Mgr Annetto Depasquale, and at a later date, Mgr Joseph Mercieca, Archbishop of Malta. The third parish Fr Daniel worked in was that of Sao Roque, a huge parish, at the bidding of the same Bishop Manuel Viera. Those were the Days...! Pastoral da Criança is a very orignal Brazilian Pastoral Activity founded by the late Dr Zilda Arns, Sister of Cardinal Arns
  • 165. 167 Brazil Situated about 40 kilometres from Osasco and 25 kilometres from Cotia, the city of Sao Roque is a mountainous city famous for wine growing and artichokes. In his time three other parishes were created. There he had sixteen communities to take care of, each one with its own chapel, its weekly Celebration of the Word, and its extraordinary minister of the Eucharist to visit the sick, and a number of catechists to take care of the children. Fr Daniel occupied several diocesan roles including the Pastoral Coordinator for the Episcopal Region of Osasco. Very often he accompanied e Bishop Manuel Vieira to meetings of the Conference of the Bishops of the State of Sao Paulo which was a unique and rich experience. He also formed part of the Presbyterial Council of the diocese. Bishop Ercilio Turco, who succeeded Bishop Manuel Vieira, appointed him the Finance Secretary of the Diocese, in which post he helped to modernize the accounts of the whole diocese. This was not an easy task, considering that the diocese of Osasco has 67 parishes spread in thirteen cities in the State of Sao Paulo. It was no surprise that the Diocese of Osasco became a point of reference for its pioneering activity, principally because of the pastoral work developed by these three Maltese priests. They were very often referred to as the three meninos, nicknamed by their admirers and friends as the three musketeers of Osasco. Fr Paul Mercieca, born on the 16th July 1951 at St George’s Parish in Qormi and ordained priest on the 21st April 1979, came from a very religious family. He had another brother working in Brazil, the late Fr Carmelo, who had been sent to Brazil with Bernard Gafa and Francis Debattista. Fr Carmelo started working in the State of Parana and later moved to Presidente Prudente in the state of Sao Paulo. Carmelo and Paul also had two sisters who became nuns. Fr Paul went to Brazil on the 7th April 1980 and was received by Bishop Francisco Manoel Viera. He started his mission in Osasco with the three Maltese priests who helped him to settle down. Fr Paul soon felt that he was more inclined to work in the interior than in a large city. He moved to Sul Americana in St Peter´s Parish in the city of Carapicuiba as parish priest. Between 1981 and 1983 he moved to the city of St Roque and worked as vice parish priest with the late Fr Peter Fenech. After this experience he was appointed parish priest in the parish dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in the city of Marinique. Apart from working in these parishes he participated in an Ecumenical Commission, in the Presbyterial Council and was coordinator of the Deanery of Cotia and St Roque. Fr. Paul with his friends From left ot right: Fr Andrew Zammit, the late Fr Carmelo Bezzina, the late Fr Carmel Mercieca brother of Fr. Paul – sitting in front of him and Mgr. Joseph Agius Fr Paul Mercieca, on the left
  • 166. 168 The Americas The “Cartão de Prata” “On the 40th anniversary of the parish, the Legislative Assembly of Osasco, whose President Mr Aluisio Pinheiro was fruit of this pastoral experience, granted to the parish in the person of Fr Xavier, still parish priest at that time, the Cartão de Prata, which is an acknowledgement given to a community for service rendered. It was a moving ceremony with the presence of two Bishops Emeritus. The President of the Legislative Assembly, Mr Aluisio Pinheiro, who lived all his life in the parish of Nossa Senhora Aparecida and represents the workers’ party, made his first Holy Communion, received the sacrament of Confirmation and married in this parish. His was a moving witness of the three Maltese priests:” I learnt what the word militant means, I learnt what prayer is. Prayer carries with it action, as Jesus did in the Gospel. He sought to make the will of His Father, spent his life doing good to the others. This was the pastoral activity I witnessed all these years in the Parish Nossa Senhora Aparecida for decades. Fr Xavier and his Maltese colleagues, Daniel and Joao let the others do their part, let the laity work and participate.” The Bishops present at the ceremony conceded that these last forty years, this parish formed the parishioners into individuals eager to pass on Gospel values, and transmit the true faith in a practical way. The parishioners learnt to analyse the reality, not only of their parish and community, but they also became interested in national issues going so far as to debate the new Constitution way back in the mid-eighties. They never lost hope but kept alive the Utopia of a better future for themselves and their families. The parishioners learnt to observe the Gospel as a whole, and live it in a practical way. They involved themselves as good militants in the struggle for a peaceful and just society. They believed God wants man to be happy and that this happiness is possible. For this reason the Parish Nossa Senhora Aparecida deserves this honour of receiving the Cartão de Prata (The Silver 1Card). Testimony of Padre Sebastião dos Reis Miranda Padre Sebastião dos Reis Miranda who succeeded the Maltese priests as parish priest in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida l had this to say on the work of Xavier, Daniel and John Mallia. “When still seminarians, we all agreed that it was worth following the footsteps of Xavier, Daniel and John. At that time – in the seventies – the Church in Latin America was taking the first steps in the Conciliar Church, the church of the base communities, the church that made the evangelical option for the poor. I am glad to recall that these three Maltese priests were well committed to this new Church. Their involvement in the social problems of the people caught our attention. Fr Xavier made such an impact with his zeal that he soon became a sense of contradiction for many conservative elements within and outside the Church. Fr Daniel, always positive in his attitude, with his feet firmly on the ground, administered the finances of the diocese most efficiently. Fr John Mallia worked hard and methodically in the parish, especially in the field of education, coordinating better the work in the schools. Fr André Zammit, whom I knew as a seminarian, allowed himself to be influenced by their dedication. Fr Paul Mercieca, a calmer person, always preferred to work in the interior away from the noisy industrial city of Osasco. He preferred agricultural village. When the time came for Xavier, Joao and Daniel to separate, after a decade or so, to work in other environments and parishes, it was a sad moment not only for them but for all of us who accompanied and admired their work.
  • 167. 169 The North East Seminarians and Priests from Gozo In December 1955 Joseph Galea, of Sannat, Gozo was the first seminarian to leave Gozo at the age of 22, for the Diocese of Joao Pessoa, capital of the State of Paraiba, Brazil. He studied Theology at João Pessoa between 1956 and 1959, and was subsequently ordained deacon and then priest, between 1959 and 1961 he served as professor and master of discipline at the Seminary of Cajazeiras. In 1961 he was appointed parish priest of Sao Jose de Piranhas, and for some time served in Cachoeira dos Indios. In 1964 he went to study sociology at Sorbonne in Paris, moved to Louvain in Belgium, from where he went to Rome to complete his studies. When he returned to Brazil in 1971 he became parish priest in Itabaiana. Salvatore Dimech went next, followed in 1963 by John Mary Cauchi together with John Muscat. In the 70s Fr Paul Raggio of Vittoriosa flew to Recife where he met the Gozitan priests and seminarians already working and studying there.At a later date Fr Saviour Borg of Mosta joined them in Recife through the Focolari Movement which had embarked on its activity in Malta a few years earlier. The Gozitan and Maltese priests and seminarians who worked in Brazil, at the invitation of Bishop Carlos Coelho and Bishop Helder Camara, all worked on the outskirts with the very poor. Fr José Galea moved from Paraiba to the federal district in Brazilia in 1973. There he was appointed vicar of Sao Pedro de Alcantara with the mission to found this new parish. In this parish he not only built a very beautiful church but also opened a Trade Centre which could receive about 300 teenagers. The Centre was funded by his friends and benefactors in Gozo. He was also nominated professor at the Seminary Nossa Senhora de Fatima in Brazilia. He published several books of profound spirituality including Livro do Catecismo e Liturgia das Horas in two volumes. Without doubt, he made good use of the years he spent studying. He died in Brazilia on the 31st July 2005, a victim of cancer, and was buried in the yard of the parish church of Sao Pedro de Alcantara which he himself had built. The parish bulletin Folheto da Comunidade of July 2006, the first anniversary of his death, dedicated five pages to Fr Galea, so deep was the respect for him. A laywoman, Maria Aparecida M. Vieira referred to his The Parish Church of São Pedro de Alcantara, from outside and inside, and the tomb of Fr.Galea in the back yard of the same Parish Church. Brazil
  • 168. 170 The Americas death as “the glorious meeting with Jesus whom Padre José loved so much when on earth. His love for the poor, for the parishioners and above all the Missionary ideal was greater than his love for his family, whom he, however, loved so much. Thank you Padre Jose! The richness and depth of your life passed on to us by your word, prayer, acts and charity will always be remembered. You had little time for the earthly things, preferring the divine!” Another parishioner, Andral de Mattos Reis, referred to Fr Galea as a person “who trusted others, was delicate in his dealings with his companions and was confident of the collaboration of the rest, qualities which made of him a person so tranquil! He did not seek applause. The good that he practiced came naturaly to him”. Fr Remig Galea had this to say: “Fr Joseph Galea was a sober and a silent person. He listened to you attentively and never failed to smile. His look was pure and intense. He listened and cared.” His nephew Fr John wrote: “He was my inspiration, my guide, somebody I would like to imitate when I grow up. In fact like him I followed Christ by becoming a priest. From him I learnt to serve God, I admired his courage, his simplicity, and his love for the poor. Above all his humility and deep spirituality impressed me all my life.” In his testimony, Cardinal Emeritus José Freire Falcaõ of Brasilia noted his zeal and good example, and after referring to the beautiful church he had built, the Cardinal emphasized his devotion to the Eucharist, his dedication to the teaching of catechism, and his magnificent social work. 29.10 Paraiba “He has a silent story, but which says a lot” With these words, the young secretary of the Comissao Pastoral da Terra (CPT) – Pastoral Commission for Land Reform of Paraiba, Maria das Graças Teixeira Rodriguez described the work of Fr John Mary Cauchi. “He always worked together with his companions as a team, defending the farmers who were being threatened by the great landowners. He never imagined that he would be involved in this kind of work. The circumstances pushed him into it. He followed closely the suffering of the farmers and despite the difficulties all this involved, he never regretted the battles he had to fight.” Fr John Mary Cauchi was posted to a rural parish where the small farmers were being expelled from their lands because the landowners wanted to invest in the sugar cane, in great plantations. The first unjust result of monoculture is that it leaves no space for the small farmer. “It was our mission, then, to defend the small farmer who has a right to his piece of land to sustain his family and provide food for the masses,” declared the Comissao Pastoral da Terra (CPT) on several occasions. “The Land belongs to humanity as a whole and not to a few selected landowners: The Land belongs to God and as such should be considered as being The Land of the Brethren.’
  • 169. 171 Brazil As time passed and the farmers became more organized, they fought for the land they were threatened to lose, and by so doing, they attracted the attention of the authorities.According to the Estatuto da Terra (The Statute of the Land) enacted by the military government, the land whose title of ownership was the cause of social tensions would be misappropriated for land reform. The farmers responded to this threat of the great landowners by resisting claiming that “from their land they wouldn’t be ousted; it was theirs for keep.” This was the struggle in which Fr John Mary Cauchi, jointly with his companions of the Comissao Pastoral da Terra (CPT) of the Catholic Church, backed by his Bishop José Pirez, became involved. In truth Fr John Mary admits he was remotely prepared for this kind of priesthood and pastoral activity way back in the Seminary in Recife under the responsibility of Dom Helder Camara. In his Seminary days theologians like the Belgian José Comblain, one of the founders of the Theology of Liberation, who was prefect of studies, and a certain Padre Sena responsible for the Juventude Universitaria Catolica, (University Catholic Youths), lectured on Holy Scripture tor them. It was at this time that many priests were being expelled from Brazil. As seminarians, in the week-end and in the summer months, as part of their formation, they were sent to the poor areas of the periphery, where they faced this crude reality of exploitation of the poor. It was the time when the Church in LatinAmerica declared the evangelical option for the poor, and the bishops made it a point that during their formation, the seminarians must experience the conditions of the masses abandoned and excluded in the great favelas of the great metropolis. Fr John Mary remembers how things grew worse under President Medici. All the Church leaders who like him were defending the farmers in their rights, were visited by the Federal Police in their homes, and questioned about their documents, facing the risk of being expelled from Brazil. It was prohibited for two persons to even keep talking on a bus Very often Fr.John Mary had to face the police
  • 170. 172 The Americas stop. They had to report their movements to the police if they wanted to leave their town of origin to visit a friend or relative in another city. They endured all kinds of harassments. He had faced twenty intimidations because of his involvement in the struggle for the land reform. According to the secretary of the CPT, Maria das Gracas, at one moment he had more sittings at the Law Courts to attend than Holy Masses to celebrate. The Comissao Pastoral da Terra of Paraiba with Fr John Mary Cauchi as co-ordinator for two decades or so, gained land for as many as five thousand families. Persons in the know would confirm for us that no lay militant movement in favour of land reform succeeded in gaining as much land for so many families in one particular State. Of these, 500 families gained their piece of land within the precincts of the town where his parish stood - no mean achievement, those in the know would confirm. who accompanied Fr John Mary Cauchi for a decade or more said that the farmers that gained land through the Comissao Pastoral da Terra (CPT) insistently admit. The nuns who accompanied Fr John Mary Cauchi for a decade or more, through the Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) quote the farmers as saying: “Where would we be today if we did not have Fr John Mary with us in our struggle?” For them he was “our Father, our brother and our friend.” He was a person who made their battle his own, irrespective of the consequences. The farmers admired his simplicity, his dedication and his loyalty to their cause. “As a man of prayer, when we returned home very late at night, after a day of hard work and a difficult journey, he would ask us to open the church and prepare the altar to say Mass. If this was not feasible he never failed to recite his breviary.” When the bishop was changed and Fr John Mary realized that the new appointee was not all in favour of land reform as practiced by the CPT, he waited in silence and humility till the new bishop learnt from his priest companions and committed lay people who John Mary really was. When on one occasion he fell sick, the doctors at the hospital were surprised at the amount of backing he received from the young parishioners.At no time did they leave him alone. Even his bishop, José Perez, asked for an extra bed in his room so that he could be near him. “The respect that Fr John Mary commanded was total” – the nuns concluded. This song, paraphrased from Portuguese, epitomizes the Bishop Nikol Cauchi visiting Fr João Maria Cauchi
  • 171. 173 Brazil spirituality of the struggle of Fr John Mary Cauchi and his colleagues in favour of the Land Reform: The Land, God gave it to us, to sow and produce, to collect and share, to live! Let us lift up our hands to God so that He showers on us work, rain and bread. Let us Bless God and ask for His Love, Justice, Health and Peace. God gave us the Land so that we can cultivate it and nobody lacks the daily bread. God wants us to be conscious of the millions without bread, without a roof. Fr John Maria Cauchi had during the decades to face as much as 20 lawsuits with an innumerable number of audiences. The photo above shows Fr. John sitting in front of the Judge. The other photos show members of the equipe of the Land Pastoral Commission sin- ging hymns in a nearby room and the crowd outside the law courts awaiting the outcome
  • 172. 174 The Americas Brazil Testimony of Dom Pires “Fr John Mary Cauchi was first sent as a fidei donum seminarian to Recife. Bishop Helder Camara contacted me saying that the seminarian John Mary Cauchi is not feeling well in Recife which was a great metropolis. He liked to work in a place which is poorer and where common people abound. I accepted him rapidly and in fact his arrival in Paraiba was really a blessing. He was ordained by me at the age of 25 years in December 1967. He wasn’t a great orator but he knew how to communicate well with the farmers. That epoch was marked by two special happenings: the military dictatorship and Vatican II. The Council taught us that the Church is the People of God. The people in Paraiba consisted mostly of poor and simple people. As a result it is our duty to help organise these people and make them understand that the poor are the preferred before the Almighty. The poor are those who do not have money, who are not educated, who do not have any certificate, who only have virtues. They are the preferred of God and the privileged of the Gospel. Evangelising for our diocese was not only pray, celebrate, and administer the sacraments. It was all this, but also be near to the people, live near the people, participate in their struggles, their sufferings and in their victories. John Mary evangelized more by his example than by his words. He lived the Gospel of non-violence, he was present and near the people in their struggles in favour of their rights, He was persecuted, suffered attempts on his life. The signs of this attempt remained marked on the body of his Toyota - bullets that were destined for the driver and who was with him at that moment. But he did not give up from his commitment to the farmers. Every time that I as bishop had to go to defend with my presence the farmers, there was always present John Mary Cauchi. On a Maundy Thursday when we were about to start the Mass of Unity, John Mary and Fr Anastasio arrived with their clothes all wet and covered with mud. They had spent the night with the farmers and their families who had been expelled from their fields the day before. They came straight to the Cathedral to celebrate the Mass of Unity because they did not have time to go home to take a bath and change their clothes. I can of course say much more on the evangelical commitment of Fr John Mary Cauchi. This short testimony reflects my appreciation and gratitude for this priest who dedicated all his life to the cause of evangelization in Paraiba.” Bishop Jose Maria Pires - Archbishop Emeritus of Paraiba
  • 173. 175 A LUTA D E A L G A M A R The Struggle of Algamar The Luta de Algamar is remembered in the North East as a landmark in the struggle of the local farmers to defend their farmstead. It all started on the 30th December 1979 when the farmers of Algamar, Picas, Caipora and Maria de Mello published an open letter in the journal O Norte in which they denounced the fact that about 200 cows that belonged to José Valdomiro invaded their farms and destroyed their plantations. The farmers managed to chase away the cows, and the owner called the police accusing the farmers that it was they who started the confusion. The police, as always happened in those days, attacked the innocent farmers. There were conflicting reports from every side, with an undisputed bias in favour of the great land owners and always putting the small farmers in a bad light. Two Dutch nuns were for a time arrested, which called for the intervention of the Archbishop of Paraiba, Dom Jose Maria Pires. The Governor ordered the release of the nuns and of the farmers who had been arrested and beaten. The Parochial Council of Duas Estradas and the Communitarian Council of Bairro de Rangel wrote to the Centre in Defence of the Human Rights of the Archdiocese of João Pessoa. They pleaded for the release of land in favour of the 700 families that were involved in the struggle; and for the police to defend the farmers who had lived and worked there for the last 40 years or so, irrespective of the controversial claims of the landowners. The Governor criticized Bishop José for preaching civil disobedience. But even so, on the 16th of January 1980 the Governor met the farmers, withdrew the police force and promised to meet the President of the Republic on this issue. Half measures like these, promising one thing and then acting differently, were a very common behaviour of the State Governors. It is in this context that Bishop Jose Perez preached civil disobedience. Quoting Pope Paul VI, the bishop
  • 174. 176 The Americas declared that violence is neither Christian nor evangelical. “But the Church does not accept a passive attitude which isolates the poor and the humble. The Church preached civil disobedience with all the risks it involved when the orders from above were clearly unjust and had the aim of destroying the weak. In Algamar neither the farmers nor the committed laity were responsible for the violence. With our presence we only wanted to defend the right of the farmers to fight for their legitimate property, and for their right to meet and discuss their problems. We do not accept that the police prevent the Church people to stay with the farmers. Since we did not succeed either of these points despite the appeals I have made to the Governor, I feel it my duty to be personally near the farmers in their struggle. The nuns and the priests will return to give support and moral help to the farmers in Algamar. It is a promise of the Archbishop.” Bishop Helder Camara, whose diocese of Recife and Olinda is very close to the area in question, convinced himself that the result of this conflict would influence the Land Reform in his and other dioceses in the North East in the future. Determined to practise collegiality supporting his bishop companion José Pires, Bishop Helder told the press that “Algamar, the fazenda which is at the centre of successive conflicts between the farmers and the great landowners, in the interior of Paraiba is the symbol of ‘the non-violent struggle’ in favour of the Land Reform. God forbid that the farmers do not come out of this conflict victorious.” The bishops together with all those who gathered on the 6th of January 1980 decided to expel the cows which the landowner let loose to invade the cultivated land of the farmers. One can imagine that with the support of such personalities as Bishop Helder and Bishop Pires, a host of social movements from all over the North East, from all over Brazil and even from foreign countries, would give their support to the farmers in their struggle of Algamar. Thus it became a landmark in the peaceful struggle preached by the Church in favour of Land Reform. The present phase of the struggle in favour of the land reforms has already lasted three decades. Despite the progress achieved so far one cannot say that it is concluded yet. “The Struggle Goes On” as the saying goes in Brazil. Algamar in the words of the declaration of the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil “has become the symbol of the peaceful struggle, an expression of the truly non-violent action in favour of the defence of the principle that every farmer should have his farmstead on which he can work, produce and live. The farmers were even being forbidden by the authorities to meet and discuss their rights .We ask for His Love and Union so that we can restore Humanity. Let us Work in this Land so that the daily bread would not lack on anybody’s table!” 29.11 Pernambuco The Diocese of Recife Fr Salvatore Borg, born in Mosta and ordained priest on the 20th July 1974, left for Frascati soon after his ordination, to get toknowbetterthespiritualityoftheFocolareMovement.There he volunteered to be at the service of the Movement wherever he was needed. He was chosen to go to Brazil, but had to wait seventeen months to obtain a visa. He spent this interval in Augusta in Sicily working together with another priest. It was a very positive experience. The people appreciated their zeal and admired the way both priests prayed before the Blessed Sacrament.
  • 175. 177 Brazil He finally left for Brazil in November 1978. After a period of formation in the Mariopolis Centre in the State of Sao Paulo, he was posted to Belem in the State of Para which is considered as the harbour of the Amazon. On arriving in Belem, he was immediately struck by the humidity of the place. The Indios take life easily. They spend hours chattering, resting on the ground. Time is of no consequence, so that few bother to wear a watch. Fr Salvatore remembers they were hardly ever punctual, not even for a wedding. Once he excused himself for being late as he had to struggle through the paths amongst the trees. Their answer was: “don’t bother Father, the bride is still washing in the river!” From Belem in the Amazon he moved to the state of Pernambuco in the diocese of Recife, the diocese of Dom Helder Camara. He used to live in the Mariopolis where he was a great help organising retreats. At one moment, another priest joined him in this work and he was able to take the responsibility of the most remote parish of Igarassu, jointly with his companion. There he met members of the Apostleship of Prayer, a movement that is spread all over the North east of Brazil. Fr Salvatore considers these members as the bulwark in this remote parish. When the authorities wanted to widen the highway and had to demolish part of the Church, these members negotiated an alternative space, where Fr Salvatore built a new church. This he built in five years with the generosity of the Maltese people. In one compound he built a church holding 400 people, a pastoral centre and a parish house. When he used to see the Church packed with people, Fr Salvatore forgot the sacrifices that were needed to build this project. Vocation-wise he was satisfied that three young girls joined the religious life, a young lad joined a religious order and still another became a seminarian – the latter is today the parish priest in a parish of 120,000 people. After ten years in Recife Fr Salvatore joined a bishop who formed part of the Focolare Movement, in Palmares, where he eventually spent the last ten years of his stay in Brazil. He was appointed as parish priest in Cortes, a parish that had not had a resident priest for years. He recalls the arrival of a particular lady who with her talents and creativity animated the liturgy, organising a strong choir of children with the help of the nuns, and encouraging the children to help the poor. There too he had to face the building of another parish church, with so much sacrifice from the local people and the help of The Parish Church Fr. Saviour, on the right, visiting Parana
  • 176. 178 The Americas many Maltese. The social milieu of Cortes was very difficult. Practically all the land belonged to one person with no industry around except for a sugar usine that was the property of the same person. This meant most of the workers were totally dependent on the whims of one landowner who in turn treated them badly. Many families were scattered in far-off little villages which Fr Salvatore had to serve. Every Friday he used to fill the van with lay people and did the rounds, one village after the other, animating the liturgy. The temperature was never less than 30 degrees centigrade all the year round, with two seasons, six months of rainfall and six months dry. His strength was fast ebbing and in 1991 he decided to return to Malta to celebrate his 25th year of his priesthood with his colleagues.At present he is parish priest of Immaculate Conception Parish in Ħamrun. 29.12 State of Alagoas “They Do not Say No; But It Does not Mean That It will Be Yes!” With these words, Fr Alex Cauchi, who attributes this saying to his late grandfather, who is the father of Fr John Mary Cauchi, explains the behaviour of the politicians when confronted with the great structural reforms that Brazil in general and the North East in particular needed. Alex went to Brazil when still a seminarian, as an experience. When he finally decided to return to Brazil for good, he chose the North East, but because of passport control, with the help of Fr John Xerri OP he entered Brazil through Curitiba in the South, three thousand kilometres or so far from the North East, as his final destination. It was the bishop of Curitiba that signed the document saying that Fr Alex will be his responsibility. Fr John Mary Cauchi, Fr Alex’s uncle, was blacklisted with the police, and as a result every time Alex entered or left Brazil, he had to identify himself, and was always asked whether he knew John Mary Cauchi. The Authorities knew that he was related, and he never denied it. Brazil was still under military rule, and the North East, because of Dom Helder Camara and other bishops, was politically considered a hot area. Fr Alex tried to work in the South in Parana, but his vocation was to work in the North East. At the time he meant to go to Paraiba. Dom Jose Pirez, a forward looking bishop who whole-heartedly backed the land reform, was about to end his term as bishop. His Gozitan colleagues thought it better for him to go to the state of Alagoas where Fr Jimmy Xerri of Nadur was already working as parish priest. Arriving in Muricy the capital of Alagoas, he was soon appointed as vicar to Fr Jimmy. Fr Alex never refused to work in a parish but his vocation forced him to be in favour of a Church preoccupied with the Mgr Bernard Gafa. Mgr Joseph Agius and Fr Paul Brincat visiting Fr Alex Fr Alex in the middle, with Fr John Mary on the left, and Joao Ma- ria´s father and Alex´s grandfather on the right
  • 177. 179 Brazil oppression of the multitudes.Way back in 1991-92 he had been impressed by the work of his uncle and learnt to distinguish between trying to solve the problem of poverty and misery by giving help-outs and embarking on the structural reforms that countries like Brazil needed. In his first experience, he met a farmer who asked for his help because the owner of the land had asked him to give it up. It happened at the same time that the Church in Alagoas had decided to set up the CPT – Comissao Pastoral da Terra – and he was soon chosen to make part of the first group. The newly appointed Comissao decided to accompany the farmers who were being threatened of being ousted from their farms. He very often felt frustrated because of the lack of backing by the civil authorities in favour of a true land reform. I met him at the end of the government led by President Lula. It was Alex’s firm opinion that things could have progressed much more. He felt frustrated by the fact that the Federal Government had to build up a majority in the Congress in Brasilia, by joining with traditional politicians who always backed the great landowners, and who very often were great landowners themselves. This complicated matters especially in his State ofAlagoas. Traditional families were usually great landowners entrenched in politics. At some time Fr Alex made some contacts with missionaries working in the Peruvian Amazon. He felt he needed a change and decided not to lose the opportunity to know the problems of the Amazon which stretches from Bolivia, Peru to Colombia and to five states in Brazil. He started with a Gozitan priest who was his school mate, Fr Raymond Portelli, who was in Iquitos deep in the Peruvian Forest, with whom he stayed for three years. Then he moved to another Prelazia which stretched from one end to another always by the side of the river. His parish this time, working in a group, stretched as much as one thousand kilometres, so that it was easier and
  • 178. 180 The Americas cheaper to keep in contact by plane than anything else. At one moment he was working in a parish which for the previous five years had no priest, because the Jesuit who had been in charge denounced the destruction of the forest and, being threatened, had to leave. The Jesuit related how in Rio Putumayo during a period of 12 years at the height of the rubber plantations, a certain Saldanha is accused of decimating between thirty and 60 thousand Indios . After this experience Fr Alex returned to Alagoas, which by this time had a new bishop very conscious of the social problems, including the land reform problem. As a certain Dr Carlos coordinator of the Commissao Pastoral da Terra (CPT), pointed out: “This conscience awareness never ends. The common people still have a negative idea of the work done in favour of land reform; they think that this initiative goes against the progress of Brazil, as they believe the people involved want to take that which does not belong to them. In these circumstances the work of the Church and of people like Fr Alex is indispensable – guaranteeing the rights of the farmers which amounts to guaranteeing the livelihood of the farmers and their families. Jesus said ‘I came so that man can have life, and life in abundance’, yet here in Alagoas we still have so much misery. Fr Alex assumed full responsibility for the poor! He never forgot his duty towards God and the Eucharist. But he is determined to fight for the rights of the farmers. Alex arrived in Muricy to work with Fr Jimmy, but he was already imbued with the social teaching of the Church especially with that aspect that had to do with land reform. Soon after arriving, he called on me for more details about the work in favour of the farmers in Alagoas. He was responsible for calling me back to the CPT (Comissao Pastoral da Terra) because some time before I had left the CPT to work with another group. In 1997 I was chosen as coordinator. The work, like the problems, is varied: we defend people working in the sugar cane very often under semi-slavery conditions, farmers who have their small plantations destroyed by the fazendeiros who want to grab their land, families being threatened to leave their land, others who have no land but want to occupy idle land to earn their living.” “We were responsible for three municipalities. Fr Alex was responsible for the municipality called Messias where clashes between farmers and big landowners never cease.The Salesian Bishop Mgr Edivaldo gave them his full support. Once, the bishop was fined 5000 Reais (around 2000 euros) because the Judge claimed that the Bishop was hindering the progress in the State. Then came a new bishop, Mgr José Carlos who had a different mentality and things changed. He nominated Fr Alex to the parish of Sao Miguel dos Milagres where the CPT was involved in a host of conflicts. The big landowners knowing well Fr Alex asked the bishop to send somebody else but not him, and the bishop gave in. It was the time when Fr Alex decided to go the Peruvian Amazon following an invitation he had received. Recently he returned because the new bishop, Mgr Antonio, supports the land reform and none can achieve results more than Fr Alex. The work of the CPT developed in two directions. At one moment it accompanied the sugar cane workers known as boia-frias – trying to organise them in unions, give them advice so that they would not be betrayed by their pseudo- leaders – a very common thing in these far off regions. Then methods changed. It was exactly the time when Fr Alex came that CPT started to work more closely with the farmers. The farmers were helped to organise themselves to occupy idle fazendas. The CPT was one of the few bodies that had the courage to face the great landowners. The CPT as time went on became ever more the voice of the Church.” Dr Carlos concludes. Fr Salvator Vella of Gozo, spent three years in Gozo before going to Brazil and precisely to Alagoas. He then settled in Westminster where he remained for 14 years or so. He went to Brazil on his own, inspired by the spirit of Vatican II. This Council encouraged one and all to think seriously about
  • 179. 181 Brazil serving the Church in the missions. He soon found himself in Alagoas where his principal mission was in the periphery Cha Da Jaqueira which had received its first inhabitants in 1958, the first family being of Senhor Wilson Praxedes de Oliveira. He built his house here as the first inhabitant against the will of his family. In the same year, on the 24th of June, the first Mass was celebrated in this poor periphery by Fr Fernando Lorio.And accepting the suggestion of its first settler Senhor Wilson, the community was dedicated to St John the Baptist. This small community grew slowly until the time came when the bishop Mgr Edvaldo Gonçalves Amaral SDB created it a parish in 1997 having Fr Delfino Barbosa as its first Parish Priest. He in turn was succeeded by Fr Salvator Vella as parish priest on the 16th December 1998. Fr Salvator dedicated himself to make the presence of God on earth felt in the Parish. He worked hard for the unity of all the groups and pastoral initiatives, nourished religious and priestly vocations, and encouraged a Christian matrimonial life. His dream was to make of his Parish a place where the Word of God was proclaimed and listened to, where children looked upon the Church as a sort of second family in their formation by dedicated catechists, a place where all felt young in spirit to receive the ever coming youths, where the sick found comfort. For him the Parish is a mother that gives life, eternal life. In the parish review, Fr Salvator writes that: “the dedication of the Christian laity always involved since the beginning of this bairro, is marvellous. The enthusiasm of the young who have been responsible for the Centre Dom Miguel since its foundation in 1984 is contagious. This enthusiasm is evident in the Sunday Masses, in the catechism school – run by 40 young catechists – in the very work with the young called pastoral da juventude. For all this, my life is a continuous act of thanksgiving, because everything we receive as a gift of the Grace of God.” Fr Salvator has four projects which in one way or other are of Cha da Jaqueira The Parish Church Maria Conceição, Sister Armeizia, Sister Maria Ana and Sisster Girlandia Bishop Nikol Cauchi Blessing the Pastoral Centre
  • 180. 182 The Americas a social nature: the Centro Comunitario Dom Miguel founded in 1984, the project Bom Samaritano with courses in hair dressing, painting, cooking, craft, alternative medicine, and courses in sewing and knitting; the project Thalita, backed by the National Conference of the Religious, the CRB, through which girls between 10 and 18 who are totally or partly abandoned by their families, can attend with the aim of trying to integrate back with their families and with society as a whole. The aim is mainly to help them find a job, inspired by the call of Jesus: Girl, come forward! (Mark 5:41) and lastly, the project that is well known all over Brazil as the Pastoral da Criança, based on human solidarity and passing of knowledge and aiming at the integral development of children from conception to six years of age. Fr Salvator considers himself fortunate to have in his parish the Irmãs Pastorinhas (Pastoral Sisters), a Brazilian version of the Paulinas, who are well known in Italy.They are responsible for the project Thalita within his parish but without doubt, they inspire and animate the entire parish. Sister Luiza dos Santos bears this witness to the work done: “Always attentive to the signs of the times, we communicate to the various groups at the periphery of the parish – the comunidades eclesias de base - the transforming force of the Word of God. We strive to integrate evangelisation with the practice of social justice, working in the schools, providing courses to prepare poor students for the entrance examination to the university, lavishing love on abandoned girls through the project ‘Thalita’, giving support to the pastoral da criança and all encouragement to the project Bom Samaritano.” Of great help in any parish in Brazil are the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. For some time, Fr Salvator felt that he could not cope as he would like to with the sick. With the help of one of the sisters, he succeeded in giving the right formation to prospective candidates and today he has as many as thirty. This was possible thanks to some 400 teenagers who after receiving confirmation in these last years, engaged themselves in the pastoral life of the parish. In the words of John A. Bertolino, a layman in the parish: “We are grateful for having Fr Salvator with us all these years. He is a courageous worker in the vineyard of the Lord, imitating Paul of Tarsus who brought the Faith to his native land – the island of Malta.”
  • 181. 183 Brazil Fr Isnard Farrugia and Fr Dominic Ebejer went to Brazil as missionaries through the Italian Vicariate of the Dominican Province of Bologna, Italy, to Sao Paulo on the 21st December 1957, where they were welcomed by the Italian Friars. They were posted to the Diocese of Goias, situated in the far west of Brazil, some 2500 kilometres away from Sao Paulo. Their first assignment was in the city of Itapirapua where they took care of an extensive missionary area spread over six towns, at that time all of them cut off and primitive: Novo Brazil, Fazenda Nova, Jusserand, Santa Fe, Britannia near the river Araguaia and other areas which belonged to the municipality of Goias. Later they moved to the diocese of Londrina, serving in the towns of Faxxinal, Borrazopolis and Londrina itself, and to the dioceses of Ponta Grossa and Curitiba in the South of Parana. If all went well, the Order planned to open its own Maltese Dominican Mission. In fact this mission was a success story. By 1964 they were already responsible for four parishes: two in Faxxinal, a city in the interior of the State of Parana, an area of about one thousand square kilometres; four other parishes, two in Borrazopolis, another extensive city in the interior, and two parishes in two important cities, Londrina in the North of Parana and in Ponta Grossa in the South of Parana. Eventually they also served in Matinhos a city by the sea, and Curitiba, the Capital of Parana. In the next 50 years many Maltese Dominican Friars followed in their footsteps to help in this onerous task. The first missionaries apart from Fr Isnard and Fr Dominic Ebejer were Fr Gejtan Xerri, Fr Eugenio Cachia, Fr Anton Abela Depares, Fr Denis Cuschieri, Fr Tonin Grech, Fr Konstantin Fsadni, and Brothers Dominic Farrugia, Giordan Scicluna, Rafael Olaf Cini. Others joined them, some for short or longer periods of times. Among them Fr Marcolin Camilleri, Fr Innocent Barbara and Fr Gorg Grech and Fr Angelo Mamo. Later on, these were joined or substituted by Cini, Fr Christopher Fr Konstantin Mamo, Fr Tumas Zammit, Fr Peter Bonnici, Fr Reginald Borg, Fr Luke Azzopardi, Fr John Xerri, Fr Rafel Borg, Fr Gigi Sapiano, Fr Edwin Pace, Fr Vince Micallef and Br. Tonin Baldacchino. Other friars like Guido Schembri, Frank Borg, Charles Tabone, and Frans Micallef spent short periods to help their companions in some way or other. Fr Angelo Mamo in his series of articles called Mixja li se tibqa’ Sejra! (A Mission Bound to Continue!) says that apart from their pastoral work in the various and numerous parishes, the Maltese Dominicans were constantly asked by the bishops to help on a diocesan level in the seminaries, participating in Bishops’ Conferences, Religious Conferences, Youths Movements, Communications Media and the many social movements concerned with the social injustice in Brazil. Fr Dominic Ebejer became titular bishop of União da Vitoria, Fr John Xerri served for several years as President of the Commission of Human Rights of the Dominicans in Latin America and Fr Gino Sapiano together with Fr Vince Fenech were successively chosen as Provincials of the newly created Province of the The installation of the Dominicans in Curitiba, the capital of Parana, had its pastoral advantages. Their parish was in the periphery of the capital, considered as a favela, a very violent district with the majority of the parishioners very poor. It was not easy at all for the Bishop at that time to find someone ready to accept to live in this district, so dangerous and difficult. The area around was a zone of marshes with no drainage system, the sewage exposed in the open air. On top of all this, a noisy train passed regularly through the middle of the district, day and night. The parish church was a simple large hut previously used as a stable for horses, and the parish house, an old worn-out wooden house. Fr Rafel Cini was the first Parish Priest installed in this parish. Chapter 29.13 ____________ THE DOMINICANS (OP)
  • 182. 184 The Americas Having this direct contact with these poor and destitute people was surely a witness of the Gospel. Here, the Dominicans meant to make this parishA Centre for the Pastoral Formation of the Dominicans of Parana and later of the whole of Brazil. A Seminary was built to foster vocations for the Dominican Order. The newly admitted novices were sent to study with students of other Orders in Curitiba, but they returned to the Convent for their spiritual formation.After a time Dominicans from other areas of Brazil started sending their students to this Seminary, now the Rector responsible being Fr Dominic Ebejer, eventually Bishop of União de Vitoria. In this parish a Cloistered Monastery, known as Sion grew up. Later the Maltese Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart built their own House here, as did the Dominican Sisters of Holy Imelda. Being a periphery of a large city, families which had no house of their own occupied large unused areas of land and built their own huts on it. Not surprisingly the great landowners objected and pressed on the local authorities to expel these families from their shanty houses. It was the friars who stood up for these emarginated families in the name of the Church. Probably, most of them had already been expelled from their farmsteads by other powerful landowners. The Maltese Dominicans also took upon themselves to build a School of Theology for the Laity which soon received lay students and even nuns from other areas in Parana. The last Maltese Dominican to serve in this parish was Fr Konstantin Mamo u Fr Pietru Bonnici Meeting with BishopWalter Ebejer. Fr . Reginald Borg Fr Kostantin Mamo Fr. G:wann Xerri Fr. An;lu Mamo Fr. Vincent Micallef O.P. Br Anton Baldacchino O.P Fr. Olaf Cini,Fr. Tonoin Grech, Fr. Marcolin Camilleri, Fr. An;lu Mamo, Fr. Dumink Ebejer, Fr. Gejtanu Xerri u Fr. Iznard Farrugia Denis Cuschieri, Costantine Fsadni, Tumas Zammit, Isnard Farrugia, Olaf Cini, Dominic Ebejer, Angelo Mamo Br Dominic Farrugia, Fr. Tonin Grech, Fr. Dumink Ebejer, Fr. Markolin Camilleriu Fr. Dennis Cuschieri
  • 183. 185 Brazil Brother Anton. Of his 50 years as a religious brother, he spent 25 in Brazil. He served the community by visiting families to lend a hand and give advice. He had seen the parish grow and develop into three parishes. As the administrator of the house, he was involved too in the social work of the parish. Every month, with the help of a group of members of the Legion of Mary, he distributed food to poor families. The parish the Dominicans left behind had 30,000 parishioners, of whom 1500 families gave a monthly tithe to the parish. AsawitnesstothegoodworkdonebytheMalteseDominicans, Fr Marcello, a Brazilian Dominican, writes: “I was brought up with the Maltese friars. I learnt a lot from Fr John Xerri, Fr Angelo, Fr Vicente and Brother Anton who was the last to leave. The Maltese did a marvellous work in Goias. These Dominican Fathers created other parishes in Sao Martins, Matinhos, Londrina, Ponta Grossa, União da Vitoria and Sao Paulo. They worked hard in this parish for 25 years, and the impression they left is lasting. I was mostly impressed by their option for the poor who were cared for individually and as a community. Fr Vincent and Fr John impressed me with their spirituality. Unfortunately today despite the teachings of Vatican II the Church in Brazil is being more introspective rather than outward looking. But still Brother Anton for example, who is the administrator of the house, is much loved by the people because he is always present with the poor, and he receives them with love. He is a holy man, a man of prayer. I consider myself very lucky to have lived with him.” Twenty five years ago many people were reluctant to work in that area. The Maltese Dominicans readily accepted the challenge and the mission. Fr Marcello is very proud and happy to inherit this good example given by his predecessors who never feared to stand up for the poor against the powerful authorities. He remembers with satisfaction a Maltese nurse who worked with themfor years, teachingalternativemedicine to the people. He proudly wore the black ring in his finger as a symbol of the poor, saying that “they might have had their Brother Anton Baldachino O.P , Fr Marcello and Fr. Raphael De- martino of Mosta
  • 184. 186 The Americas defects, but the Maltese Dominicans which I came to know here in Curitiba had this special sensibility for the poor.” THREE EXPERIENCES Among the first Dominicans to reach Brazil from Malta was Mgr Walter Michael Ebejer born on 3rd August 1929 in Dingli. The Dominican Order sent him to follow a two year course in Philosophy at Hawkesyard Rugely, Staffordshire, and another two years in Theology at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He was ordained priest in the Dominican Church of Our Lady of the Grotto, Rabat on the 24th of January 1954. He gained the Dominican Academic title of Lector (reader) in Philosophy and Sacred Theology (S. Th. Lect) inAugust 1956. During the time he spent teaching at St Albert the Great College in Malta, he gained by correspondence the Diploma in Languages of the Intermediate Arts Course of the University of London. But all this academic success was overshadowed by a single dream: becoming a missionary at the frontiers of the Church. He started his mission in the remote Diocese of Goias, in the heartland of Brazil, together with another missionary Fr Iznard Farrugia O.P. They were sent further inland to a small village, Itapirapuan, midway to the Araguaia River. They found themselves in a heavily forested region, within the Amazon region, intensively invaded by settlers from Central and North Eastern States. Fr Dominic Ebejer started visiting monthly the several scattered towns and villages on horseback, and later adopted the stronger mule. After three years of this hectic evangelization he and Fr Isnard Farrugia were recalled to the southern State of Parana, in effervescence with the extensive coffee plantations, resulting in a continuous pouring in of migrants. During his eight years in Faxxinal, where he served as parish priest he introduced the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena, built the only secondary school, the St Dominic College, a new spacious Parish church and new missionary Centres in the hinterland. Fr Isnard became parish priest in Borrazopolis, forty kilometres away. When in 1969 Fr Ebejer was chosen to be Vicar of the The calamitous situation of the Bishop’s residence in July 1983, during the foods from the surrounding Rio Iguaçu. The waters invaded about 85% of the town, and took 27 days to recede from the precincts of the building. Bishop Ebejer arrived by motor-boat from higher ground, and is seen examining the harm done by the floods. Numerous church organizations operated community kitchens to serve thousands of pe- ople, and opened churches, halls and available spaces to receive the refugees; and later distributed thousands of pieces of furniture . At the back, the unfinished first block of the future seminary. Newly ordained Bishop Walter M Ebejer, accompanied by his mother Mary Josephine Ebejer, (dressed in red, at his back) visiting the Chapel of Santo Antônio, at a huge saw mill in the parish of Rio Claro do Sul, being warmly welcomed by the local people (mostly of Polish origin). From this Firm, sawed wood (Paraná Wood) was, on occasions, sold to Malta (19/6/1977) Bishop Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P., during his last “Ad Limina” Visit to His Holiness the Pope, Blessed John Paul II. (30th August, 2002). Bishop Ebejer was consecrated bishop on 6th March, 1977, and the new diocese was immediately installed by his Excellency, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carmine Rocco, surrounded by fifteen Archbishops and Bishops. The renunciation of his pastoral office was published on 3rd January, 2007, while continuing as Diocesan Administrator until 30th March, 2007, when his successor, Bishop John Bosco Barbosa de Sousa, OFM, took over as Diocesan Bishop. Maltese Provincial, he moved to the Ponta Grossa Dominican Parish of Santa Rita de Cassia where Fr Rafael Cini O.P. was parish priest. It was a poor parish and both passed long stretches of time in hunger and with other needs.
  • 185. 187 Brazil Fr Dominic was invited by his bishop, Mgr Geraldo Pellanda, a Passionist, to lecture at the new Theology School for Laymen, occasionally at the budding University, and at the Studium Theologicum for seminarians in Curitiba. He also taught Dogmatic Theology for six years until elected bishop. But before becoming bishop, he took over from Fr Angelo Mamo O.P. the new seaside parish of Matinhos dotted with tiny villages of fishermen of Indo-Portuguese stock. He was then transferred to the incipient parish in the poor outskirts of the capital Curitiba where Fr Rafael Cini O.P. was parish priest. Fr Dominic Ebejer O.P. was named Bishop-elect of the new diocese of União de Vitoria by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on the 3rd December 1976. União da Vitoria lies on the southern border of Parana with the State of Santa Catarina about 250 kilometres south of Curitiba. The Papal Nuncio, Mgr Carmine Rocco, surrounded by about fifteen bishops, canonically installed the Diocese in the local football Stadium in the presence of the State Governor, the Dominican confreres, his widowed mother and other relatives from Malta. As the founder of a diocese so remote from important centres, Mgr Ebejer helped to build parish centres and churches. He embarked upon projects for the poor. But what gives the Bishop more satisfaction is the fact that he gave great importance to the formation of the laity and the seminarians, the future priests of the diocese. Today this bishop, in his eighties, still lectures pastoralTheology to permanent deacons, to the seminarians and to the laity. Bishop Walter, as he is now known by his original name, is truly an extraordinary Pastor who believes that the future of the Church lies in a better and ongoing formation. The diocese started with only four diocesan priests and 14 religious of various Congregations, a fair number of major and minor seminarians, and 40 religious sisters. The diocese originally totalled less than 8,000 square kilometres – small by local standards – under-populated and deteriorating socially and religiously. He soon ordained as priests the two deacons he had, started visiting the parishes and their chapels totalling twelve visits every month, preparing for the creation of new parishes. He considers the secret of the diocese’s success the monthly meeting with priests where everything was discussed in such a way that each of them started to feel involved in the running of the diocese. “We managed to create a truly espirito de core in every person,” he told me during a visit. He delegated the more prepared priests and nuns he had at his disposal to multiply the courses and seminars for the formation of the would-be leaders in his diocese. He made it a point too to be personally present at these courses and meetings in the various parishes of the various movements. The shepherd must be near his fold he emphatically says. In January 1980 he started building a Minor Seminary which was inaugurated in 1984 under the name of Rainha das Missoes (Queen of the Missions). An Institute of Philosophy was inaugurated in 1985 and two years later he himself started to teach Theology in the new Instituto de Filosofia e Teologia Santo Alberto Magno (Institute of Philosophy and Theology St Albert the Great). The bishop insisted that all the lecturers be well prepared: all or almost all had already undergone post- graduate studies. As a bishop, he thought that the years as lecturer in the Seminaries would be a thing of the past. But nothing of the sort happened. He was invited to lecture at the Seminary dedicated to Saint Joseph in Ponta Grossa (240km distant). At a later stage, he was invited to lecture at the Seminary of the Archdiocese of Londrina (473km distant). Today the Church in Parana has a good number of professors formed in various disciplines. By so doing, Bishop Ebejer helped in the formation of his seminarians who then frequented seminaries outside of his diocese. In 1985 the Philosophy Course in the Seminary of the diocese was introduced. The course in Theology started in 1987. The professors are local. The diocese has sent up to nine priests to
  • 186. 188 The Americas specialize in Rome and others come from Institutes of Curitiba and Ponta Grossa. The Seminary of Our Lady of the Missions started early to receive seminarians, through scholarships from very distant poorer dioceses of Brazil. About 60 priests from these distant dioceses for the North East, Northern and the Amazon regions of Brazil did their Theology Course and many more the Philosophy Course in União de Vitoria. Social Activities Under the leadership of Bishop Walter Ebejer the diocese of União da Vitoria grew from 12 parishes and about 300 dependent Chapel Communities to 25 parishes and more than 420 Chapel Communities. The diocesan priests in the diocese have increased from four to twenty-six and the religious from fourteen to sixteen. The female religious have increased only slightly. It has 18 seminarians studying philosophy and Theology, 12 permanent deacons and the School for Permanent Deacons has the same number of candidates. The extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and Catechists are in their thousands. Lay leaders are numerous in all sectors. On the social side the Bishop helped to found the first six free rural syndicates (Unions) in the region and carried out an intense two years´ campaign against the evil of rural exodus and in favour of modern agriculture. During the devastating floods of 1983, 80 per cent of the urban properties in União de Vitoria were submerged during four weeks of heavy rains. The Church organised community kitchens in various high spots, distributing about four thousand free meals daily and opening churches and church buildings to house hundreds of refugees and helped organise the farmers whose farmland was to be compensated (cheaply and forcibly) by the State so as to build a huge water reservoir to produce electricity. Finally the Bishop led a consistent campaign imparting Catholic social and political doctrine to successive groups of lay persons. Inh