On Sunday 8th January 2023, solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, Fr. Francis Calleja OSA celebrated a thanksgiving mass in the Parish Church of Saint Nicholas in Siġġiewi, thanking the Lord for 50 years of priestly ministry. Several Augustinian friars, priests and members of his family joined him in the eucharistic celebration.

Fr Francis was actually born in Siġġiewi on  December 30, 1948. From an early age he attended Saint Augustine College, at that time in Tarxien. In 1964 he began his novitiate in the Augustinian Family and on October 3, 1965 he made his first Profession of Religious Vows. Later he was sent to continue his studies at the Patristic Institute in Rome and on January 9, 1972 he then made his Solemn Profession. On December 17, 1972 he was ordained a priest in St. John’s Co-Cathedral, together with several other Augustinian Friars.

As a religious here in Malta he served, among other things, as responsible for the formation of new candidates for religious life in the Priory of Saint Rita in Saint Julians. For many years he served in Augustinian communities in Italy, namely in Pisa, Cascia, Pisa, Gela and Palermo where he still lives and serves as a prior.

The Augustinian Province wishes Fr  Francis much more strength and joy in the Lord. Thank you Fr. Francis. 

Ad Multos Annos.

On Saturday 7th January 2023, Fr. Mark Cauchi celebrated a Thanksgiving mass in the Church of Saint Augustine in Valletta, together with the Augustinian Community, through which he thanked God for 70 years of priestly ministry. Fr. Mark who is 94 years old, has been for the last 20 years a member of the Augustinian Community of Valletta.

Fr. Mark was born in Cospicua on  July 5, 1928 and joined the Augustinian family on January 20,  1946 when he began his novitiate at Augustinian Priory of, Victoria in Gozo. A year later, exactly on January 26, 1947 (76 years ago) he made the Simple Profession of the Evangelical Vows in the Order of Saint Augustine. He then continued the study of Philosophy and Theology at San Mark College in Rabat Malta and on February 5, 1950 he made his Solemn Profession. He was then ordained a priest on December 20, 1952 in St. John Co-Cathedral in Valletta.

As a religious and priest he served in several communities in Malta and was also a teacher of Latin and French at Saint Augustine College, and chaplain of the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Valletta. Abroad, he worked in the Augustinian missions in North Africa and in Sicily. Over the years he always had a great love for History, research and writing, so much so that he wrote several articles and even published several books.

The Augustinian Province wishes Fr. Mark much more health and joy in the Lord. Thank you Fr. Mark.

Ad Multos Annos.

On Wednesday 28th December the Augustinian Friars gathered for their annual Christmas Lunch. This year the Augustinian Community of Rabat welcomed and offered the lunch for all the province. It was a beautiful experience sharing some time together!

The Maltese Augustinian Province joins the Church in its sorrow for the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: faithful pastor; thinker; scholar and great admirer of our Holy Father Saint Augustine.

Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927, in the German city of Bavaria. He served the Church in various roles as priest, lecturer, bishop, cardinal and later Pope. Shortly before his appointment as Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had taken part in the pilgrimage with the remains of Saint Augustine in Rome. On Sunday 14 November 2004 he actually accompanied the pilgrimage to the city of Ostia, where he presided over the Solemn Eucharist in the Augustinian Church of Saint Aurea.

Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope in a conclave called after the death of the late Saint John Paul II in April 2005 and took the name of Benedict XVI. During the years he served as pastor of the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI showed his great admiration for Saint Augustine by often quoting his teachings. Several times he also reflected on his life in the catechesis of the Audiences on Wednesdays, and in homilies or documents he published.

On the 22nd April 2007 then as Pope, he made a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of Saint Augustine venerated in the Augustinian Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro in Pavia.

In June 2007, Pope Benedict canonized the first Maltese saint, St. George Preca, in a celebration held in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City. Between the 17th and 18th April 2010, Pope Benedict made a short but intense visit to Malta. This was actually the third visit of a Pope to our islands, blessed by the Apostle of the gentiles.

On 6th January 2012 Pope Benedict had announced the creation of our brother Prospero Grech O.S.A. as a cardinal in appreciation for his work and great contribution to the Church over the years. His creation was actually then made on 18th February 2012.

When his health began to decline, Pope Benedict felt he had to retire to a life devoted more to prayer and silence. He thus resigned on the 28th February 2013 and for almost 10 years he lived in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican City.

Pope Benedict XVI passed to eternal life today 31st December 2022. The Maltese Augustinian Province pays tribute to the memory of a faithful shepherd, and recommends his soul in our prayers.

Once again we are celebrating the mystery of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This celebration opens every year a new liturgical journey with an invitation to prepare ourselves not only to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but moreover to welcome him into our lives. This is actually not a new experience for us but it finds us every year in different circumstances and realities. The central invitation remains that of seeing how Jesus can give us an experience that touches our hearts and breeds serenity and hope in the journey of life.

The times we are living are undoubtedly moments of continuous change, which we do not always manage to keep up with. For us as a Church, the most important mission remains that of bearing witness to Jesus, and thus we should never give up on promoting life, working for justice, supporting those who are burdened, offering meaning to those who feel lost, and above all spreading genuine joy. This is how we make sure that everything we do really gives birth to Jesus even if it requires an effort from us. The birth of Jesus was never a comfortable one. Not even when it happened in the cave of Bethlehem! On that day the family of Mary and Joseph felt unwelcome; then they had to accept the poor whereabouts of an animal cave; then they had to satisfy themselves with very little; but the most important thing was the fact that Jesus was born!

This said, we are continuously summoned to embark in a process of discernment leading to Jesus being born in our hearts. Then we also want to make sure that, even though we sometimes feel like we are becoming fewer, and time is changing us rapidly, we continue to be in one way or another a presence that makes a difference in our society both on a personal level but also as a collective witness, as Augustinians and as a Church.

In his catechesis  in the last weeks, Pope Francis is talking about discernment. In the Audience of the 19th October 2022, the Pope refers to the experience of Saint Augustine and talks about one’s personal story in the course of choices one is compelled to make in life. "Saint Augustine, a great seeker of the truth," - Pope Francis tells us - understood that sometimes we find ourselves searching in wrong paths when he decided to "reread his life, noting in it the silent and discreet, but incisive, steps of the presence of the Lord. At the end of this journey, he noted with wonder: “You were within, and I without, and there I did seek you; I, unlovely, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty you made. You were with me, but I was not with you” (Confessions  X, 27.38). Hence his invitation to cultivate the inner life to find what one is seeking: “Return within yourself. In the inward man dwells truth”(cf. On True Religion, XXXIX, 72). This is an invitation I would extend to all of you, and even to myself: “Return within yourself. Read your life. Read yourself within, how your journey has been... With serenity. Return within yourself”.

All of our stories together make up a much bigger story; Our Story! I would like to wish from the bottom of my heart that this Christmas brings with it an invite to each and everyone of us to look at his own story and seek to open up more and more in the new year to a genuine journey of discernment. May this journey keeps Jesus always in the center thus giving meaning to everything we are and to what we do. It is only in this way that in the face of the  challenges and the signs of the times I am convinced that Jesus will continue to be born for us, and through us he will continue to be born in the hearts of others.

Fr. Leslie Gatt osa

Prior Provincial

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