Only a few months after the death of our mourned brother Cardinal Prospero Grech, the Pope has graciously given the Church on our Islands a new Cardinal, Mgr. Mario Grech, Emeritus Bishop of the Gozo Diocese and Secretary of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.

In a message posted on social media, Bishop Grech thanked the Augustinian Family, and particularly the Prior General and the Community of the Order’s Curia in Rome where he has been residing over the past year and where he was hosted every time that he visited Rome during his episcopate.  In fact, in 2017 Bishop Grech was officially affiliated with our Augustinian Family, and thus he is regarded as being a son of the Order through a spiritual bond.

Bishop Grech was born at Qala, Gozo on 20th February 1957. He was educated in state schools followed by studies in Philosophy and Theology at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Seminary, Gozo. After his Priestly Ordination on 26th May 1984 he continued his studies in Rome where he obtained a Licentiate from the Pontifical Lateran University and a Doctorate in Canonical Law from the Pontifical Angelicum University.

Back in Malta he served in various posts including that of Judicial Vicar of the Gozitan Diocese; lecturer in Canonical Law at the Gozo Seminary, member of the Metropolitan Tribunal of Malta and Parish Priest at the Kercem Parish. On 26th November 2011 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Bishop of Gozo in which post he served until Pope Francis appointed him Pro-Secretary of the Synod of Bishops and, on 15th September 2020, Secretary of that same Synod.

The Augustinian Malta Province congratulates Mgr. Mario Grech on his appointment as a Cardinal and thanks him for having been close to them, and wishes him well in his service to the Universal Church.

On Saturday 24 October 2020 a new lighting system for the dome of St. Augustine’s Parish, Valletta was inaugurated. In collaboration with the project for the regeneration of the port of Marsamxett and the GHRC, on the same day a new lighting system was also inaugurated for the dome of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Basilica and for the Madonna tal-Pillar Church.

This is part of a larger project of restoration and regeneration of our convent in Valletta which has been in progress for some years. In fact, some weeks ago the temporary protective covering to the church’s façade was removed and last week part of the covering to the side of the church on St. John Street was also removed. Apart from a project for the restoration of the interior of the church, the intention is for the restoration to extend also to the entire block that abuts on four roads.

Normally, during the month of October, the Provincial Commission for Lay Augustinians holds its first meeting after summer. Unfortunately, this year, due to the pandemic, it is not possible for us to meet as we usually do.

So as to keep contact with you, we thought of organising a Mass online. This was transmitted on the Facebook page of the Malta Augustinians. We thank Fr. Terence Spiteri osa and Mr Mario Randon who made this transmission possible. The Mass was celebrated by Provincial Fr. Leslie Gatt osa together with Fr. Franco Grech osa at the St. Augustine College Pieta. Present were the members of the Provincial Commission for Lay Augustinians who participated in its animation.

The date 13 October is a dear one as, on that day, the Augustinian Order remembers all the Order’s deceased benefactors throughout the world. Here in Malta and Gozo, the Augustinians always found generous persons who help spiritually and materially so that the Friars could maintain their presence, and to able to render a pastoral service to God’s people.

Many of us, who are ever close to the Augustinian Friars, had relatives who were benefactors of the Augustinian communities in our country or abroad …. such as in missionary countries. This online Mass gave an opportunity, to those who were unable to be present in any Augustinian church, to join in offering the sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of the souls of these benefactors, so that God gives them the grace of being close to Him in eternity and, if they are already in his presence face-to-face, to pray for us so that we will learn from them to be generous in our service to the Order and to the Church, especially during these difficult times of the pandemic which we are all experiencing.

Whilst keeping one another in our prayers, take care so that, God willing, we will resume meeting together before long.

Members of the Provincial Commission for Lay Augustinians

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By means of a message to the Province, the Provincial advised that the Prior General had given the Malta Augustinian Province dispensation from holding its Intermediate Provincial Assembly for 2020. This was scheduled to be held on 27, 28 & 29 October at the St. Nicholas hall, Tarxien, always subject to the limitations imposed by the pandemic Covid 19. This after the Assembly had been postponed from the original date last April. Nonetheless, considering the circumstances, it was felt imprudent for all the friars from different convents to get together for three days of discussion.

The Provincial Assembly comprises a series of meetings and discussions that are usually held two years after the Ordinary Provincial Chapter with the aim that, in a fraternal environment, an evaluation is carried out of the Province’s work during the previous two years. This also gives an opportunity for consideration to be given, in light of present realities, to how our life and our other initiatives can be made more effective particularly in regard to the programme set out in the previous Ordinary Provincial Chapter.

Meanwhile, during the past few days, the Province held meetings in the Province’s six communities during which was presented material that was intended to raise discussion during the Assembly. Amongst these was an evaluation of the Province by the Provincial as well as of the Provincial Council that should act as the starting point so that, during the coming months, a reflection will be carried out.

It has been the wish of the Augustinian Laity Commission to establish in Malta an Augustinian Secular Fraternity. To this end, a commission was set up to look into this possibility; to formulate a statute and to prepare a programme for the formation of those lay persons interested in forming part of this Fraternity.

Lay Augustinian Fraternities within the Augustinian order comprise Catholics, men and women worldwide, and in the epicentre of the Church. “One heart and one soul in God”, they live their vocation together stemming from their baptism, committed to share their Christian calling for holiness from an Augustinian perspective, with a special bond with the Augustinian Order.

It is worth mentioning here that the Augustinian Order from its early days welcomed a number of lay persons who, whilst still living a normal life in this world, became an integral part of the Order’s mission by drinking from the same source of spirituality based on the lasting principles of the Rule of St. Augustine and of the secular traditions of the Order, in pursuance of its charism of serving the Church.

The principal aim of these Fraternities is that, as brethren, they recognise and live the sacrament of baptism in this world from a perspective of spirituality and an Augustinian tradition. These brethren meet so as to share between themselves their faith and friendship. Faith is a great God-given gift; friendship is the most precious thing that one can give to another. A lay Augustinian Fraternity is set up officially by decree issued by the Prior

General of the Augustinian Order. Thus, members of a Fraternity become an integral part of the Augustinian Family as Tertiary Augustinians or as Lay Augustinians.

With the grace of God there are ten persons who have shown interest in being members of this Fraternity; amongst these three married couples. Therefore, on Monday, 19 October 2020, the eve of the feast of the martyr St. Madelene of Nagasaki, a tertiary Augustinian, the first meeting was held for these lay persons. In view of the precautions necessary due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was decided to hold this meeting online.

Present at this meeting were Prior Provincial Fr Leslie Gatt and the Spiritual Director of the Augustinian Provincial Lay Commission, Fr. Franco Grech. During this meeting, the Provincial spoke about the laity’s role in the Church. Fr. Gatt also said that this Lay Augustinian Fraternity will be at a Provincial level and will not be associated with any particular single community of Augustinian religious. Its base will be the St. Rita convent, St. Julians.

Those lay persons interested in forming part of this Fraternity will be meeting monthly so as to foster together a spirit of fraternity and in their faith and in Augustinian fraternity.

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