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St Joseph’s Home Mission Statement

It is our mission at St Joseph’s Home to reflect God’s love for others by caring for children in need, providing them with a home when they lack one, and by serving as mentors and educators to them and their families. This we hope to do by giving the children our love and care, our presence and professional support And by guiding them to find their path in life At their own pace.

St Joseph’s Home was founded in 1888 by Mgr. Francesco Bonnici. This year it celebrates its 125th Anniversary. In 1922 the Servant of God, Mgr. Joseph De Piro and the Missionary Society of St Paul were entrusted with the running of the Home. To date it has always been a home for boys from disadvantaged situations. It can take up to eighteen children in three apartments.


It is 125 years since St. Joseph’s Home, through the vision of Mgr. Frangisk Bonnici, picked up the first boys off the streets. Since 1888, it has always remained a children’s Home, at times harbouring up to 200 children at one go. As in many other occasions when it faced adversity, shortages, and lack of hope the Home finds itself in the centre of ongoing debates about children’s welfare and needs in our country. The recent National Conference on Children in Care (Nov 2012), held under the auspices of the Commissioner for Children and ably led by Dr. Angela Abela and her team of researchers presented extensive studies about the subject. It put in black on white the dilemmas children’s homes face on a local level. This research highlights some of the factors which make institutional settings like ours the least preferred option when it comes to out of home care for children. Crudely and simply put, children thrive less than others when they are placed in children’s homes, particularly in the early years. Beyond the studies, there are a lot of factors which tend to paint children’s homes with a tarnished brush. • For St. Joseph’s Home in particular, the trauma and stain of abuse of children has left a deep gash in the psyche of the Home. For some, the place is associated with abuse. • Increasing costs. With members of religious orders dwindling, costs are not simply increasing, they are multiplying. The witness of selfless love of so many nuns and priests for so many years, is


inevitably giving way to professionally trained care-workers and other professionals in the field. For some homes, this will be a cost too high to pay. • Higher risks: whilst we are hardly surprised by difficult or deviant behaviours, homes increasingly face tougher cases of children who have been so damaged and hurt that they need increasingly sophisticated and multi-disciplinary interventions. Not many Homes can boast of the level of resources such children need. This is a dilemma also often faced by brave foster parents who foster the more challenging children. It thus also becomes harder to find dedicated and well-trained staff for such children. • The advent of fostering. Desperately needed, and very welcome as a family based alternative to homes, fostering is slowly finding itself as the main policy orientation for lawmakers and stakeholders alike. In the light of the above mentioned conference this makes sense, though at times official pronouncements tend to demonise children’s homes excessively as the alternative to fostering. Given the above, it seems logical to conclude that children’s homes such as St. Joseph’s, are on the slippery slope to nowhere. However, our experience at St. Joseph’s Home, seems to defy this conclusion. • In spite of all that has been said in recent years, children’s homes in Malta are still largely supported by the general public. The general public seem to understand that the Homes still largely provide the only and last port of call in times of distress for families or the state, who are struggling with major issues of violence, neglect, and trauma. • There is still demand for the services offered by the Homes.


With regular waiting lists for children to be placed in care settings, like St. Joseph’s, it is still largely inconceivable to imagine the out of home care setting in Malta to exist without the traditional homes as part of the solution. The experience of European countries, which abolished homes only to realise too late that some children were left with nowhere to go, could help us here in Malta to stave off such a scenario. Luckily, most stakeholders seem to understand that for a small minority of children, all other options, including fostering will not be enough, and that homes can offer something different. • Finally, in spite of all the limitations of institutionalisation, there are also some advantages. Some children thrive in socialising with other children. In the case of St. Joseph’s Home, the massive building also offers options few small households have: a gym, study areas, football pitches, large rooms for meetings etc. For some children with acute problems the sheer number of spaces of the place, particularly the newly refurbished Independent Living area in the Home, offer an alternative to small housing units, or other more confined institutional settings. One hundred and twenty five years since its opening, the Home finds itself at its usual crossroads. Simply put, you do not keep a home open for nostalgic reasons. On the other hand, you do not throw away 125 years of history, with thousands of lives touched and blessed, because of dark chapters and horrible tragedies along the way. The choice for us at St. Joseph’s Home remains clear: it stems from the gospel imperative to take care of children: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” [Mark 9:37] As we present to you the 2013 annual of the Home, with the different pictures of the major happenings at St Joseph’s, we cling to the firm belief that we are truly making a difference. In the words of the Jewish Talmud, immortalised in the movie “Schindler’s List”: Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire”.

Fr Frankie Cini mssp Director


c 1930. The Servant of God, Joseph De Piro with the band of the Home. Children were encouraged to participate in trades, training and activities such as music. The band of the Home was very popular during its time. Pre 1916. A frère at prayer in a chapel before the chapel of the Home was built in 1916. The space was then converted into a large dormitory, and in 2012 remade into a study area for the children of the Home.

1955. A group of boys, all in uniform, photographed in the courtyard of the Home. This era was marked by a large increase in the boys at the Home.

Since the 1920’s St. Joseph’s Home developed around 8 trades, including carpentry, bookbinding, and printing. At a time when schooling was not mandatory, these workshops provided opportunities for the boys to leave the home ready for the world of work.


Large spaces, big heart. The Home remains a huge building... but over the years it has been transformed into a cosy family space for the residents. Here two boys find their way through the corridors of the Home. Christmas at the Home, early 1960. Large dormitories were the norm, with the population of the Home at it highest in the post World War II period.

Sheer numbers meant different systems: rows of sinks in corners of the Home in the 1950’s were just one of the features which showed how the Home catered for big numbers. For many children, being in a Home was always difficult, yet it was still a way out of poverty.

2009: a trek in the countryside with the boys. Social, and recreational activities still feature highly for the boys at the Home, albeit having much less time due to an increased emphasis on education and training. The odd day out together is always a highlight.


Oħloq Tbissima is a truly joyful event: the heart of it is the smile of those that are part of it. The joy in this is the human bridge we create from Malta to Peru, Pakistan and the Philippines. Inspired by one common faith with a New Evangelisation, a generous dose of goodwill and a commitment to make a difference, I have felt in all these years the vibrant energy of good and generous volunteers, the enthusiasm of a TV 60-hour programme brimming with thrilling missionary footage; a world panorama which brings to home the reality of different projects. Looking back I only see a good experience of celebrating one human family. Looking through I can see the many projects and so many poor families that were helped and whose life were changed. Looking from a little distance I only see God’s providence and blessing. We only did our humble little part and the rest was providence and blessings which shaped our graceful life in such a different good way. Fr Louis Mallia mssp .

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When Fr. Louis Mallia mssp, with a team of lay people led by Marthese Brincat launched the first edition of the transmitted, Oħloq Tbissima, no one saw beyond the first year. The enthusiasm generated by the event, with people donating for MSSP missions abroad and for St. Joseph’s Home, took everyone by surprise. In 2012, Maratona Oħloq Tbissima celebrated 10 years of endeavour, in making a tangible difference to its beneficiaries. The Marathon stemmed from the core-mission of Ċentru Animazzjoni Missjunarja within the precints of the Home: its media branch (ĊPi, ĊAM productions international) the organisers of the marathon, produces weekly programmes of a religious and social nature on local television stations. The original idea was to create an open air studio

for live transmission for sixty hours. Over the years, new ideas were added but the core structure of the Maratona has been retained. It all happens in the welcoming courtyard of St. Joseph’s Home. A large group of volunteers man the technical aspects of the production, help on stage, in the kitchen, in the telephone area, and take care of the logisticis of hosting large crowds for the three evenings and the whole 60 hours of the event. With activities ranging from family entertainment programmes, to moments of prayers during the night transmissions, the Marathon is also a showcase of missionary activity that is done in Peru, Pakistan and the Phillipines and the work being done with the children at the Home.


Oħloq Tbissima is a celebration of 9 months of hard work by Cam Productions. . It has always been, the most beautiful event where so many generous people give their time, their knowledge, their money but most of all their love for the MSSP missions here and abroad. I feel so . privilaged that I am given this opportunity to do something for others. . Marthese Brincat .

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Over the past ten years Maratona Oħloq Tbissima has contributed around €340,000 to St. Joseph’s Home, making it by far the largest single donor to the Home each year. However, beyond the financial help, Maratona Oħloq Tbissima provides the Maltese viewing public and those who visit the Home on the days of the Marathon with a unique insider’s view of what happens in a children’s home

on a daily basis. Featuring the annual projects of the Home, the Marathon also delves into the simple daily routines of the children’s lives, their hopes and disappointments and their aspirations beyond their time at the Home. Entering into its second decade in 2013, Oħloq Tbissima will help the Home celebrate its one hundred and twenty fifth birthday.


The trip to Malta by the USA ICPE Mission Youth Ministry in June/ July 2012 marked a first for the Home. We opened our doors to a group of 10 young people from Oregon and their leaders so they could be with the children, assist the Home in its tasks, and discover Malta. With a combination of voluntary work, manual labour, and fun activities, the group led by Pat and Mark Dol, Karol and Karolina Fromont, Janna Adams, and Kelly Campbell Alley teamed up with the staff of the Home in preparation for the opening of the Independent Living Project on the 29th June. Getting young adoloscents to scrub tiles, clean paint, and wash a large new apartment for the official opening took up most of the first week’s activities, whilst the kids at the Home finished their annual exams. Following the opening, which included a brief meeting of the group with H.E. Mgr Paul Cremona O.P. , Archbishop of Malta, the group then started to interact more with the boys of the Home. Their enthusiastic attempt to teach the boys baseball, were met by equally enthusiastic attempts by the residents of the Home to teach the Americans how to play football. The visit, was also marked by moments of prayer, in some of the Christian sites around Malta, notably the Grotto of St. Paul in Rabat and Ta’ Pinu in Gozo.


On this trip, the thing that changed me the most were the boys at the home. The ones that I got to spend time with had a great impact on my life. I could really see Jesus at work here. I was taught more about myself and my faith through these kids and for this experience I am very grateful.

Abe Smith The thing I learned the most from this mission trip was to be thankful not only for the big things in life but also for the little things that very often we tend to miss. Seeing how the boys would get so happy and excited over just the simple things really touched me.

Morgan Alley We shared with the children very simple things and just to see how much joy these little things brought to their lives made me think and reect in a new way. I see it this way, we did not change their lives but they changed ours.

Colin Campbell It has been a great three weeks. I know that this time has changed our lives, and that we marked in a positive way the lives of the boys of the home.

Mark Doll


During the trip I learned what helping is really all about. It’s not about what you materially get back but what you spiritually give. I can remember many many smiles from the different people we met and these smiles have lifted up my heart.

Grace Peters This trip to Malta changed me in a new way. I was able to spend time with these boys from the Home who have had difficult lives and accepting them for who they are.

Jacob Adams

I grew up in Malta and it was strange being in Malta and not seeing my immediate family. One thing that touched me the most was to see how my friends were connecting so well with the boys at the Home and how it all turned out to become a truly awesome time together. Will treasure this experience for a lifetime.

Joshua Dol I’m not the same person that left home on the 18th of June 2012. This trip has helped me to gain some focus about what I went through this past year and what I’m going through now. I feel more confident and more ready to go on in life fighting the good fight and being a good example to those around me. Spiritually I’ve felt stronger in the last 3 weeks than I have in a while. Also, now I know how to really mop a floor!

Becca Bentz


When announced a couple of years

back, many thought the Independent Living project as some grand idea. In the latter months of 2012, as curtains were put in place to finalize the works on the Project, we realized what a mammoth task this has been for a Home like St. Joseph’s.

Two years in the making, the pro-

ject involved hundreds of volunteers, a score of major companies, and a small group of very dedicated team members both from within and outside the Home. The project essentially consisted in stripping bare a wing built originally in 1934. This

was restructured internally into two brand new apartments: one for children who have to stay at the Home during weekends, and another for the older boys of the Home.

Internally works were marshalled by

Mr. Dominic Lewis, Project Manager, seconded to the Home by HSBC for the last seven years, and Pawlu Bartolo and his sons Michael and Franco. The plans were drawn up by architect Chris Mintoff. A small team of entrepreneurs led by James Busuttil, Fiona Caruana Carabez and David Borg amongst others organized themselves with a group


of others in order to seek funding, sponsorships and donations in kind. Funds for the project were raised by this dedicated team of professionals from the business sector, who set up fundraising events for the project.

Many other companies contributed

via contributions in kind with material and labour. Vassallo Builders cleared the space during Social Corporate Responsibility Day in 2011, whilst HSBC staff gave the final coats

to the same project a year later in 2012. Many other companies (BOV, Mediterranean Bank, Vodafone, Go, Actavis, Mazaar, Prohealth, MamoTCV, amongs others) sent staff for half days of work within the project or helped with fundraising events. Other groups such as Miskan, ÄŠAMYouths, MCAST students, Light of Christ Community, and various schools also helped us out. In the last phase, the Housing Authority also proved to be of invaluable assis-


tance to the project by providing a grant to help us finish off the project.

T

he Independent Living project signals a leap in quality for institutional care settings in Malta: tasteful and pleasing, it makes sure that the young adults living at the Home, start preparing seriously for life beyond institutions, with facilities for self help, kitchen, and laundry, all oriented towards independent living. The project was inaugurated on June 29th by H.E. Paul Cremona, Archbishop of Malta. The first group of 5 young men moved into the new premises in September 2012. The unit houses up to 8 young people when at full capacity and it is hoped that as soon as the first

group settles, more of the boys at the Home will come to benefit from the services this new approach to care within the Home offers to the residents of St.Joseph’s.

The

experience of the first few months is that whilst stones and curtains are not everything, the physical surroundings do help the boys to feel at home in a safe place.

The pride of the residents themselves

in keeping the place well maintained is in itself the first positive certificate that the Independent Living Project was not just about makeovers, but about giving young residents in care something to feel good about.


When Jugs and Friends first happened at our Home in 2010, we thought it was a one-off occasion

of events spread over two days on the 28th November and 1st December. This time the event focused on more than one task. The main thrust of the project was the construction of six new study rooms which would help the boys in their after-school studies. Essentially, this venture complimented the major ed-

During that year, the furniture of 10 bedrooms was changed by about 20 participating companies. We thought it was a one-off beautiful occasion, but Jugs were back in 2012, bigger, and better! Harnessing the increasing corporate awareness in local and locallybased companies, Jugs and Friends 2012 came armed with a theme: “Appetite4Learning� and programme

ucational initiative launched in 2011 through which each boy in the Home is guaranteed 3 hours of personalised tuition per week apart from the usual school homework. This initiative is co-sponsored by Island Hotel Group, HSBC Foundation and Vodafone Foundation. Jugs and Friends 2012 gave us spanking new rooms for this


project to be taken to the next level. The project entailed the design, construction of room walls, and all other services in preparation for the main event. Most of this initial work was done by the staff of the Home, with plans drawn up by Architect Abigail Lewis. The constant enthusiasm of Josef Gafa and Lisa Martins for this project ensured we stayed on track. As the first day of the event approached, furniture, flooring, and paint started to arrive. On Wednesday 28th the first batch of 20 companies came over, prepared the flooring and covered it for

the afternoon session of painting. At the same time, another group of companies “attacked� the other two flats where the boys live. Kitchens were dismantled and fresh paint applied in preparation for new furniture. The event of the 28th ended with a high tea for all the employees of the participating companies provided by Island Caterers. Saturday 1st December was more than a repeat: a hundred and twenty volunteers assembled furniture, painted art works , whilst other groups took over the kitchen of the Home to bake cookies; others sprayed


old furniture, yet others applied the finishing touches and little details in preparation for the Christmas season. The living rooms of two flats were hardly recognisable by the end of the activity. Jugs and Friends 2012 left us with 6 new rooms for studing, and two new kitchens and living rooms. More than the actual works however, these moments hold a special significance for the Home and its residents for various reasons. Such moments bring outsiders into the Home. Our usual reticence to give boys their privacy, gives way to open doors on such days where people from major brands in Malta come and actually have a feel of what a

children’s home looks like. Some are stunned by the size of the building, others amazed that little nests of care have been created within the Home. Others ask questions and clear misconceptions and myths about homes, the kids who live in them, and the people who work with them. . Jugs and Friends taps into this corporate movement towards social solidarity and finds opportunies for people to help places like St. Joseph’s. Whilst Jugs and Friends 2012 leaves us with the the smell of fresh paint and colourful curtains and new spaces for the boys, what lingers on is the sense that the children of the Home are no longer invisible to our society.


St. Joseph’s Home accepts groups of volunteers to help out at the Home. We accept groups from companies or organisations, for corporate social responsibility intiatives, youth, pastoral or social groups, schools, and groups of individuals. The Home also accepts groups or teams who would like to use the premises for teambuilding or group building activities. Premises include 8 seminar rooms and a large hall hosting up to 120 people, a large courtyard and play areas for children.


Part of the formation programme that we MSSP brothers go through includes a stint in a pastoral ministry, in Malta and abroad. I had the privilege and opportunity to work at St Joseph’s Home. I would like to share with you, readers of this annual, what this has meant to me, and the paradigm shifts I have had to make to truly enter into this experience.

work, preparing the kids for school or an outing, or simply listening to the boys’ stories and troubles, I came to realise that there is one gift that I can always share: myself. I realised that even if I have nothing, even if I excel in nothing, I still can offer something quite remarkable – my being there with each one of the boys and attending to their cries, frustrations and unique situations.

I started the experience with a mind full of aspirations and ideals that I can give the boys something, believing that my studies and the resources available to me would help these children in achieving the best from life. Even my wishes of passing to them my spirituality, being in full knowledge of how helpful it could be, was continuously challenged and cut down to size.

I came to the stark realisation that the greatest happiness and value given to these unique persons with their personal stories, is the conviction that they are loved – loved for themselves, or rather, loved in spite of themselves. And this realisation is not only valuable and helpful in dealing with our boys but perhaps with every individual around us.

Eventually I started to come to the awareness, that for these boys, my sheer presence was appreciated more than anything I could produce or give to them. I realised that all that mattered for the boys was that I was there, that I could be counted on, that there was someone else they could trust and rely on. Whether it was the ever sought for football match (a game I learned to hate, and am learning to tolerate), toiling through home-

Even if we, as the staff at the Home, sometimes feel we are pursuing a ‘lost hope’, or face daunting or near impossible human tragedies, we are continuously called on by our example, attitude and friendship to awaken in these young men the spirit of love, honesty and growth. My hope is that what I have learnt about through this experience with the boys will help me tap into what many in this Home often discover often: that we are all truly loved.


The original lift at St. Joseph’s Home was installed in 1970. Over the years it started to become increasingly dicult to maintain and keep up to current standards. Our request to l-Istrina for help in 2010 was approved and work was undertaken in early 2012 and finished by April. The works involved substantial structural changes so that the new installation could be wheelchair friendly and more spacious. Thanks to the generosity of the general public through l-Istrina, this this needed and important project could be fulfilled.


New Choral Singers The 2012 Christmas season always brings about good cheer. For us at the Home, this year’s voices of Christmas were made more joyful with the contribution of two choirs. The New Choral Singers led by Robert Calleja held three Christmas concerts in Siggiewi, Swatar, and Għargur. The proceeds from these concerts were for our Home.

Animae Gospel Choir held two concerts at St. Theresa Church in Birkirkara and in Gozo at the Good Shepherd Chapel. For Animae the connection with St. Joseph’s Home is more intimate and unique. This group uses the premises for their rehearsals and are fast becoming ambassadors of the Home’s mission and commitment to children’s welfare.

Animae Gospel Choir



SJH Annual 2013: 1888 - 2013