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First published in English on DVD; later translated and published into Portuguese by the same author – Dom Walter



ESCLARECIMENTOS WE CLARIFY… This book was first published in English and distributed on DVD, just to reach my scattered relatives and acquaintances in Holland, Canada, Malta, Australia, and friends, ecclesiastical authorities, and other in Malta, my native country. Initially, the Director of “Missio Malta”, the Central Office of the Missionary organization of the Archdiocese of Malta, decided to publish an historic edition of accounts by Maltese bishops, priests, religious and lay persons, scattered in all continents in their hundreds, and approached me to contribute. The modest contribution I sent pleased him, and he invited me to write a longer account, accompanied with more photos. After hesitating a lot what to choose and write about my over sixty years in Brazil, I decided to write briefly about all the places and work I had done, and sent more photos, for them to choose from or reject. The result was a respectably sized publication.

However, not wanting to leave out of this my former diocesan

Este Livro foi inicialmente publicado em inglês e divulgado em DVD, para alcançar meus parentes dispersos na Holanda, Canadá, Malta e Austrália e amigos, conhecidos e algumas autoridades eclesiásticas em Malta, meu país de origem. Inicialmente o Diretor de “Missio Malta”, Escritório Central da Arquidiocese de Malta que organiza o movimento missionário, decidiu publicar uma edição histórica de relatos escritos por alguns bispos, padres, religiosas e leigos malteses espalhados numerosos, em centenas, em todos os continentes; ele me contatou para eu contribuir no projeto. A modesta contribuição que lhe mandei agradou, e ele me convidou para escrever algo mais extenso, enviando ainda mais fotos. Após hesitar detidamente o que escolher e contar dos meus mais de sessenta anos no Brasil, eu determinei escrever algo breve, sobre todas as etapas e lugares do meu ministério; e lhe mandei mais fotos, para eles mesmos escolherem ou rejeitarem do material enviado. O que resultou numa publicação de tamanho respeitável. Porém, não querendo excluir meus diocesanos anteriores,

population. I translated it in Portuguese and published it in 2018; personally distributed it far and wide among bishops, institutions and Faculties public libraries and friends, etc. To facilitate for my people, back home. I managed to publish the book in its English version here in Brazil, since I found serious difficulties to publish it in Malta from this distance. The books of this English edition, remaining (numerous) after their distribution abroad, are being selectively, distributed in Language Schools and Faculties, and soma Universities to students and professors, etc. with a good grasp of the English Language. The contents of the book introduce the reader to become acquainted with Church organization and its apostolic activities, and with samples of Christian doctrine and moral and spiritual counsels and insights. We hope thus to evangelize somewhat in the world of culture. By lending the book to others interested also makes you, dear reader, a labourer in the Lord’s vineyard. Good Bless all readers of this book.

eu traduzi o livro em português e o publiquei em 2018, e dirigindo pessoalmente sua distribuição entre os Bispos, seminários no país, e Faculdades e Bibliotecas Municipais locais, etc. Para facilitar para o povo do meu país de origem (Malta), publiquei o livro em sua versão inglesa, aqui no Brasil, porque tinha encontrado dificuldades especiais para publicá-lo em Malta, por causa da distância. Os livros dessa edição em inglês, sobrando (bastante) após sua distribuição no estrangeiro, estão sendo distribuídos seletivamente em Escolas de Inglês e em Faculdades e alguma Universidade para alunos e professores com firme conhecimento de inglês. Os conteúdos do livro introduzem o leitor a familiarizar-se com a organização da Igreja e suas atividades apostólicas e com elementos da doutrina e moral cristã, e com conselhos e vislumbres de sua espiritualidade. Esperamos assim de estarmos contribuindo um trabalho evangelizador no mundo da cultura. Ao emprestar este livro a outros interessados, você, caro leitor, se torna um operário na Vinha do Senhor!

Que o Bom Deus abençoe a todos os leitores deste livro. The Author O Autor.

My Missionary Memories by Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P. Bishop Emeritus of União da Vitória – Paraná – Brazil

My Missionary Memories

A SUMMARY I come from Dingli, born 3rd August, 1929, my parents being Joseph Ebejer (a long-standing Headteacher in Dingli School) and Mary Josephine (Cutajar) from Lija, the first female teacher of Mathematics in a Secondary School for boys in Malta. There were other children surviving, the eldest being the well-known playwright Francis Ebejer. The family moved to Rabat, 19 St. Dominic’s Square, when I was 4 years old, and very young became an altar-boy at St. Dominic’s Priory Church (of Il-Madonna tal-Ghar). During the war the family moved to Dingli; later returning to Rabat. I joined the Dominican Order when 16 years old, after frequenting the Lyceum and submitting myself to the Oxford School Certificate Exam and the Malta Matric Exam, successfully. After the noviciate, a year of Languages course and first year of Philosophy, I was sent to study Philosophy and Theology, during four years with the English Dominicans, in Rugeley, Staffs and St. Giles, in Oxford, England. On returning I spent several years continuing my theological studies at the Studium Generale, O.P., Rabat and three years teaching English Language and Literature at St. Albert the Great College, Valletta.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

St. Dominic’s Church, and huge convent; only less than half is captured in the photo. This Church saw Walter Michael as an altar-boy; (six of age); as religious novice (at age 16), and finally in 1954, ordained priest, Also the place from where he departed for Brazil as missionary, 61 years ago.

The huge four-sided corridors of the same convent Dom Walter on a recent visit to the starting point of his religious and missionary life. 9

My Missionary Memories

Lateral view of St. Dominic’s Church, with Fr. Angelo Mamo, O.P., veteran missionary in Brazil , and Dom Walter.

The Statue of Our Lady of the Grotto, a marble copy (to be taken in procession) of the original Statue fixed onto the wall above the altar of the underground Chapel beneath the Church. The popular devotion goes back to over five centuries; lately this marble statue shed tears of human blood (see text).


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


Portrait of Fr. Domingos Ebejer, O.P. (year of 1954), with the Dominican habit, awaiting in Malta for the permission to become a missionary. The provincial then was against the idea; only in 1957 he got the permission to go to Brazil.


My Missionary Memories

Finally, my insistent appeal to go as a missionary to Brazil was granted. I landed in Santos harbour on the 21st December, 1957 and went to São Paulo to join the Dominican Community, composed of Italians and Brazilians of the Lombard Province. I, then only 28 years old, journeyed with Fr. Isnard Farrugia O.P; we went by train and car (on unasphalted roads) inland in São Paulo State, always accompanied by a strange, strong smell in the air: that of fresh coffee beans. Days later in the last days of December, we went by plane to Goiânia, the newly implanted Capital of the State of Goiás, in the heartland of this continental country. We visited also Brasília, the projected new Capital of Brazil, then in a horribly ugly state, but imposing, with concrete structures, abuilding, at one go, full of fine red dust floating in the air, attacking one’s nostrils, and legions of workers milling around. We noticed only the President’s Palace and a very modern Hotel as finished to receive important visitors.

The historic Church “da Boa Morte” (of a Good Death) in the colonial city of Goiás, with its simple architecture, but richly ornamented interior, the place where in January-February, 1958, Fr. Dominic used to celebrate Mass, still in Latin, before moving into forested regions.

Then we moved, hundreds of kilometres (205 km) inland to Goiânia, a new, modern, busy city, with high-rise buildings, and further on to Goiás Velho (Old Goiás – 142 Km² distant), a typical colonial small town, smelling of decay, with its old houses, churches, modest shops, and 12

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

narrow winding cobbled streets, still smarting after having lost its old status as State Capital from its heydays as a centre of gold mining. From São Paulo to Goiás Velho, we were acconpanied by the veteran Dominican missionary, Fr. Cajetan Xerri, O.P. who had worked in India, and in the Middle East (during the Second World War) and along the Araguaia River, visiting by canoe Indio and local settlements on the banks of Bananal Island (bigger than Portugal and the largest fluvial island in the world).

Goiás Velho – A Colonial City First worry: could I ever come to learn the Our Father in Portuguese by heart? After being known as a demanding teacher of the English Language and Literature at St. Albert the Great College, it was very humiliating to be baffled by little street urchins, approaching me with clasped hands and begging a blessing, or to give them a holy picture. So I settled to study intensively, alone, the grammar on an English textbook, and after two months was permitted by the local Bishop, Dom Cândido Penso, O.P., a northern Italian from Lombardy, to hear confessions. By the way, Dom Cândido, in his white Dominican habit, resembled so much Pope Pius XII that he used to confound the Swiss Guards at the Vatican when this “false” Pope in white would surface without having been announced! The local Dominicans prepared for me a list of all possible sins common in that region and dictated the final counselling and exhortation I should expound before giving the absolution. I learnt everything by heart, and was counselled to start by confessing the youngsters for First Communion, as being an easier job. It was a disaster! The very first boy to confess declared a sin which was not on my official list. I tried to make him explain himself, but to no avail. As a young confessor attending the third confession ever, I started to imagine the ugliest of sins! After hesitating in anguish, I decided to absolve him, trusting him to God’s infinite mercy. After him came another and another, all stating the same sin. It seems that the catechists had taught 13

My Missionary Memories

them to repeat the same crime! Afterwards I came to know from the Friars that they were all repeating the same “crime” – they had disobeyed their mothers! Also later, to the horror of the local community, I had changed a subjunctive verb wrongly, pronouncing a horribly nasty word in its place during the exhortation!

More Linguistic Disasters For beginners using a new language, this used to happen frequently. An Italian Dominican, reprimanding the pious lay women, used the Italian phrase – “Senza Vergonia”, quite harmless, but in Brazil it brands a woman as a harlot. Their husbands came to remonstrate at our convent, and had to be appeased by Fr. Cajetan Xerri. Another Maltese Dominican, going about in a super-market in São Paulo with his habit on, asked the lady attendant that he wanted to buy a very intimate piece of woman’s underwear, setting everybody around giggling. I myself once, inviting the congregation to go home, said to them: “Now, go away, all of you!” The language problem is real, painful and embarrassing. The Diocese of Goiás is biggish, now about 22.000 km²; it was much bigger in 1957, what with the frequent subdivision and creation of new dioceses. With our arrival, the clergy (regular and secular) amounted to 12 in all for the whole territory! The reader can envisage for himself, a region still mostly covered by pristine forest, as far as the horizons around, as to how a missionary should visit and evangelize the numerous communities cropping up all over. When we two, Maltese Dominicans, moved inland, and settled down in the small town of Itapirapuan, lying between Goiás Velho and Rio Araguaia, there were no priests in this area, several thousand square kilometres, stretching, to the borders with Mato Gosso State. We soon recognised that we had to organise and adopt the “desobriga” system, and move daily from one community to another.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Start of Missionary Work

After two months’ preparation in Goiás Velho (old Capital of Goiás State), Fr. Dominic started on his first “desobriga”, a month of visits to distant mission stations during 28 consecutive days per month. The proprietor of this farm told him that wild tigers (onça pintada) during the day come down from the forested hills to hunt for prey. The only occasion he experienced raw panic!

How to do this? What time to dedicate to the town of Itapirapuan, the Mission Centre? We heard of stories of places visited only once a year. Fr. José Maria Lorenzetti, a young Italo-Brazilian Dominican and an excellent football player, was visiting a biggish town (Iporã) to the east of our enormous region, who on a feast day, baptised in one day well over 400 (four hundred) babies; but one child died in the Church before he was baptised. How do you have time to evangelize in these circumstances?


My Missionary Memories

A parochial School was started in Itapirapuan in this improvised garage, with a couple of qualified teachers (sitting with Fr. Dominic Ebejer, O.P.) a rarity in those parts. The garage was also serving as a Chapel, while the parish church of St. Dominic was under repairs. One night, when empty, the roof caved in; nobody present, and the School was closed. We had to concentrate on evangelizing a region about 8.000 sq. kms, with no priests at all. (1958).

Fr. Isnard, being over forty, took up the direction of the region of Jussara, a bigger town, not far from Rio Araguaia, which he could visit taking the local bus service, on roads without asphalt. We never saw a metre of asphalted road. I, only 28, took up another town in the direction of Fazenda Nova (1.281 Km²) and Novo Brasil, (650 Km²) with irregular services of antiquated buses (jardineiras). The problem was you never knew if or when they would arrive, or get stuck in the mud, or on the wooden bridges, later to be rescued by a band of strong bulls etc… Once our bus got its wheels stuck between the rough planks of a flooded bridge. The fast moving waters passing a metre above the wooden planks of the bridge, threatened to flood the bus. All the passengers went off, into the waters to help. I, in my white habit, to wear during weeks, could not go out and help. Next to me sat a dainty prostitute who treated me with all respect. After an hour we heard the small bells of about 10 bulls, coming along, to pull out the bus. The owner cried, swore, pinched at them with a sharp instrument and managed to pull the bus out of the river. We arrived safely but hours late.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

A strong group of members of “Marianos�, in those days a strong presence in all parishes, with the Maltese Fr. Isnard Farrugia, O.P., parish-priest, in Itapirapuan (1958).

A group of children prepared for First Holy Communion in Itapirapuan, with Fathers Isnard Farrugia (on the right) and Dominic Ebejer, O.P., (1958). These people had migrated from other distant States and brought with them their settled traditions.


My Missionary Memories

I used to pick up a rare Jeep or truck, loaded or not with sacks of produce and I used to join other passengers, at the back, or sitting on the sacks of beans, rice, etc., or standing holding on to something, not to be catapulted, when the truck, accidentally, would abruptly pass through a big hole sidewards. The roads had been opened merely by people, cutting their way through the forest, and throwing soil or stones, etc., to fill the bigger holes, roads which had never seen or heard the roaring motors of caterpillars or bulldozers of any sort.

Horse-Back Riding

A precious historical photo. This area originally was covered completely with tall virgin forest, but the migrants wanted it “clean� (that is, clear of forest). Almost two kilometers on the horizon is the native dense, untouched forest (part of the Amazonic forest). In the foreground, the area cleared of all vegetation, the stubs and low trunks already incinerated, dissolve quickly and all this becomes farmland; later, after exhaustion, it turns into pasture land, and later, in many regions, unproductive desert land. The forest in the distance has certainly disappeared at least half century ago. Brazil is quickly destroying its natural resources, (1958).

No! I could not carry on relying on such totally uncertain means of travelling. So looking around I had to settle down for horses or mules, carriers to take me off beaten paths and forest. There was not a single 18

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

metre of asphalted road in our region, several thousand square kilometres in extent. I journeyed always alone, not conscious of dangers in the forest: accidents and wild animals. Practically, starting from our centre, Itapirapuan, you could go hundreds of kilometres around, to the east and north in the direction of our diocesan borders, without encountering a single resident priest, a single doctor or a single residential hospital; it was either we or no one else! Yes, there were numerous pharmacies, cared for by local untrained, non-professionals, doing brisk commerce and prescribing medicine to all applicants, with youngsters of 16 of age applying intravenous injections!

The first mounted excursion by Fr. Dominic, to administer the last Sacraments to an old lady, about four leagues distant (-25 kilometers) on a borrowed mule (first on the left). She was a negro lady, who informed me that she had been born a slave a year before the abolition of slavery in Brazil, in the 19th century (1888). Her several descendants of various generations (some are almost white) line up for a photo (March 1958).

I was horrified! As to the seriously ill, they had to be transferred on murderous roads to Goiรกs Velho, hours distant.


My Missionary Memories

The First Setback I, myself after two years wandering on horseback from one mission station to another, daily, was diagnosed as suffering from low blood pressure, by a wandering doctor and sent, on horseback to Goiás, well over a hundred kilometres away, to the only hospital in that region. I had to spend a full month interned, submitted to intensive treatment - too much work; badly fed as a whole. A famous Dominican, Father Acerbi, on visitation, visited me at the hospital; on leaving, in the corridor, I heard him saying, referring to me: “He is finished; he won’t regain his strength again!!” After a month, I was, thank God, again in form, going around on my mule, visiting my mission stations as usual.

Fr. Dominic travelling through dense forest on his monthly “desobriga” (detour) of 28 days monthly; two days to rest to meet his companion, Fr. Isnard, change clothes, fresh wine and hosts for Mass, etc. Instinctively the horse always stopped to have at least a sip of fresh water from the innumerable brooks and rivulets, always positioning himself upstream to drink cleaner water.

Before this, I had tried travelling, stretched at night on the lorry’s cargo, mostly sacks of rice or beans, carefully putting my outstretched arms and legs under the ropes encircling the cargo. In a moment of reverie, - I remember it was a beautiful moon, - the lorry lurched abruptly 20

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

sideward, and literally spit us off, all the passengers, from top of the cargo on to a high side bank of the forest. Luckily nobody was hurt, but someone could have been impaled on the sharp upturned roots of fallen trees.

Fr. Dominic crossing a sizeable river, but with low water level. Observe the various interesting details. 1) the forest on the high river banks completely destroyed, 2) accumulations of cut or burnt trunks and branches swept downstream during the rainy season. During such occasions, the missionary couldn’t ford the river at this low point, but move still upstream to find an easier fording, so delaying his arrival at the Mass Station.


My Missionary Memories

Organized Visits to Communities

The first Mass (1959) ever celebrated in the open air, in a small hamlet, discovered by Fr. Dominic in forest land, called Novo Goiรกs, encouraging the locals to build a small chapel, a few metres on higher ground, where presently they have a bigger Church and adjacent buildings: parish-hall, catechism classes, etc.

The present Church of Novo Goiรกs, built on the same spot of the first small chapel, in Novo Goiรกs.

I hesitated no longer. I started using always a horse or a mule, (a much stronger animal). I used to go out of our central house in Itapirapuan on the first of each month, and to the rounds in 28 days, rigorously following the order of my monthly visits, so that every community would know the exact day of my visit, normally arriving before nightfall, put my 22

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

horse in a pasture, giving him his daily ration: maize, corn, etc., I eating something rapidly in the house which would have given me hospitality, and go straight to the Chapel or farmhouse, chosen as our meeting place. Sometimes it was an improvised tent or a big shady tree. The people would be waiting hours before, it being another rare chance of meeting friends and socialize, frequently finding a new friend, a possible future husband or wife. The majority would come with all the family, on various horses. I once witnessed a beautiful sight. The mother, of course, on her own horse, but a child of about five was at the back of her saddle, another in front of her, another in her arms, and evidently carrying another in her womb; a cheerful figure on her journey for her monthly Mass. So from Monday to Friday, I had to travel at least three to five or six hours on horseback, from one station to another. I discovered that, everything being normal – no rivers bursting their banks, or passing over bridges, or the usual river passes made unsurpassable, etc., a horse or mule normally covers one league (légua), per hour. Here, in Goiás State, equivalent to 6.600 metres, (in São Paulo State, 6.000 metres) but measures are totally unreliable in the interior; nobody uses kilometres, but only leagues. And one supposed league: “It’s just over there, on the other hilltop…” can be two or three leagues ahead! After snatching a quick snack (sometimes arriving late, dispensing that repast), I used to enter the Church/Chapel/hall and start preaching the Rosary, catechizing the people through the meditations of the Holy Mysteries. In those days (1958-1960) afternoon and night Masses were prohibited, except on Saturdays and Sundays. Afterwards there followed long sessions, hearing confessions, often until 11:00 p.m. The faithful had migrated from regions with reasonable pastoral care, and they approached the Sacraments in great numbers.

Pastoral Work In the mornings, again people queueing for confessions. For many it was the only chance to confess that year. They would come on horseback, riding for hours. Not unfrequently, adults would come for the first 23

My Missionary Memories

time in their life for First Confession and Holy Communion, and have to be prepared as to the essentials; others waiting their turn. Here I applied the contents of an article of St. Thomas Aquinas as to what are these essential teachings. After confessions, Mass started, accompanied by community singing. After the readings in Latin, I used to read the Gospel again in Portuguese and then a didactic sermon. Afterwards followed baptisms, very numerous. Again in Latin, no previous preparation possible. I was lucky to find a girl to take down the names of the children, parents and god-parents, handing them a baptismal certificate. The number of baptisms was exceptionally high, even in small places; it could be as high as eight to ten; although visited by me monthly during a three years’ period. In some villas; it could be thirty or more in other municipalities. It was normal to baptize on a Saturday and Sunday’, for a feast-day, about one hundred babies, although a month before I would have baptized over twenty in the same Chapel!

The farmer’s family, who hosted for a night the passing missionary, Fr. Dominic, who when returning from attending the people downhill (confessions, preaching, Holy Mass) found that a hen had laid some eggs on his bed and was calmly roosting…


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Some Statistics do Help

On the banks of the lake Britânia in the vicinity of Rio Araguaia, Fr. Isnard Farrugia, O.P., during one of his regular visits to the region, hundreds of kilometers distant from where his companion, Fr. Dominic, would be working.

The reader must remember the size of our territory, practically more than half the size of the Diocese of GoiĂĄs. Consulting the statistics, the municipalities served by us, two Maltese Dominicans (Fr. Isnard Farrugia and myself), was about 8.000 (eight thousand) square kilometers, roughly 24 times the size of the Maltese islands. This, more or less; it was all receding frontiers. By the way, a Dutch priest used to move around, always among the distant forest fazendas (farms), at will, since there were no properly erected parishes, but just missionary territory. The whole territory of the diocese of GoiĂĄs had in all just twelve priests.


My Missionary Memories

It was customary during village feast days to burn a high-pile of wood. This one ready for the feast of Our Lady de Aparecida (national shrine in São Paulo State), the tiny chapel (8x4 metres) in the Centre of the tiny town of Novo Brazil, was then (1959-60) the only Church/Chapel in this municipality of 650 km².

I made it a point, while using the Latin text for baptism, to explain in Portuguese the meaning of each rite; so each ceremony used to take me more than an hour. That was the only way possible to evangelize, of a sort, in our region. We had only a somewhat biggish church in only two centres; the others were small chapels: 8x4 metres, or 10x5 metres; otherwise we gathered under trees, tents, etc. So in the big feasts, I had to


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

divide the baptisms in groups of 20 babies each turn. It was customary to have the parents of the baby, the godparents and a solemn presenter, - a relic from slavery times - within the chapel… suffocating. Even to me, it is a mystery how I could stand all that punishment! Yet, I remember, sometimes my hand trembled with exhaustion while baptizing. Three such ceremonies daily were normal on a feastday, plus two or three Masses in a day and hours of hearing confessions. Somehow the missionary had to survive, God intervening! Practically all came on horseback, nobody used cars; there was only one dust road; there was no gasoline sold in the region; those few cars coming through the only opening in the forest, arrived carrying with them the liquid in bins of sort. Once, deluged with crowds, I heard confessions, non-stop through the night of Good Friday. Although dazed, I managed to work on Saturday. A World in Motion It’s not possible in Malta to envisage this continuous flood of migrants streaming in to buy land, or do some land grabbing, coming from the States of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Pernambuco, and from the North East, thousands of kilometers distant. Each family with different linguistic accents, customs and religious practices. To make all this credible to the sceptic reader: the State of Goiás was more than twice the size of Italy (301.302 km²); then it stood at 617.725 km²; after its division by the creation of the State of Tocantins, Goiás State now still stands at 340.103 km². I like to emphasize, when discussing pastoral problems: “Remember: Brazil is not really a country; it is a continent”! With these figures in mind, it becomes easier and more credible to visualize, that the first stretch of the “desobriga” or monthly round of visits to chapels or mission stations, was the tiny hamlet Cruzeiro, about 20 kilometres away, a mere three hours’ drive, a hop you might say. The next would be Novo Brazil, a small town (a municipality) with a mere tiny Chapel (8x4m³) for its territory of 650 Km². We had to start other centres for monthly visits.


My Missionary Memories

Punctuality Absolutely Necessary

Young people learn quickly! Local cowboys thought that Fr. Dominic had been brought up on a cattle-farm back home, judging from his poise on horseback! In fact, progress was quick; because of the daily journeying on horse-back, from three to eight hours daily. Between the horse and the rider there develops soon a certain harmony of movements, a strange mutual bond!

The visiting missionary had to be strictly punctual, because people couldn’t be frustrated after their long journeys, and very often would invite godparents from other communities for the baptism of their offspring. Accidents could and did happen, but when arriving late, I used to light firecrackers to announce my late arrival, and those returning home frustrated, would willingly return for the Mass, etc. The biggest flattery I received once, when such a person going back home disillusioned, met me coming late because the river had overflown; he said: “I knew that our “Vigário” would blast a stone, but he would come!” It was encouraging to hear that!


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

A family, all mounted, normally coming from leagues afar to take part in the community Mass, a rare event, and approach the Sacraments. Their joy is manifest in their faces.

On another occasion I simply couldn’t cross an overflowed river, my horse simply refused to follow me swimming across. On the other side, the passengers of the local bus (jardineira) had passed the night on the spot; I spent it in a nearby farm. For the first time ever I took off my religious habit to swim across and pull behind me my terrified horse. Although I was decently dressed, with long trousers as usual, the passengers had never seen, in those days, a priest without his cassock, or religious habit! The horse stopped crossing, turning his body upstream and was battling for his life. I was also getting tired crossing and in danger of being hit by his swinging hoofs. So I let myself be carried downstream, to economize on my resistance, and slowly approached the opposite wooded bank. I heard the people cry: “Father Dominic (my religious name) is drowning!” I muttered to myself “Not yet, not yet”, and reached the opposite bank, stepping barefoot right on top of a cactus plant! The people had pulled and rescued my horse, panting painfully. Then I had to continue driving for another league to Cruzeiro. By the way, the hot sun dried on my body all my drenched clothes. On arriving I put on my vestments for Mass, inviting the locals, but when I was to start, I opened the tin box containing the big hosts – I found that all had turned into powder because 29

My Missionary Memories

of the humidity at the riverside. So, no Mass! I saddled my horse again for another three hours’ ride to reach home.

The first house to be built in Bacilândia right in the forest. In a clearing nearby, Fr. Dominic spent the night in a tiny hut made of branches exactly when the new modern Capital of Brazil – Brasilia – was inaugurated (21st April, 1960). Mass etc., was celebrated in this house. In another visit, he had to refuse to bless the dubious wedding of a middle-aged gaucho, from the south, who had “lost” (?) his personal documents while crossing a river (!?!). So he left the house, full of people, discharging his revolver toward the sky, at the doorstep, several times, to show his disgust and anger at the refusal. On another occasion, Fr. Dominic, in the name of the Archbishop of Goiania – the Capital – declared null and void an old marriage (for lack of age) and celebrating new ones; the result of a full canonical process and gathering of witnesses, collected in the tiny hut, all swearing on the Bible.

This place, Bacilândia, has become a nice, well planned small town (2007).


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Organized State of Things During the three years in the centre of Goiás State, hardly a day repeated itself, and on leaving, transferred to Paraná State, I left with the impression of having stayed there over seven years. Fr. Isnard and I used to meet two or three days per month. He used to take care of the town of Itapirapuan, and all the vast territory of Jussara, Santa Fé and Britânia, in the direction of the Rio Araguaia. Personally I worked there just occasionally, when I had to substitute him. Although somewhat more developed, than my region, it presented the same problems. Unfortunately, although very hard working, he was very taciturn, so I used to receive little information about his apostolate and ministry in his region. In my own region, the heavy pastoral work of preaching and sacramentalization was so heavy that we had no means of having regular catechetical classes. The children depended on their parents, their teachers at school or some local volunteers; I never arrived at organizing courses for catechists and others. We could only hope to salvage what the incoming waves of migrants had received back in their parishes of origin.

The bridge over the Rio Vermelho (Red River) and the St. Peter d’ Alcântara Hospital, in the old city of Gioás; in those days administered by the Dominican Sisters. There Fr. Dominic was interned for a whole month, for malnutrition and low blood pressure. On the side, can be seen the hospital church.


My Missionary Memories

The Menace of Pentecostalism Even before I started my missionary work I could see that this vast region between the town of Goiás Velho and the Rio Araguaia, thousands of square kilometres in extent, with no Catholic resident priest, was literally being overrun by a huge number of Pentecostal Pastors. For them it was really a “happy hunting ground”. The Mayor of the biggest town in the area of my activities – Fazenda Nova (New Farm), a Pentecostal deacon, was listening to my preaching from outside of a tiny distant chapel with his political companions and said publicly, that in his native State of Minas Gerais he had never (or almost), as a Catholic, heard a priest explain the gospel in Portuguese, and if so, would never have changed his religion. Who Builds the Churches?

The parish Church of Fazenda Nova (1.282 Km²), built by Br. Simão Dorvi, O.P., an Italian Dominican, non-clerical. In 1960 its walls stood only a few metres high. The town was the Centre of the huge region (3.000 km²) attended by Fr. Dominic, moving around on horseback. When moved south (January 1961) this friar left ready to be delivered by the outlying farmers about 80 young bulls, for the roofing of this spacious church, the result of a house-to-house campaign in the vast interior.

After I had been two years doing intensive preaching, even in a smelly pub, next door to an Evangelical temple, using the local 32

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

loud-speaker, I came to ask the locals, as to who would normally build the Catholic Churches or Chapels. Their answer came rapid: “It’s you, the Vicar!” I was taken by surprise, since I had to admit knowing nothing how to carry out this task. The fact was that I started the process, by amplifying the Chapel at Cruzeiro and building a new church in Novo Brasil; this at least during my last year in Goiás. From then onward I never stopped in the State of Paraná building churches, chapels, a College in Faxinal, North of Paraná handed over to Dominican Sisters from São Paulo, and later, during my thirty years as Diocesan Bishop of a new diocese, reforming or improving existing buildings, and building from scratch the Major Seminary (two four storeyed blocks and the Seminary Church) next to the Bishop’s residence in União da Vitória.I learnt an important lesson: most of us harbour potentialities, capabilities unsuspected, ready to stand out once you come to apply the gifts, God-given, but to us, unsuspected. The bookish friar, known as such in Malta, proved he had talents hidden, but accidentally discovered, just because he had moved to Brazil!


After almost half a century, Dom Walter Michael Ebejer, before known as Fr. Dominic, revisited Itapirapuãn and celebrated a sort of Memorial Mass, in St. Dominic’s Church, inviting friends and old acquaintances, who still remember with affection the Maltese Dominican Fathers, who were transferred from Itapirapuãn to the State of Paraná, in the first days of January, 1961.

My Missionary Memories


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


In the year 1961, Fr. Isnard and I had to go south, to the State of Paraná, where during the Provincialate of Fr. Seraphine Zarb, the Maltese Dominican Province started its own mission: The Vicariate of St. Martin of Lima with the maximum presence of ten friars at a time, but about 16 had passed long years as missionaries in Brazil.

The old wooden house turned parish house almost from the beginning – September 1961; from where I, the parish-priest, Fr. Dominic Ebejer, with successive Maltese Dominican brethren, administered the


My Missionary Memories

1000sq. kilometres parish of Faxinal: Fr. Constantino Fsadni and Fr. Denis Cuschieri, while Fr. Dominic was building the new big Church, (a kilometre away), and the Colégio São Domingos, entrusted to the Brazilian Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena.

Father Dominic (Dom Walter), and Father Angelo Mamo, changing the punctured wheel of their old Jeep; a common occurrence in the rough roads of Faxinal.

Almost simultaneously we opened a house and parish in the suburbs of Londrina, the world’s coffee capital, in north Paraná. Several Fathers worked hard and developed it as a parish. Afterwards we opened a parish in a poor neighborhood in Ponta Grossa, already a big modern town, where Fr. Rafael Cini did heroic work, starting from scratch as to the building of our religious house and the Church, also working a lot with the Cursilho Movement.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Laying the Foundations

The Group of Maltese Dominicans then working in the State of Paraná; from left: Fathers Denis Cuschieri, Constantine Fsadni, Thomas Zammit (Superior), Isnard Farrugia, Raphael Cini, Domnie Ebejer (Mons. Walter) and Angelo John Mamo (1964).

In 1961 Fr. Isnard Farrugia and myself took over the country parish of Borrazópolis, then belonging to the diocese of Londrina, Paraná, as the first of the Maltese Dominican autonomous mission. Incidentally there was a family with two sons seminarians, one being the present Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, who on holidays would serve us at Mass. Later, in 17/September/1961, we took over the parish of Faxinal (1.000 km²) and I became the parish-priest, Fr. Isnard staying on as responsible for Borrazópolis for many years until later it was abandoned. So our work in Paraná was like laying the foundations, including the financial bases. Evidently sacramentalization, preaching, organizing the various apostolates, accompanying the diocesan directives. In the interior, like Faxinal, the priest had to make regular campaigns, visiting the outlying farms and communities, taking stock of family problems, baptism to be celebrated, visiting the invalids, administering the anointing of the sick, hearing confessions, preparing for the celebration of wedlock etc. On the side-line begging for contributions of beans, rice, coffee, (always by the sack load). The poor would give one, five ten, etc. sacks of coffee, etc., the rich much more, which were gathered or handed in, later 37

My Missionary Memories

to be sold; also bulls, sheep, pigs, etc., to build churches, halls, etc. This work, close to the people, was very appreciated and did enormous good. The faithful were very generous. So we could build new chapels, halls, etc.

The new Parish-Church in Faxinal, dedicated to St. Sebastian.

Paranรก is more highly developed, the Church and society; the roads were and are better, so we moved around, normally using Jeeps: The parishes and dioceses have multiplied enormously. This means that the population is denser; you reach much quicker your destination and so the work can be heavier. Faxinal, where Fr. Dominic spent eight years as parish-priest, had a population of about 28.000, and in a year we baptized 1.200 babies. Together with constant instructions and general preaching, we had organized catechism, and religious associations. He saw the importance of hearing confessions. Two hours in each place was normal. The original area was later subdivided into two new parishes handed over to the diocesan clergy. We used to receive converts back into the Church; in one place, Rio das Flores, a whole community of them came back.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Church Tower of St. Sebastian in Faxinal, new residence of the Dominicans, after their transference, including the parochial office.

Becoming an Architect The new Parish-Church abuilding during the term in office of Fr. Domingos Ebejer was interrupted during four years, to build the brand new ColĂŠgio SĂŁo Domingos, at the side of the Parish-Church, on the same terrain handed to the Church, as being more urgent to the local society. The money for both buildings came exclusively from the local people,


My Missionary Memories

through well-organized feasts and extensive campaigns in the countryside, gathering rice, coffee, pigs, heifers, etc. We had no architect engineer in the vicinity and Fr. Dominic had the one responsible living in distant São Paulo; journeys were difficult in those days. As to workers we had plenty of good ones. Following the instructions of the available engineer, Fr. Dominic soon learnt to accompany closely each step, from the foundations to the very top. In Faxinal he built the new church, with numerous (42) tall side stained-glass windows, and five huge ones, depicting the creation of the universe, in the façade. However, the last few side ones and three storeyed of the church tower, with space for apartments, were finished later by his Maltese brethren. The parish quarters were enclosed and distributed within the ample Church-tower and over the two sacristies. The concrete structures for a future lift (elevator) so common in convents and clergy homes over here, were built, but later abandoned by other Fathers. A pity! A vocational project was started by Fr. Dominic, with the Superiors’ permission, by buying a small farm to help in the upkeep of a future Minor Seminary or Apostolic School, in view of guaranteeing the future of our mission in Brazil. After buying, several successively bigger farms he settled for a bigger property (over 40 alqueires), consisting of a deep triangular valley, at the narrow point having a spectacular waterfall (about 40 metres high) of the Rio São Paulo, excellent for cattle breeding, with its deep sides moist all year round, oozing water. Most seminaries have agricultural properties to help in their upkeep. An “alqueire” measures 24.200 square metres. Before moving out from Faxinal, he left over one hundred heads of cattle, and also bought land in the urban sector of Faxinal for the building of the projected building. However, this project never materialized; all property was sold later, and applied in the building of our Convent in Curitiba. Fr. Dominic moved to Ponta Grossa in 1969, leaving to his brethren, Angelo and Constantino Mamo and others, the task of putting up the last four or five side stained-glass windows and of building the last three storeys of the Church Tower, really a block of rooms.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

In Faxinal, during half of his tenure, Fr. Dominic was alone, and another half with the now deceased Fr. Denis Cuschieri and Fr. Constantine Fsadni, the young Fr. Angelo Mamo, now retired in Malta after old age, his brother, Fr. Constantino Mamo, presently superior of our mission in Albania. After learning the ropes, they would be transferred to other parishes in Paraná State.

The building of a College Also at the side of the new Church, Fr. Dominic managed to build the essential part of the new college - Colégio São Domingos (started in 1964) – fully accredited by the State and handed over to the Brazilian Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, maintainers of other big Colleges elsewhere, now greatly expanded, modern, well considered, taking their pupils up to University. The local Dominican Fathers helped about during the first years, teaching English, Religion and so on. Fr. Dominic moved to Ponta Grossa only after transferring the Fathers’ quarters to the new apartments, built around and within the Church Tower. The Church (yet unfinished) was first used sometime in 1967. At the same time, the people were encouraged to build, in the interior of the parish territory, a series of churches, small and large, to serve the growing devotion of the faithful. About this time we had a huge parish mission preached by the Passionist Missionary Fathers, with the new Church of St. Sebastian full with the people standing, because we had no benches yet.


Aerial photo of the “Colégio São Domingos” in its present state, Faxinal. At the entrance (on the right) the Dominican Sisters’ House; in the top, at the back, the new Parish-Church, with the last top section (three storeys) still under construction. The initial section constructed by Fr. Dominic was amplified several times over by the Sisters themselves: spacious theatre, Olympic Swimming pool and modern educational spaces and other amenities.

My Missionary Memories


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Later Celebrations

The parish-church St. Sebastian, Faxinal, as it is now.

The festive external faรงade of the parish-church of St. Sebastian, Faxinal, during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations (19/01/2008) The huge stained-glass windows in the faรงade depict the creation of the universe.


My Missionary Memories

In 19th January, 2008, great celebrations were held in Faxinal on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the parish. Out of gratitude for Fr. Dominic and companions, a coloured photo card was distributed; in fact, the Dominican Friars later built a big complex: a spacious hall, catechism classes, etc… and a big building to receive disabled children. – APAE – named after “Mary Abela Micallef ” – the mother of Fr. Vincent Micallef, Maltese Missionary, now retired in Malta after many years in Brazil.

The principal entrance: Colégio São Domingos, Faxinal.

Also “Colegio São Domingos” celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 13/11/2014, with a whole week of celebrations, religious and cultural, in the college theatre, in the parish church and in the local city club. For the occasion, Fr. Dominic, now Bishop Walter, was invited as part of the living memory, as founder of the College and teacher of English in its first years. Several later Dominicans collaborated as teachers and councillors.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The well-trained college band, the “Fanfarra do Colégio São Domingos”, presents itself to the delight of its fans.

The Golden Jubilee of the “Colégio São Domingos” was celebrated by a week of pastoral and cultural activities. The interior of the Parish-Church, Faxinal, with an expressive number of Dominican Sisters, from other Houses. Festive Mass presided by Mons. Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P., as founder and collaborator, invited for the occasion. The first sister in the second row (on the left) is Mother Provincial, Isabel Coenca, former directress who greatly expanded the building and other cultural amenities of the College. (13/11/2014) 45

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

part 3 STATIONED IN PONTA GROSSA In 1969, Fr. Dominic moved south to Ponta Grossa when he was chosen Superior of our Mission. There Fr. Rafael Cini had started a big building project, but painful, because the people were poor. The two passed sometimes hungry. There he helped Fr. Rafael in all his pastoral work, going around on a bycicle to distribute Holy Communion to the bed-ridden in the parish. The local bishop, Dom Geraldo Pellanda, a Passionist, and ex-student of the Angelicum University, Rome, literally loaded him with work: 1) Lecturer at the Diocesan School for lay people and Sisters, 2) Diocesan Director of female religious Congregations, (very numerous) 3) introduced him to some work at the local University and, 4) giving retreats to female religious all over the four Southern States; Sisters of various nationalities, with recent local recruitment of vocations; this between 1969 and 1973.

The interior of the Parish-Church of St. Rita de Cรกssia built by Fr. Raphel Cini, O.P., and the religious house next door.


My Missionary Memories

Also he was invited to teach Dogmatic Theology at the Studium Theologicum, in Curitiba from 1971 onward: about 77 theology seminarians in one class! The lack of professors was then enormous. A good number of them later became bishops, and one, Cardinal of SĂŁo Paulo, etc.; and Fr. Dominic, fourteen years on active missionary work, with no time to study, suddenly had to concentrate on study and research. He was really alarmed! This went on until his election as Bishop in 1977.

The last group of Maltese Missionaries during a reunion in Ponta Grossa. (From the left) Mons. Walter Michael Ebejer, and Fathers Reginald Borg, Constantine Mamo, John Xerri, Angelo John Mamo, Vincent Micallef, and Brother Anthony Baldacchino (1992).



Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


The Parish-Church of St. Peter, of Matinhos, in the Diocese of Paranaguá, Paraná, in its present state. Starting work on the foundations, Fr. Angelo Mamo, O.P.,was moved to Ponta Gossa, as Vicar Provincial of our Vicariate, and Fr. Dominic continued the foundations and the erection of the whole building. The façade and the tower were greatly modified later from the original design.


My Missionary Memories

After finishing five years as Vicar of the Provincial, Fr. Dominic was sent in December 1973, to our parish in Matinhos, a (then) small tourist town, but reaching out to about 50 kilometres of beaches on the Atlantic Coast. From about nine thousand (9.000) local inhabitants, the population, during the summer holidays, would bulge to about 400.000, streaming in from other parts of Paranรก, etc., Argentina and other countries. He took over from his Dominican Brethren Fr. Antonino Grech and Constantino Fsadni, who had built the parish house, and from Fr. Angelo Mamo, who had just started work on the foundations of the parish Church. Fr. Dominic was there only during two years or three summer periods; he managed to finish the structures of the Church, and roofing etc. and started celebrating in its walls. Afterwards the building was finished by Fr, Reginaldo Borg, other Maltese Dominicans and secular priests.

The old Chapel of St. Peter opened for the public and originally used as ParishChurch. The small square in front used to be full of faithful standing outside during Masses, on Sundays.

On weekends Fr. Dominic would celebrate three Masses on Saturdays and three on Sundays, in our chapels, clubs, hotel refectories, etc. Out of the season, he used to make short visits and catechize the 50

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

scattered small schools on the beach, and so reach the children. Tentative pastorals were also sprouting. During the holidays, it was maddening work; no other word can describe it. The beaches were full of people. He had even to judge the advance or retreat of the ocean tides and of stream flows, not to get stuck in the sand banks and lose the old car he used. No roads were yet properly opened along half of the beech, in the direction of Pontal do Sul. To accommodate the huge crowds for Mass, he had to build in the (future) church’s square, an ample wooden shed or hall, well-aired. During one year, he was invited by the local American Bishop, Mons. Bernard Nolker, C.SS.R to give weekly conferences in the School for lay persons in Paranaguá city.

Aerial view of the City of Matinhos, with its posh sector of Caiobá (on the horizon). The parish extended eastward for 50 Km of coast, dotted with tourist establishments. Presently subdivided into three new parishes: Caiobá, Praia de Leste and Pontal do Sul. The parish-Church is visible, slightly atop the bottom left corner.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


The Dominican Convent in Curitiba, Paraná, built by Maltese friars to house vocations. View from the back. This parish was later handed over to the archdiocesan clergy.

In January 1976, Fr. Dominic was transferred to our Curitiba parish, to help Fr. Rafael Cini, who was the founder, and live in a small, old, wooden farmhouse, now engulfed by the expanding suburbs. Curitiba is the State Capital, with about three million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. Our church was an old horse stable; our catechetical classes were held under a big shady tree, until Fr. Rafael built a square space of sorts, serving as a Chapel. The State was building big housing estates, with hundreds of new houses on both “wings” of our parish still in formation. Fr. Dominic helped in all the ministry, but he used to go out with his portable loudspeaker to visit homes (making it to rest on a window perch), on one side, to preach the Rosary Mysteries, and then go 53

My Missionary Memories

to the other side of the parish, to celebrate Holy Mass in another home, always inviting the neighbours, and accompanied by a small group of lady helpers. Also heard the confessions of the faithful; a way to congregate the multitudes, newcomers from other parishes. Then a novelty: the Archbishop of Curitiba invited Fr. Dominic, still teaching Theology to seminarists, to take care of the Archdiocese’s Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (or MECES), with whom he had fortnight meetings, with instructions, and a private news-sheet published and distributed. Also he was invited by the Pontifical Catholic University, in Curitiba, to give lectures on Catholic issues (Gaudium et Spes, etc.) to law students, and. in various faculties. When he had to give lectures at Catholic University late at night, while visiting homes for prayer sessions, he would leave the conducting of the last part to his female collaborators, and go to give the last two lectures, well tired, he and his students. This for only one semester; while resident in Curitiba just a little over a year, when he was elected bishop. Later our Fathers built a modest convent for vocations, and a huge complex: with spacious theatre, catechetical classes, offices, etc. *********************************************************


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

second section ELECTED BISHOP

The Episcopal Coat-of-Arms of Bishop Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P., clearly visible the Dominican Cross (top left), the curves of the Rio Iguaçu, with two arms clasped (pointing to the symbiotic relationship between the Cities of União da Vitória and Porto União) (upper right), and underneath triangles and stars: items from the Ebejer Coat-of-Arms; the three-worded motto refers to the zeal for God’s house which should inflame a person called by God for a determined mission.

From this stifling rhythm of work, I was saved by being elected first bishop of União da Vitória on 03rd December, 1976, and ordained bishop by 15 bishops (the principal being the Núncio Apostolic, Dom Carmine Rocco) in an open-air football stadium. For internal reasons, the new diocese of União da Vitória, had given enormous problems to the Nunciature, because of geographical and ecclesiastical reasons. First created by combining three territories from three distinct dioceses; seven years later in 1983, another territory of 2.300 Km² (two thousand and three hundred Km²), was added, divided in two enormous parishes, without any priest at all… with a population of about 23.000, mostly of Venetian origin, and of Gaucho, German, Polish and Ukrainian stock. Within the diocese there are six or seven parishes of the Ukrainian Rite, under the jurisdiction of their own Archbishop. Now the diocese of União da Vitória stands at 10.000 km², roughly thirty times (30) the size of the Maltese islands. 55

My Missionary Memories

The official photo of Bishop Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P., released to the public after his election as Bishop, still carrying his former name as Fr. Dominic (December, 1976).

Bishop Ebejer’s family representatives at Ordination Ceremony while entering Ferroviário Stadium. From left to right: Francis Ebejer, Flora Ebejer Stjins, Mary Josephine Ebejer, the Bishop’s mother, widowed about three weeks earlier, who celebrated her 80th birthday a few days later, Mrs. Iolanda Sebben (acting as their guide) and Peter Bailey, husband of Nina Ebejer “not present”, and the bishop’s in-law.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Papal Nuncio, Dom Carmine Rocco, poised to start the cerimony of the layng of the hands on Dom Walter, surrounded by fifteen Archbishops and Bishops coordenants on the raised platform. In the background are visible his mother, Mary Josephine, and sister, Flora Stjins. (06/03/1977)

Family representatives from Malta, on the platform, for Bishop Walter’s, Episcopal Ordination (from left:) his elder brother Francis, his Mother Mary Josephine, widowed three weeks earlier, Flora Stjins, his elder sister and Peter Bailey, his in-law. Also present the Maltese Dominicans working in Brazil and many Maltese secular priests and sisters from the States of São Paulo and Paraná. 57

My Missionary Memories

First blessing of the faithful by the new bishop, accompanied by Dom Geraldo Pellanda (of Ponta Grossa) – on the left and Dom Pedro Fedalto (Archbishop of Curitiba).

Also Acting Parish-Priest The diocese started with only 12 parishes and 18 priests, being 4 only diocesan and 14 religious. In the city of União da Vitória, I found 4 parishes and 8 priests, and several interior municipalities, much bigger than Malta, without any residential priest. To avoid a catastrophe, I had to take over, as acting-pastor, the parish of Antonio Olinto (population 7.500; area 470. Km²) about 120 kilometres distant from União da Vitória, visiting it twice monthly, staying there three full days every time, and celebrating Mass, confessions, preaching, etc.) in three stations daily, until 11:00 o’clock p.m.). This continued for over three years. I couldn’t abandon those devout persons; the reason being lack of priests.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

On one of his first pastoral visits to the interior communities, Dom Walter receives welcome from the people of mostly Polish descent. The owner informed that he had exported (Paraná) wood to Malta in the past. The old lady at his back is his mother, Mary Josephine.

Years later I had to serve as well two small municipalities without a priest on weekends, about 40 and 20 kilometres distant from home respectively: on Saturdays visiting Paulo Frontin (population – 7.000 parishioners, area 370 Km²), - two chapels in the interior; and at night – the parish church. On Sundays, I used to visit Porto Vitória (population 4.100; area 213 km², heavily colonized by German speaking farmers) following the same schedule of work and visits as in Paulo Frontin. Thanks be to God, this went on only for a semester; the two places have had afterwards their own resident priests, both local vocations.


My Missionary Memories

Photo taken underneath large photo of Dom Walter’s only informal visit to Pope Paul VI ( 8/9/1977); who had elected him bishop.

Teaching Apostolate At the same time, because of lack of professors around, in 1978 until 1984, I had to teach Dogmatic Theology in Ponta Grossa (230 km distant) where initially my seminarians studied; and later invited to teach also in the Londrina Seminary (about 500 km distant) until 1983. I used to stay there three days at a time. When I started my own Major Seminary,


Tribute paid to Bishop Ebejer, O.P., by the Cúria staff for his dedicated work, directing the building by stages, during many years, of the new Diocesan Major Seminary (Queen of the Missions). In União da Vitória, Paraná.

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


My Missionary Memories

I also became acting Rector, in 1984 until 2006. During those years, the future Cardinal João Braz de Aviz and the Maltese Bishop Vincent Costa (of Jundiai, São Paulo) were studying in Rome, to take up these posts in the Paraná Seminaries. My thirty years as diocesan bishop were taken up in visiting the about 450 parish churches and dependent communities, always preaching and instructing, giving formation courses to all categories of people. I also visited and lectured in public schools, teaching from 1984 at the local Seminary and in 1985, once it became a Major Seminary, also frequented by seminarians from poor dioceses from the North-east and central Brazil. We were a small but dedicated group of professors, until the professors newly formed in Rome came over to help; many were my former students elsewhere. Contributions From Abroad

The first group of seminarians accepted in the new Diocesan Seminary. Several were ordained priests, and now occupy important positions in the diocese, also studyng in Rome. (1985).

In the meantime, I had built with money coming especially from Adveniat (Germany), Holland, the Holy See, Malta and other foreign countries, the Major Seminary near the Bishop’s house and enlarged the 62

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

same residence. So with my experience of building in the parishes I served, I could and had to follow closely the building process of two residential four-storeyed blocks, the garages and the ample Seminary Chapel. We helped to form, practically free of charge, about 60 new priests for nine or ten dioceses, and a much bigger number of seminarians through the Philosophy Course. After handing over the diocese, as Emeritus, I still actively helped in teaching. Only in 2017, was I dispensed from teaching.

First visit “ad Limina Apostolorum� to His Holiness St. John Paul II, who, refusing to go out first from the room, pushed the reluctant Dom Walter to go out first (10/6/1980).

A good number of our new priests, was sent to specialize in Rome, mostly at the Angelicum University, and are now teaching here. 63

My Missionary Memories

All parishes, now 25, have one or more residential priests, who presently number over 40; so there is one priest per 5.000 faithful; when the ratio in Brazil is much higher. I myself once had about 28.000 faithful in my parish: a killing experience. I consider our academic studies as very good; most students in Rome got “magna” or “summa cum laude” marks.

Dom Walter, sitting on the left organized yearly several vocational retreats, accompanying personally their activities.

Cambará II - Município São Mateus do Sul Hundreds of new Chapels have been built in the countryside; recently of modern style. 64

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

New Parish-Church of Our Lady Aparecida and Czestochowa (26/6/2006), in São Mateus do Sul, the last to be created by Bishop Ebejer.

Of course, after starting our local seminary, I stopped teaching elsewhere. This year we have had four new ordinations. The number of sisters 40, is still the same, spread about in 12 houses. Several of them frequented the regular courses of our Seminary. Lack of Personnel The local Diocesan Radio Station “Radio Educadora” has been constantly improved with the help of Adveniat, and I was responsible for a daily programme. Early I launched the Diocesan monthly bulletin “Estrela Matutina”, with a monthly edition of 12.000; presently one of 12.500. I was editor until I became Emeritus, responsible for the news and other articles. One might ask: why so many initiatives in your hands? Simple to answer: because I had nobody to carry out the tasks, or were not willing, because most were overburdened. So either I would do this, or would have had to wait years to form the right personnel. For example, I also had to form personally my permanent deacons, with all patience. The 65

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first ordinations happened in 1982, after five years’ formation. Now we have a School for Deacons. Professors from the Seminary do most of the formation. To do all this, I practically have had very occasional holidays. In heaven, I hope to recover the missing ones‌! Formation of Diocesan Patrimony For the upkeep of the Seminary, I bought land and formed a farm with cattle, pigs, etc. to furnish the Seminary and my household with milk, meat, cheese, vegetable, etc. A resident family would take care of it. The initial financial situation of the diocese was calamitous. Several local bishops openly said and wrote to the Nuncio, and to Rome, that the projected Diocese was not economically viable and should not be created. Indeed, it was only after the calamitous floods of 1983, that is, after seven years with the diocese functioning, that I could have a single female secretary, to start what would be a Curia. When I handed over, there were five competent persons at work, all with a University formation. Somehow I managed through with a single Sister attending the visiting Fathers, at my house, but without any constructive administration. Luckily, although the building programme has been vast (with money from abroad) I never permitted accumulating debts; no debts at all for the diocese in thirty years! The building of the Seminary complex was started and halted about 16 times, not to accumulate unpayable debts. Because of this amount of work, principally pastoral visits to the hundreds of medium to small communities in the interior, certain aspects had to be left out. In Faxinal, as parish-priest I used to spend hours daily visiting the sick in the local hospital; as bishop it was no longer possible. Why not a Cattle Farm? And Something Else? Indeed, when I was in charge of the parish of Faxinal, I even developed a cattle farm, with over a hundred heads of cattle; later sold to help build a convent in the capital city of Curitiba. My father, a


The City of Uniรฃo da Vitรณria, State of Paranรก; its central area; its sprawling suburbs extend kilometres away.

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


Two aerial photos of the City of União da Vitória, State of Paraná (and partially the City Porto União, SC, on the left), with the Rio Iguaçu (in its mid-course) circling around, with its spread out suburbs out of the picture. The tower of the Cathedral can be seen surrounded by the tall buildings, in front of a high circular building. Right now there is in progress a veritable building boom.

My Missionary Memories


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Morro do Cristo, in UniĂŁo da VitĂłria, PR, the second largest statue of Christ in Brasil, inaugurated on 8th June of 1968. Measures: height, 27 metres, pedestal with public Chapel, 6 metres; staircase with 224 steps. 69

My Missionary Memories

head-teacher, son of a humble farmer, was astounded, knowing me as a city lad and bookish. I have repeatedly emphasized this idea to the clerics of my diocese, that they have hidden talents, which must be activated, since most had to start new parishes, with an extensive building programme. In the last stage of my episcopal tenure, I tried to solve, once and for all, the chronic economic fragility of my diocese’s finances; God gave me the bright idea of building four high-rises (apartments, 15 to 17 storeys high, with commercial halls at ground floor) on the empty and abandoned terrain surrounding the Cathedral Church. Since I didn’t have money to spare, I gave the terrain, as my part of the business and the “Condomini” forwarded the expenses in money by installments to the building company. This “divine” inspiration made my Franciscan successor say: “Our diocese is not rich, but now it is self-sufficient!” Thanks be to God!

Some Setbacks

The great floods of 7/7/1983 (receding roughly on 3-4th August) invading about 80% of the urban perimeter of União da Vitória, on both sides of the river Iguaçu.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

As bishop, I had started with helpers to visit the prisoners in the local prison and celebrate Mass and hear their confessions; again for lack of time I had to stop; for this type of diocese and its immense needs, oblige one to choose some aspects and omit others.

Returning quickly from Malta, while visiting his mother, on hearing the news, Dom Walter examines the height of the waters in his residence and chapel (on the right). At the back, the unfinished first block of the new seminary. (July 1983)

Some natural setbacks occurred: first the catastrophic floods in July, 1983, which inundated the contiguous cities of União da Vitória and Porto União, when the Rio Iguassu became an inland sea, and about 80% of the urban territory was flooded, for about a month. From the BBC news bulletin, it became international news. I was visiting Malta, to see my ailing mother for the last time. After three days I had to come back to Brazil to stay with the people. To journey from Curitiba to União – 235 kilometers – I took a coach, then an immense lorry, then a fishing boat; then did a stretch on foot, then, accompanied by a small crowd, received a hitch-hike or two and finally a small motor-boat to cross the agitated waters of Rio Iguassu.


My Missionary Memories

Two Awful Calamities

The inside of the parish church of the Saletine Fathers, occupied by hundreds of refugees from the floods. The parish hall nearby was also fully occupied.

The bishop’s house was invaded by 2.10 metres of water; only emptied after 27 days. The valiant local laypersons, spontaneously opened numerous community kitchens to distribute food to the famined population, finding refuge in churches, halls, Diocesan Training Centre, etc. I made the rounds by boat, etc. and calculated they were providing 4.000 free meals daily. Later I organized my group and distributed freely about 4.000 pieces of furniture: beds (single and double,) tables, chairs, closets, mattresses, etc.: handed in domicile. The cities looked like besieged places; all industries of furniture, etc. were paralyzed. It took a further 27 days to enter my residence; only after the water receded.

(1983) Housing Project for Flooded Families During those floods I received a telephone call from Dom Luciano Mendes de Oliveira, S.J., President of the National Conference of Brazilian 72

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Bishops, (in Brasília), wanting to know what sort of help the Conference could offer. It was settled: the money should be employed in building new houses.

The bishop retiring from his deluged residence some personal objects in front of his garden and residence. The level of the waters had subsided considerably (observe the level of the darkish mark left on the opposite wall). His companion was half drunk, and wanted to leave the boat…

At the same time we had a similar proposition from the Government’s agency – LBV, offering money directly into the hands of the Bishop for more houses. The local politicians didn’t like the idea of being snubbed… Whatever the reason, with my normal workers, we planned to build over thirty houses with ferro-concrete structures, - from its foundations to the top, - on land forwarded by the municipality. Each house occupied a 48 square metres area of building, with a small hall, three bedrooms – for the couple, and one for the boys, another for the girls, an ample central space for kitchen and dining-room, plus W.C and shower. It was all plastered outside and painted, made rain proof. But not to be too paternalistic, we left the inside without plaster, to oblige the family to do its part. Each house had space in front and at the back for a small garden (vegetables/flower plants) and was detached from 73

My Missionary Memories

its neighbours. The small neighbourhood, also received a community building, with a conference hall, other spaces for offices, etc., sufficiently ample to serve its communitarian purposes. This cluster of houses is called the Bishop’s Houses, and the Community Centre is called after my mother “Mary Josephine Ebejer”. Each new house was donated and ownership guaranteed by an official document. Many owners added further parts to their houses, like a garage, a deposit, etc. All houses were given free. As directly responsible, I had to present all the documents showing the correct application of Government funds. Difficult was my job to go around to determine who really needed these houses, and ready to live peacefully in the community. The houses and plots were given entirely free. The Church built a sizeable chapel in the vicinity, visited monthly by its pastor. We set a standard of building which contrasted with that normally produced by the State. Other heavy floods

The floods of 1992 encircled the seminary building, interrupting our academic activities for only three days, permitting students and professors from elsewhere to come by boat. Two sisters students (on the left, a Ukrainian sister, the other, belonging to a German Congregation) being transported by boat to the seminary by a helpful neighbour; together with a priest, professor of Moral Theology.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Other floods came in (29th May to 16th June 1992), with lesser volume but invaded my house and seminary by a metre of flood water. I stayed with my students in the encircled seminary for about 17 days, interrupting the scholastic activities for only three days. Professors and others came in and moved out by boat. Luckily I managed to leave for Maringรก, (distant 518 kilometres) on 14th June 1972 to meet the Maltese Prime Minister Dr. Edward Fenech Adami and members of his government, during his visit to the North of Paranรก.

Displaced persons queueing up for hot meals during the weeks with their houses flooded.

These experiences during the floods gave us valuable insights in fraternal solidarity. On both occasions I used to go by boat all over, visiting the buildings across the river occupied by refugees. We received international help, even from the Holy See, and from international entities, firms and companies. It was big, big money; all accounted for. I had to distribute methodically the deluge of goods bought or received: mattresses, shoes, clothes, etc., by lay helpers.


My Missionary Memories

Pastoral Movements When the new diocese was started, the social and political situation was in effervescence all over Latin America. With the Continental Episcopal Conferences of Medellin and Puebla, the Catholic Church mobilized itself to work for and with the people to solve grave injustices. The region embraced by the new diocese was socially and religiously depressed. Although on the whole the rural properties were mediumsized and few were the large properties (latifúndios), there was a diffused and perverse propaganda that it was no use to hold on to small, familysized farms, and I had to face a violent campaign inciting the people to dispose of their small properties to bigger and richer owners “at the price of banana”. This mentality was favoured because of the little use made of modern agricultural techniques.

The 20th Cursílho Masculino of the Diocese, from 27 to 29/08/2004, in the House of Formation; a place kept occupied practically the year round.

Also the construction of an enormous hydro-electric power plant in our area (in Foz do Areia), started the forced selling of traditional family farms established three generations ago by immigrants from Europe: Poland, Italy, Germany, Ukraine and others, at low prices, not permitting the displaced farmers settle elsewhere, if not in humble and poor urban areas, certainly no longer able to buy new farmland in other parts. The 76

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Government-owned petrol prospecting company- PETROBRÁS, was forcibly ousting and buying land of traditional agricultural communities, at somewhat low prices. Farmers’ Unions (Sindicatos) didn’t exist yet in our region. I immediately saw the grave social disaster menacing our people and members of our numerous organized church communities spread thickly in all our interior regions. Systematic Pastoral Visits

The formation, doctrinal and pastoral, is our constant preoccupation. Now we have thousands of Ministers Extraordinary of Eucharistic Communion and many more catechists. This group of laypersons is being installed in the Seminary Church.

So during the first four years, when I started my pastoral visits to the hundreds of churches and chapels scattered uniformly, (roughly every five kilometres distant from each other), with their organized church services and apostolate, I tackled at length these subjects: the Chapel Directory, Catechism, Sunday Service (Celebration of the Word), Extraordinary Ministers of Eucharistic Communion (to be implanted), finances. Then we used to have a break (an opportunity for a rest and some smoking – to purify the lungs! –). On those occasions we started a campaign against smoking… 77

My Missionary Memories

They were heavy smokers and cultivated extensively the tobacco plant. N.B. In Brazil, we started our anti-smoking campaign much earlier than in Europe. In the interval I used to attend some confessions to show the people that the Bishop doesn’t appear just to administer Confirmation and collect the sacramental dues attached. Social Action and Apostolate Although I consider myself very much a layman in trade-unionism, I was considered by the people sort of specialized; for I was always invited to preside over the initial and inaugural ceremonies of new unions.

Lay students who had finished the three-Year Course of Theology, gathered for an official photo after gaining their diplomas.

It was the time of social turmoil, with demands against the big land-owners, in favour of more equitable land distribution. Also in our region, so we organized very strong popular movements of landless peasants, occupying idle lands, etc. I used to visit them and celebrate Mass in their encampments formed of huts and improvised space. Once I invited all the clergy to visit together an encampment of the landless, to bring all of them in contact with the sorry plight of the destitute peasants. 78

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Land Reform has been only partially attended to. The electoral promises of the Labour Party only initially were accomplished, and the Labour government politicians and the capitalist classes have been engulfed into an unimaginable network of gross corruption. We haven’t yet seen the end of it by any means. Catholic Social Doctrine To apply the tenets of Catholic Social Doctrine we organized several diocesan agricultural festivities, with parades of various groups, tradeunions, and communities taking part. Two State of Paraná “Romarias da Terra” in favour of family agriculture (small-holders) organized by our State “Pastoral da Terra”, were held in our diocese, bringing together several thousand farmers and their families, social leaders, etc. with parades, public speeches, the sale of kinds of rare local seeds, condemning chemically contaminated food, discussions and exchanges of agricultural information and politics. Finally, Holy Mass, I presiding, accompanied by other bishops and priests. Very Inspiring! Forced Selling of Family Farms The national Petro-chemical company, PETROBRÁS, already processing petrol from bituminous rock, functioning locally its biggest plant in Latin America, wanted to expand by buying farmland in a prosperous local municipality and so expelling hundreds of families: we lost a biggish church in the process. This time the State Government paid better to the removed families. The Church accompanied closely the whole process. The recent decade has seen calmer days, the healthy occupation and use of farmland is guaranteed, and thank God, we enjoy social peace and a developed agriculture.


My Missionary Memories

Dom Walter preaching a spiritual retreat to major seminarians of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, when already Emeritus. Only half of them appear in the photo.

The former Auxiliary Bishop of Malta, Mons. Annetto Depasquale, while visiting our diocese, took part in an exposition and discussion led by me in a distant parish, about the Papal Document “Centesimus Annus�, with a group of local social leaders. I was doing this in all towns in the diocesan territory, with good to excellent participation by the people. Lost flooded Churches Because of enormous flooding to feed the hydroelectric plants, we have lost under the waters five chapels in the countryside, one being a biggish Church of bricks and concrete put up by the numerous German immigrants. Once flooded, they could only see the Church spire rising above the reservoir surface. A new biggish Church was rebuilt on higher ground; the expenses being met by the State Government, and built under my direct supervision. Also the remains of their dead in the local cemetery were transferred close to the new Church on higher ground. The local community built a new spacious hall and catechetical rooms, and life carries on normally.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Bishop Ebejer preaching a retreat to the major seminarians in the Toledo Diocese, Paraná; their Bishop was his student formerly in Curitiba.

The Bishops of the State of Paraná (CNBB, Regional Sul 2), during the Visitation “ad Limina Apostolorum”, with His Holiness St. John Paul II, on 31st August , 2002. Bishop Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P is sitting in the front row, third from the left; while Bishop Vincent Costa is at the back, also third from the left; while Bishop John Braz de Aviz (now Cardinal) is fourth from the right, front row.


The Brazilian Bishops Conference, during a Pilgramage to the National Marian Santuary of Our Lady Aparecida, State of SĂŁo Paulo. Dom Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P. is second from left, in front row, ( with stole marked with crosses).

My Missionary Memories


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Invited for Discussions in Brasília As diocesan bishop I used to frequent the ten-days annual Bishops Conference to discuss the life and work of the Brazilian Church. These local bishops amount to about 480 in all; those on active service are about 310 and the Emeriti 170! Since I became emeritus in 2007, about 150 new bishops were ordained and installed. Personally I have had the privilege of being several times chosen as representative of the State of Paraná, (as member of a national group), to oversee the Liturgy in the Brazilian Church, meeting in Brasilia, the Capital, for three days at a time, and took active part in preparing the official document about the Celebration of the Word (the Sunday Cult) in halls or Chapels on Sundays without a priest; a very common situation! It was an enriching experience! Also was chosen to represent the southern States in the Doctrinal Group of twelve Bishops and twelve priests theologians, so coming to work in Brasília with Cardinal Aluísio Lorscheider and the Franciscan theologian, Leonardo Boff, who later gave much trouble to the Church, before abandoning the ministry. A charming person, but very problematic. Harvesting Several Good Results During these pastoral visits, to all communities, methodically, the faithful were made fully aware of the implications – social, economic and religious, and of the baneful consequences, had the communities to be dispersed. We also used political pressure on politicians and civil authorities at all levels. So during our visits to the communities we tried hard to convince them not to dispose of their hard won rural properties and run the risk of settling down in hostile urban areas, mostly with low salaries, etc. We also invited Government rural officials to explain the modern methods of agriculture, and community rural organization.


My Missionary Memories

As Bishop Emeritus, Dom Walter disposed of more time to dedicate himself to preaching to the clergy. Here, right on the banks of the Amazon River, with the clergy of the Parintins Diocese, mostly composed of Italian Missionaries of P.I.M.E., but already counting on the young local priests. The majority had to travel days on their motor-boats for the occasion. I preached with my back to the Amazon River (see top photo). When boats carrying passengers passed by, they would shout us greetings. Of course, we returned the complement!

This first indoctrination took us over three years to finish, from one point of the diocese to the farthest regions; and it was a resounding success, for as a whole, except the areas forcibly invaded by the enormous water reservoir to feed the hydro-electric plants in the region, the social


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

structure of land occupation and farmland has been preserved and agricultural techniques are to-day practically universal.

The main street of Cruz Machado occupied by thousands of people during the shows and activities of the 19ª Romaria da Terra, 22/08/2004.

Seven small-holders’ unions (sindicatos) were organized, born in the shadow of our parishes, and the bishop was always invited by the local leaders to address the public, and set the whole process going; and also when the unions were officially created. He had to move very carefully in these troubled areas… Successes and Some Failures In mid-course of my episcopal ministry the Church tried to reach and evangelize the anonymous multitudes in depth, and promoted systematic implanting of small groups of families (not more than ten in each) for study and reflection on scriptural texts, meeting once monthly. It took an immense amount of labour to explain and implant this system in all the 400 or so communities. So a country chapel with 40 families would organize itself in 4 or 5 Groups of Permanent Reflection (G.R.P.s), each with its moderator. It proved enormously successful, but it used to cost a lot of work: implanting, encouraging, revising. Courses for moderators 85

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to study ahead of the groups the material coming in the form of booklets from the National Conference of Bishops, (in BrasĂ­lia). We had thousands of G.R.Ps, functioning enthusiastically, but after a few years this project started to die; the principal motive being the frequent transfers of religious parish priests coming in from dioceses using other pastoral methods. But to this day many still function on special occasions organized during the year by the national Church with appropriate literature for the Groups.

Bishop Walter examining the rich variety of native seeds and corns on sale during the agricultural fair, to preserve the local native riches, against the invasion of artificial, highly commercionalized varieties, mostly in the hands of muiti-nationals.



Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

third section SPECIAL DIOCESAN CELEBRATIONS o--------o---------o


Among the customary solemn celebrations (special feasts, pastoral initiatives, etc.) some do stand out prominently. 1) Commemoration of the 15th Anniversary of the Installation

of the Diocese of União da Vitória and of the Episcopal Ordination of Dom Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Crystal Jubilee – 06th March, 1992 The diocese, made up of four territories retired from four distinct dioceses, then already encouraged by the ordination of a good number of young priests, the latest being entirely formed in our new Major Diocesan Seminary, needed an opportunity to express its unity and vigour by means of a public demonstration.


My Missionary Memories

The Papal Nuncio Carlo Furno (later Cardinal). During the Crystal Jubilee Mass.

Also our Laity had grown in organization, maturity, and needed to assert its position in the life of the diocese. So it was decided to celebrate its 15th Anniversary, which someone over here, or elsewhere, started calling it “O Jubileu de Cristal”, or “The Crystal Jubilee”, nomenclature apparently unknown over here, and which amused and puzzled the Papal Nuncio, Dom Carlo Furno when he was invited. On 6th March/1992 – (Friday) At 19:30 p.m., we had Solemn Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, concelebrated with the local clergy.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

During High Mass Bishop Walter, surrounded by several Archbishops and Bishops; third from the left, the Papal Nuncio (later Cardinal) Carlo Furno.

On 7th March/1992 (Saturday) In the ground floor of our Diocesan Major Seminary “Queen of the Missions’, we celebrated Solemn Vespers, with the Papal Nuncio, Dom Carlo Furno (later promoted Cardinal) and other bishops, clergy and many faithful present for the ceremony. Later, High Mass, with the altar and celebrants positioned on a high platform. The singing was accompanied by instrumentalists. A marked event was the enthronement of the small wooden Image of Our Lady of the Missions, with African features, which had been sculptured in Africa and presented by the Sisters of Cruz Machado to Bishop Walter; who in turn had commissioned a wooden carved shrine, with a dome on top, supported by four carved salomonic columns. It was placed near the altar; afterwards offered to the Seminary, and then placed at its entrance. Later on, Bishop Walter took the Sacred Image to all parish churches, himself preaching Missions to the multitudes that the passage of Our Lady attracted wherever She went. After refreshments for all present in the Bishop’s House, and in the Seminary, they were invited to move to the Cine-Teatro Luz, about two kilometres away, to see the festive show “Momento Artistico-Cultural”, with a rich variety of ethnic dancing groups, choirs, recitals and, interspersed, the readings of extracts about the history of the new diocese. A very rich artistic festival! 89

My Missionary Memories

The faithful during Jubilee Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Rocio.

8th March, 1992 9:00 clock - Festive Mass in the Parish Church our Lady do Rocio; the spacious church was full. The number of Archbishops and Bishops increased to 16, together with many priests, permanent deacons. Laypersons at the Offertory used a technique of moving about towards the altar, showing their various identity and work. The festive dinner was served at the Diocesan Seminary open to participants. And so finished with thanksgiving to God, these rich celebrations of the Crystal Jubilee. ***** - *****

2) 20th Anniversary of Diocese

The Diocese decided to celebrate its 20th Anniversary of its official installation (06/3/1977) and ordination of its Diocesan Bishop; the occasion was to serve for the official launching of the pastoral project “Towards the New Millennium�, consisting of several initiatives to celebrate more faithfully the new millennium of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Bishop Ebejer presiding over the Ceremonies in the Antioco Pereira Football Stadium.

This project aimed at implanting various pastorals, established a Diocesan Marian Shrine (of Our Lady of the Rosary, in the Parish of Rio Claro do Sul). That henceforth, we should organize annually “A Diocesan Marian Pilgrimage”, “The feast of the Diocesan family”. At first, the 7.500 faithful from all over gathered in front of the Cathedral, where they listened to speeches, some historical facts of our diocese etc. and appreciated some artistic numbers. Then started the massive procession, called the March of the Diocesan Family; parish after parish following its unfolded banner and carrying the respective patron saint (small sized 91

My Missionary Memories

images), together with singing by groups, musical bands etc. to reach and enter the Municipal Stadium AntiĂ´co Pereira, in order and joyful manifestations. Bishop Walter occupied the Episcopal Chair on a raised platform in the middle, surrounded by the clergy. We had the presence of a Lutheran pastor; the Parishes were heavily represented. Again several artistic numbers were shown. A huge Rosary surrounded the central platform; the Mass leaflets were distributed to the faithful and a commemorative booklet was distributed, (7000), also with the hymns and other liturgical and pastoral information. At the end, the Bishop gave the blessing with the Plenary Indulgence, for which the people had been prepared in their respective parishes. A memorable celebration indeed! ***** - ***** 3) Silver Jubilee of the Diocese - 8 - 10th March 2002

Another big diocesan celebration occurred on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the installation of the Diocese and the Episcopal Ordination of Mons. Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P. as its first Diocesan Bishop, counting on the presence of the Papal Nuncio, Dom Alfio Rapisarda.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

During the excursion to an ecological spot known as Sitio Agapê, Bishop Ebejer, celebrating his Silver Jubilee as Bishop, addresses those invited before dinner served. The Papal Nuncio Alfio Rapizarda is sitting at table on the left of Bishop Ebejer.

08/03/2002 12:00 am. (Friday) – The clergy, religious, lay leaders, seminarians and local authorities invited for dinner at the bucolic rural property, just out of the city of União da Vitória, on top of a steep mountain, called Sitio Agapê, belonging to the family of Dr. Riesenberg, a romantic German immigrant, who used his romantic phantasy to organize this forested property, now belonging to his descendants. At 20;00h Solemn Mass, presided by the Apostolic Nuncio and nine bishops co-celebrating with many priests at the Cathedral. After Mass, the invited persons went for formal dinner, at the Holz Hotel organised by the Cathedral parish.


My Missionary Memories

During the High Mass, Bishop Walter presents to the congregation some of his Dutch relatives; others could not make it for various reasons. From left to right: Leonardus Stjins, frequent visitor to our diocese, Dom Walter’s widowed in-law, Marina van Wijlick, his widowed daughter, Joseph and William Stjins, the Bishop’s nephews. They represent a numerous family that has contributed enormously for our building programme (seminary, church, chapels, etc.) and searched for other contributors: individuals and other groups. To them, our diocese is greatly indebted!

09/03/2002 (Saturday) At 8:50 a.m. many parishioners from all parts of the diocese, boarded four coaches (many went by car), departing from the Diocesan Seminary, on a tour of the several spectacular water-falls (Rota das Cachoeiras) in our region.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

On the organized ecological excursion, on the Route of the Water -falls, the coaches stop for tourists to visit a waterfall, and to inquire how many persons are needed to embace these ancient pine trees, said to be here before the Americas were discovered!

The hundreds taking part in our excursion and moving deep into the thick forest.


My Missionary Memories

The excursionists resting for a while in the new church of Nova Concordia belonging to the traditional German immigrants, rebuilt by the government, under Bishop Ebejer’s direction, to compensate for the old brick-concrete church now under the waters of a gigantic reservoir for a hydro-electric power-plant. Also the buried remains of their traditional cemitery were entirely tranferred reverently to higher ground, just behind their new church.

A “Maltese table”; that is occupied by Maltese priests and sisters from other States who took part in the excursion to the Sítio Breyer; more of them are out of this picture.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The hundreds who came on our excursion found a nice eating place where to dine. In the distance, the long queue to help themselves at the serving tables.

Several Maltese secular priests from Paraná and São Paulo took part. We visited the new Church built by the Government, in Nova Concordia (German migrants who had lost their old Church in the reservoir of a new hydroelectric station), and all gathered at the Estância Breyer for the mid-day meal, served under an enormous tent for about 780 participants, together with the Papal Nuncio, Dom Alfio Rapisarda, several bishops, many priests, sisters and many faithful from all over the diocese. The Estância is a famous country ecological resort. 09-03-2002 After returning home and a rest, we celebrated the festive Mass for the official blessing of the seminary Church of Our Lady of Good Death (da Boa Morte), popular title in Portugal and Brazil. There were readings of short historical extracts, about the buildings of the Seminary (= 2 four storeyed blocks), a wing for garages, and the handsome Seminary Church, its walls surrounded by big stained glass windows – 14 Stations of the Cross and others of different size, several of these paid for by and in memory of Mons. Ebejer’s dear parents, benefactors in Malta and in Holland. He also mentioned the foreign organizations that 97

My Missionary Memories

financed the building of the Seminary Complex = Adveniat, Erztsbistum Köln (Germany), Opus Pontificium S. Petri Apostoli (Rome), Mission Fund (Malta), and several parishes and his relatives in Holland (Sister Flora’s family Stjins).

Interior view of the new Seminary Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio Alfio Rapisarda, presided, surrounded by 16 archbishops and Bishops, and many priests; the church (da Boa Morte) was full to the utmost, the Nuncio moving with difficultly to go around blessing the Church. The Liturgy of Vespers was sung by clergy and laity, the seminarians directing psalms, etc. Immediately after the Mass, everybody was invited to partake of refreshments and food prepared in the Bishop’s House for clergy and civil authorities, and in the ground floor of the Seminary for the people at large.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

During “The Night of Culture”, a Polish lady in typical costume offers a delicious morsel to the Papal Nuncio Alfio Rapizarda sitting next to Bishop Ebejer.

From here, the authorities and the multitude were invited to move to the Cine Teatro-Luz, to take part in the “Noite Cultural” (A Night of Culture) organized by local and regional cultural entities, active in and around the Twin Cities of União da Vitória, (PR) and Porto União (SC) and surrounding municipalities. In fact, when Dom Walter arrived here, years ago, he was greatly impressed by the high cultural level of these cities and by its healthy artistic production, as something normal and on-going. He had lived in several places and different States, where the dominant public spirit was money-making and commerce. Here we have a steady literary production, during generations, especially poetry, prolific painting production, but also sculpture, music and artistic objects in texture, furniture, with frequent artistic public expositions, right to this date.


My Missionary Memories

The Polish Ethnic dancing group presented its numbers.

The Papal Nuncio, Mayors of our regional municipalities, many Bishops, priests, religious and the general public filled the theatre, who were regaled to readings of short historical flashes of our diocese’s history. The typical dances of all ethnic groups (German, Polish, Italian, Ukrainian, Gauchos, etc.) presented a brilliant mixture of our cultural heritage, to the rapturous applause of the huge audience. A very famous Archbishop of a State Capital admitted that he had never seen anything equal. A very memorable night! 10/ March/2002


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Clergy (priests and deacons) approaching the altar (in the public square) to take part in the celebrations. Some are Maltese priests working in SĂŁo Paulo and ParanĂĄ.

On the raised platform for the Silver Jubilee Mass, outside the vast Cappuchin Church. On the platform, there were more than 30 bishops, and at its back in the shade offered by the convent, a higher number of priests and authorities. 101

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On the third day, the celebrations started with Solemn High Mass, at 9:00h, outside the Cappuchin parish-church of Our Lady of Rocio, sheltered and ornamental to receive the Nuncio and more than thirty Archbishops and Bishops, many priests and regional authorities. The crowds were too big for that spacious church. The open space outside permitted all liturgical initiatives. Bishop Ebejer presided this Jubilee Mass. Before and after there was a short sequence of addresses, etc., referring to the objectives of the three days of varied celebrations - the Silver Jubilee of the Diocese and of its first Bishop. The choir was composed of those of four big parishes.

Bishop Ebejer, between the Nuncio Apostolic Alfio Rapisarda and Metropolitan Archbishop Pedro Fedalto, numerous bishops; several Regional mayors, the Military Commander and politicans were present. The priests were seated further to the right.

Immediately after Mass, those present moved on to the vast hall of the C.T.G., “Fronteiras da Amizade”, (Cowboys) which is perhaps the most famous “Centre of Gaúcho Traditions”, in Brazil. It was calculated that more than one thousands persons were present for the barbecue. The region’s authorities, prominent politicians, military Chiefs, and massive representatives from all parishes were present. The service (food, barbecue etc.) was efficient and plentiful. 102

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Part of the clergy present celebrating Holy Mass, positioned behind the Bishops during the open air Mass.

After the reading of the Holy Father’s Congratulatory message for the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the Diocese and Bishop Ebejer, the more than one thousand paying visitors settled down to heavy eating, especially the famed barbeque, in the enormous hall of this famous centre of Gaúcho Traditions.

All Bishops and visitors praised the organization and sequence of the Jubilee activities. Thanks be to God! 103

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4) Golden Jubilee of Priestly Ordination of Dom Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P

18/2/2004 – 19/2/2004 The feast lasting two days (18th and 19th February 2004), commemorating the Golden Jubilee of the Priestly Ordination of the Diocesan Bishop, Dom Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P. was, no doubt, his most brilliantly organized feast of all as Bishop (30 years). The Papal Nuncio, Dom Lorenzo Baldisseri (later Cardinal) accompanied by Dom Pedro Fedalto, Archbishop of Curitiba, arrived in União da Vitória and was accommodated in an apartment of Block 2 of the Diocesan Seminary.

Three of the four high-rises (edifícios) Bishop Ebejer decided to build on the empty plots around the Cathedral on the “condominium” system to solve the chronic economic problems of the diocese. The middle one, Edifício São Domingos, was blessed and inaugurated by the Papal Nuncio, Mons. Lorenzo Baldisseri. (18/02/2004). The one on the left is the Edifício Torre Catedral, and the one on the right is the Edifício Santa Terezinha. The fourth is out of the picture. These last two buildings were finished and occupied later, when Bishop Walter was already Emeritus, and Dom João Bosco Barbosa de Sousa, OFM was the new bishop. The responsible architect engineer of the four buildings was Gilmar Borille of Constutora Borille.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

At 17;30, p.m. Dom Lorenzo, in the presence of Bishops, local authorities, clergy, sisters and invited persons, presided over the ceremony of the Blessing of the new “Edifício São Domingos”, a high-rise of 15 storeys, one of four being built on the terrain of the Cathedral, once donated by the State Government, and under the drive and supervision of Mons. Ebejer, finally ready to be put to use, to resolve once and for all the recurrent problem of his diocese’s lack of a sufficient patrimony for the pure maintenance of its essential pastoral needs. The plan adopted with the building firm Construtora Borille, following the “condominium” system, handed over, as its share, the old building space or terrain, lying idle around the Cathedral, while the “condomini” paying their monthly instalments; so the diocese gained a few apartments and commercial ground space in each building. After the blessing by the Nuncio, some short speeches, etc. and an intimate cocktail. These four high-rises, in fact, later proved to be the start of a building boom in the twin cities of União da Vitória and Porto União, with higher buildings going up, changing completely the skyline of the two cities: a process continuing stronger as the years pass. A real building boom!

The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri (now Cardinal) at Solemn Mass in the Cathedral of União da Vitória. On the left, Bishop Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P. calebrating his Golden Jubilee of Priesthood (24/01/2004).


My Missionary Memories

The interior of the Cathedral of União da Vitória during Solemn Mass of Bishop Ebejer’s Golden Jubilee, presiding Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, surrounded by Archbishops and Bishops.

At 19:00 hours, a Thanksgiving Mass at the Cathedral Church presided by the Papal Nuncio, together with 17 Archbishops and Bishops from the three Southern States, many priests, including some Maltese secular priests from São Paulo. Immediately afterwards more than three hundred and forty invited persons took part in the formal supper in the Apolo Club. Among the many bishops was Dom João Braz de Aviz (Archbishop, recently elected, of Brasília; and presently Cardinal) and the Nuncio Dom Lorenzo Baldisseri (presently Cardinal).


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The interior of the Cathedral with Bishops in the Presbyterium, and clergy in the body of the Church; rather small, it being the first church started abuilding in UniĂŁo da VitĂłria, in 1917, the location being then simply marshland and no buildings around at all.

The dinner prepared with all refinement, was organised by the local Serra Club for Vocations, whose president, Mrs. Geni Checozzi, made a speech of welcome in the name of the local Community. Many Mayors, Bishops and regional authorities were present.


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During the festive dinner in the local Club: (from the left) Dom Alfredo Novak, Dom João Braz de Aviz, (newly elected Archbishop of Brasília, presently Cardinal) the local Mayor, Hussein Bakri, Papal Nuncio Lobrenzo Baldisseri, Bishop Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P., Dom Pedro Fedalto, Archbishop of Curitiba, and other archbishops of Paraná. Mrs. Geni Checozzi, president of the local Serra Movement (for Vocational work) addressing the guests and the almost 400 invited in the hall.

19/2/2004 (Thursday) At 8:30 a.m. we saw the parting of four chartered coaches, provided by local municipal authorities, carrying priests, seminarians, and many laypersons to the renowned ecological and tourist Fazenda of the Federal Deputy Luciano Pizzatto, and wife Dora. The farm is about 50 kilometers distant from União da Vitória, in the interior of the municipality of General Carneiro, right in the heart of heavily pristine forest land. The property has a village of very decent houses for his workers, a beautiful Chapel for monthly Mass, bus services to carry the sons of his employees to school and even to University at União da Vitória. A model farm, with huge ecologically reserved areas, areas for reforestation and wood extraction, and other touristic attractions. The Papal Nuncio and the other Archbishops and Bishops who came over, were received warmly in the Pizzatto household, affording them a long opportunity to discuss the state of the Church in Brazil and 108

The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldivsseri, entering the big new platform, especially built for the Golden Jubilee, jutting right into the middle of a lake wth hundreds of participants from far away places already occupying the tables, and cheering the numerous Bishops on their arrival.

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


During the banquet in the Fazenda Pizzatto, with the lake behind them, the Pizzatto couple sat on the right of Mons. Lorenzo Baldisseri, and Dom Walter on his left, with their backs to the lake.

My Missionary Memories


The beautiful setting of the head table, for the Nuncio Apostolic, the hosts (on the left), Bishops and authorities. Also on the right of the Nuncio, Bishop Ebejer’s Dutch relatives, (Leo Stjins, his in-law, his daughter Marina, and her two children) all waiting for the ceremony of the cutting and distribution of the Jubilee Cake.

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


My Missionary Memories

the political situation in Brasilia. Then they were ushered to the spot where priests, sisters, seminarians and lay leaders invited were sitting at their neat tables, on a wooden platform (40x10 metres) jutting into a beautiful wooded lake, surrounded by dense forest. As the bishops entered, they could smell the strong, fresh and sweet smell of recently cut trees and planks, because the whole area, a platform jutting into the lake, was surrounded on three sides by water. The Nuncio was impressed by the cheering crowd already in place to receive him. Even more, when dinner was served, all the service was done by liveried waiters, as if in a posh hotel. The Pizzatto couple sat on the right of Mons. Lorenzo Baldisseri, and Dom Walter on his left, with their backs to the lake. Afterwards, the usual speeches, cutting of the enormous cake and pleasantries, and returned home on cars and coaches. The Deputy Pizzato had really kept his promise, to prepare a grand feast for Dom Walter’s Golden Jubilee of Priesthood. The Nuncio later had an opportunity to make other contacts with Luciano Pizzatto, a Federal Deputy, in Brasilia.

Final address to the hundreds of guests, by Bishop Ebejer, (next to the Papal Nuncio; behind him Bishop Vincent Costa) and four Dutch relatives of his: in-law Leo Stjins, his daughter Marina, and her two children: Guilliam, commercial pilot (KLM) and Lauraine, teacher, all prepared for the cutting of the Jubilee cake.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Federal Deputy Luciano Pizzatto (with blue shirt) with Nuncio Apostolic Mons. Lorenzo Baldisseri on his right during the very well organized feast in his huge farm, Bishop Ebejer is fourth from the left; behind him is Bishop Vincent Costa (Jundiai, SP), the rest are Archbishops and Bishops.

The Golden Jubille Mass presided by Bishop Ebejer, accompanied by the Papal Nuncio Lorenzo Baldisseri and other Bishops.

Immediately after, at 17:30 hours, in the Seminary Church, the presidency of the Golden Jubilee Mass was handed over to Mons. Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P by the Papal Nuncio, Dom Lorenzo Baldisteri, 113

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accompanied by many bishops and priests, local or from elsewhere. As customary among us, we recited and sang solemnly the Vespers, distributing the leaflets with the text to all to obtain full participation; the seminarians were in change of everything. During the liturgy much use was made of Dom Walter’s recently published vocational booklet “My Vocational Itinerary”, in Portuguese and widely distributed in the diocese, in several moments of the Mass, especially during the Offertory Procession. The music was the responsibility of the Rebouças Parish. After Holy Communion, during a pause, there was a series of short speeches by categories of people: clergy, Religious women, lay persons, associations, etc. The multitude of the faithful was invited for refreshments in the Seminary and the Bishop’s Residence, organized by the “Obra das Capelinhas Vocacionais”, very diffusive and active in the diocese, that served hundreds of persons, and at 23 hours had to attend several coaches full of young people from the interior after having presented their artistic numbers (dance, music, recitals, etc.) during the “Night of Culture”.

The German choir presenting selected ethnic songs and dances during the “Night of Culture”.

The Show “Night of Culture” started in the “Cine-Teatro Luz” at 20:45 p.m.; house full. During these two days we had the participation of 24 bishops, but with their coming and going, summed only 17 bishops each day. The National Hymn, the Papal Hymn, (A Marcha Pontíficia)


The interior of the Cine-Teatro Luz during the show “Night of Culture�, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the installation of the diocese and the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


Bishop Walter addressing the audience from the stage of Cine-Teatro Luz at the end during the “Night of Culture�, thanking all those present: Bishops, Clergy, Religious and lay-persons, and the numerous groups that presented the varied artistic numbers. At his back, the famous Ukrainian dancing group Kalena.

My Missionary Memories


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

were sung by the famous local Choir Bento Mossurunga, music by the Municipal Band Emílio Taborda Diez, Maestro being Raulino Bortolini, father of a local priest. A whole galaxy of Ethnic Dancing Groups (6 in all) gave brilliant shows and three College choirs. The organizers – Professora Terezinha Wolff and Professor Adilson Machado, both highly gifted artistic professionals, guided all the items smoothly, using citations from the booklet recently published by Mons. Walter Michael Ebejer, “Meu Itinerario Vocacional”. The Night of Culture was closed with short messages and congratulations and thanks to all who took part, by the Papal Nuncio, Dom Lorenzo Baldisseri, Dom Pedro Fedalto e Dom Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

select photos

View of the Bishop’s residence (partial) and Block One of the new Diocesan Seminary; also visible the big statue of Our Lady on top of the Seminary Church tower.


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Mounted photo, with the Cathedral and Torre Cathedral (cilindrical building) at the back of Bishop Ebejer, on the 40th anniversary of the Diocese and his Episcopal Ordination.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Edifício João Paulo II, the fourth high-rise ordered by Bishop Ebejer to be built on the Cathedral’s ground, next to the old Parish-House of the Cathedral, (the blue house) the spot where the city started to be built around 1917.


Aerial view of the Cathedral, UniĂŁo da VitĂłria, surrounded by the four high-rises on its former terrain; two still unfinished when this photo was taken. At the bottom of the photo, the longuish building of UNESPAR, one of four separate University entities located in the twin Cities, known for their cultural richness and vitality.

My Missionary Memories


Dom Walter, preaching in various parishes of the diocese of Januรกria, State of Minas Gerais, in Central Brazil, on the borders of Bahia State.

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


Bishop Ebejer, between Bishop João Bosco Barbosa de Sousa, OFM, second Diocesan Bishop of União da Vitória (later transferred to the Diocese of Osasco, São Paulo) and Arcbishop Emeritus of Curitiba, PR; Dom Pedro Fedalto, during Solemn Mass of his 60th Anniversary of Priestly Ordination (24/01/1954  Malta  24/01/2014). União da Vitória.

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Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

On the 40th Anniversary of the diocese and Bishop Ebejer’s Episcopal Ordination (6/3/2017), the solemn procession entering the Cathedral for a Mass of Thanksgiving. The third Diocesan Bishop of União da Vitória, Dom AGENOR GIRARDI, at the back, behind Dom Walter, to whom he conceded the presidency of the Mass.


After the High Mass of Thanksgiving, Bishop Ebejer at the side of Dom Agenor Girardi (third Diocesan Bishop of UniĂŁo da VitĂłria), surrounded by a number of priests and seminarians. (24-01-2014)

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Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Photo of Bishop Emeritus Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P. on the occasion of his 60th Aniversary of priestly Ordination (24-01-1954) - Rabat, - Malta; (24-01-2014) Uniรฃo da Vitรณria - Paranรก, Brazil 127

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


The thirty years I spent as diocesan bishop – (1977 – 2007) is a complicated narrative, amongst a population of mixed eastern Europeans: Polish, German, Ukrainian, Venetians, Brazilians and others. I concentrated on increasing the local clergy, the formation of lay leaders and multiplying the number of chapels and parishes. Since 30th March 2007, I became an Emeritus Bishop, but carried on with teaching Philosophy and Theology in our Major Seminary. I have been teaching various ecclesiastical disciplines (Philosophy and Theology) these last 44 years, until 2016, in various dioceses. Now 88 years old, I am over grateful to God for being able to complacently look at the hundreds of priests, sisters and laypersons I have taught, finding among them a Cardinal (São Paulo), several Archbishops and Bishops, Provincials (male and female) and two Superiors General. I almost feel sinfully complacent and unworthy of such fruits; all of which are fundamentally the wonderful works of God’s Grace. Also finally, as Emeritus, for the first time ever, I have had an opportunity to start writing, and have published several books in Portuguese, and preached retreats to many religious, clerics, and seminarians, even in the heart of the Amazon, in the North-East and in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. I have published a book, called “Eu, meu Deus e minha Mula”, about my three years’ missionary work in the State of Goiás (1958-60), widely distributed, still waiting to be translated into Maltese and/or English. Also published, after I translating it from English to Portuguese, my voluminous Lectorate thesis (S.Th.Lect.), presented to the Examiners’ board of the St. Thomas Aquinas Studium Generale, of Rabat, Malta, in the year 1955, entitled “A Teoria Platônica das Formas, com especial referência à Cosmologia no Timeu”, I never found time 129

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to present it for the Doctorate in Rome. I started re-reading it when Emeritus, after over 40 years teaching Philosophy and Theology and found it worthwhile to be published. It has been widely distributed, to the hundreds of Universities and Faculties in Brazil and other Portuguese speaking countries. Also, under the auspices of Cardinal Dom João Orani Tempesta, of Rio de Janeiro, I managed to publish, for apologetic purposes, two books entitled: “50 Conversões ao Catolicismo”, and “Mais Conversões ao Catolicismo”, containing collections of conversion stories publish by Canon João Ciarlò when editor of “Lehen is-Sewwa (Malta)” which I translated into Portuguese, plus introductory articles and studies presented by me. The Cardinal distributed heavily in his area the two books. I am obliged to desist from speaking about the excellent and long service given by several of my Maltese Dominican brethren, because as I lived hundreds of kilometres away from their parishes, I couldn’t follow their work. So, if I tried to mention each and all of their achievements, I would certainly leave out someone, or give false information. This detailed information can be found in the informative book published by Fr. Angelo John Mamo, O.P., entitled “IL-MIXJA TKOMPLI”. Now still working, where and when I am invited, am devoting my time to prayer, preparing myself, expectant, for the Lord of all destinies to call me to meet Him and see Him as He is. Echoing the final words of Pope Saint John Paul II, I repeat in the silence of my heart: “When shall I come to see your Face, my Lord?”


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Bishop Walter thanks all his collaborators and benefactors


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.


Obliged to speak exclusively about my missionary work and memories, I place myself in a situation of giving an impression of personal presumption, as if all this was carried out under the sole inspiration of myself. False impression! I can freely affirm, before God and without subservience; that in all the above situations, I always had the backing of dedicated persons and collaborators, several dedicated beyond the demands of duty, who helped me bring about difficult and important projects. In this area I saw realized what my deceased mother had foretold: - on various occasions she had the habit of predicting future happenings – (I was then only fifteen years old) by saying to me: “during your life you will always have someone taking care of you”. At that time, I used to find it very strange of her this affirmation, blurted out completely out of context, a fact which made me remember it to this day! A Bishop is called to serve his people Exactly now, that at 88 years of age, I find myself as if poised on the brink of death, I find myself obliged to thank all those, during the ups and downs of my life, who did help me and backed me generously. I am perfectly convinced that nobody is an island, isolated, but an individual, yes, resulting from complex relationships, weaving his personal history. With all conviction I can affirm that one is constituted a Bishop, as chief of a diocese, in favour of his diocesans, his people, and not his people to serve their bishop. This, my clear conviction, makes me manifest my profound thanksgiving to the numerous persons who helped and backed me in the great adventure of evangelization; my priests and deacons shared 133

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in their respective areas of the duties of their bishop, and represent Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, in their respective communities. The female religious give witness by their consecrated life of the living Jesus Christ, obedient, poor and chaste, and work in the field of education and social promotion, and are a great help to the clergy and an inspiration to lay people. Also, we thank God for increasing the number of parishes, from 12 to 25, and the diocesan clergy from 18 (only 4 were seculars) to over 40, 25 of them diocesan secular; an increase resulting from the prayers and the vocational apostolate, and the fruit of the work of formation and teaching of our professors at the Major Seminary, an institution occupying the centre of my daily preoccupations. Praised be God, the provider and fountain of so many called to His service. Initially, to start the formation of the diocesan secular clergy, I could count on four priests only: Fr. Abel Zastawny, Fr. Joseph Chipanski and Fr. Estevão Hubert (R.I.P.), the three stationed in the episcopal city of União da Vitória, and also Fr Theophilus Feieraband. I confess that I feel greatly indebted to them! Our Presbyters; our Deacons Our diocesan clergy was initially composed mostly of religious priests, who thus merit our applause and thanks, because they were preparing the birth of the new diocese. I could never detect any sign of division within the clergy, between secular and religious. Presently as a result of the prayers and apostolate of everybody, the number of seculars is clearly superior to that of the religious priests. To these however, go the heartfelt sentiments of gratitude of the diocesan family. We are eternally grateful to them for our existence as a diocese. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, composed harmoniously of many members; all collaborating, also called the People of God. Not even in this Body can the Head pride itself for its own deeds; no individual can make claims alone for his own victories, while building the whole Body. Our people can claim victories, improvements, growth, only as a whole, and so it behoves me to offer my thanks only collectively to its 134

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

members, and consequently join ranks with them to give thanks to God, the fountain-head of all gifts. And so, I want hereby to offer my most profound thanks to all presbyters and deacons who took part decidedly in our common mission and task of evangelization and pastoral activities, with which Jesus Christ encumbered us all together. Unity, mutual respect, our brotherhood were the constant notes reflected in our monthly clergy reunion. Certain occasional reactions which would arise amongst us were always of slight proportions and easily recomposed, especially in the initial period of my style of government. In fact, I never found it difficult to restore order and unity after occasional fits of temper, especially considering this fact, that I had to impose harmony within the ranks of the clergy, coming forcibly together initially from four distinct dioceses. Indeed, looking back, it wasn’t so difficult to unite, weave and harmonize the mentalities and personalities of the members of the newly forged body of clerics, and of female and male religious, coming from four distinct diocesan territories, several nationalities, who at the beginning, were called to be one, or united, only by decree. We managed to forge our new diocesan identity quickly, which was rather surprising. We did humbly recognize that we had inherited a pastoral mission over a newly formed section of the People of God, the very same people, just a part of it, belonging to the same Christ, Priest, Prophet and King of this people. At this stage, we beg pardon to our faithful, for not always having lived up to the expectations of our demanding call. To-day we lament for those among us who have abandoned their ministry and were unfaithful to their momentous promises made to God before our people. Personally, I tremble anguished when I remember that these our beloved, but unfaithful, brothers and sisters, are consistently living, right here and now, hovering over the precipice of their eternal damnation! I frequently pray for their conversion, and that the Good Shepherd show His Divine Mercy towards them at the Final Judgement. It is our duty to pray frequently for the sanctification of our clergy and members of the religious life, and for our seminarians, the future of our diocese.


My Missionary Memories

The houses of female religious in our diocese are a blessing in our midst; and well active among the people, and not only completing the pastoral of the clergy, but also creating their own space of activities. Their presence normally gives backing and a sense of security to the local priests. Their apostolate and institutes help to complete our own presence and activities among the people, forming part of our direct pastoral work. Our beloved Sisters in Christ, the Diocese owes a lot to you and your work! Many, many thanks! The Parishes of the Religion Clergy I have already explained that in the past the presence of religious priests and sisters in the territory encompassed by our diocese, was practically universal, except in our present Cathedral and in our Lady of Fatima parish, already served by secular priests. The Vincentian Fathers administered the parish of SĂŁo Mateus do Sul during various generations, departing only several years after the creation of our new diocese, leaving it highly developed, also materially. The La Salette Fathers, in SĂŁo CristovĂŁo have been directing with great zeal their parish of Our Lady of Salette, to this very day, and also their minor seminary established in their own rural property. Recently, however, this property has been abandoned and sold. The Cappuchin Friars from the south of Brazil, then already existing in their separatist branch, took over and developed considerably the new parish of Our Lady of Rocio, and also taking care of the extensive territory of Bituruna. After years in this situation, the friars, of advanced age remaining in the community, accomplished the feat of reintegrating themselves with the Mother Province of the south Later, the Cappuchin friars from the Curitiba Province, took over for only a couple of years. Immediately after, the Congregation of the Sons of the Sacred Family took over, and presently this big parish is in the capable hands of the Missionary Servants of the Lord, (a new religious institute recently started in Bahia State). They took over, for the time being, also the pastoral care of the Limeira parish.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Fathers of the Society of Christ for Polish Emigrants took over, during many years, four parishes, with heavy Polish migrants prevailing: Cruz Machado, Mallet, Rio Claro do Sul (the Diocesan Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary, officially instituted by me), and Santana, in the Municipality of Cruz Machado; this last parish recently abandoned by the Society of Christ, and by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Family of Mary, after having, during generations, developed enormously a total of 19 dependent Chapel Communities in its vast territory, with an almost entire population of Polish descent, and still speaking their mother tongue. It was a pity! The Verbite Fathers (S.V.D.) during many years administer the prosperous parish of Rio Azul, making it flourishing with vocations (male and female) for themselves, for the diocese and for other religious congregations They are still firmly at their post. After the establishment of this new diocese, the religious institute of the Franciscan Missionary Servants of the Holy Sprint, took over the pastoral care of the brand new parish of St. Sebastian Martyr and administer two social institutes for aged or abandoned male invalids, one quite big and growing, surrounded by forested hills, and recently being graced by adult vocations from other parts of Brazil. During the first years of the Diocese, we received what amounted to a great gift of God, the arrival of the male religious Congregation of the Sacred Family of Nazareth (Piamartinos, from Brescia, Italy) who took over to expand a social project (then interrupted) in the suburbs of UniĂŁo da VitĂłria, to receive and educate destitute children and male youngsters; many are full-time boarders, receiving formation and schooling in their own Secondary School, and some encouraged to enter one or other of the local University Faculties. This Piamarta Institute is now practically administered by their Brazilian members, but heavily financed by organizations from Italy. Together with dormitories, they have buildings with machinery of various professions to prepare their youngsters for a future specialized job. The big area the diocese passed over to them is crowded with their various building blocks. A Godsend! In 1979 this same congregation took over the pastoral care of a new parish, that of the Holy Family of Nazareth, building a spacious 137

Representatives of the religious male and female, of our Diocesan Nucleus of CRB of Uniรฃo da Vitรณria, during one of their regular meetings.

My Missionary Memories


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Parish Church and a Parish House, and the Catechetical Centre; also built the Sacred Family of Nazareth crèche for the local workers’ children. After all this had been accomplished, because of lack of personnel, these priests had to give up the parish. The diocese is greatly thankful to this Italian Congregation (now having numerous local vocations in Brazil), for its past excellent work, and its present heavy contribution. The female Religious Houses Through the influence of the Piamarta Fathers, the Diocese gained another religious female social foundation – the Pallazzolo Institute for girls needing family and educational backing. This congregation initially, had only Italian Sisters, and was called “The Congregation of the Poor”, - now they also have Brazilian Vocations. They built their social institute at the entrance of Domicio Scaramalla’s Bridge, at the main entrance of the city of União da Vitória, where they are doing excellent work among the girls educationally, and other pastoral work in their neighbouring parish-church. The Sisters Messengers of Divine Love entered into the diocese together with me for my Episcopal Ordination Ceremony, taking up immediately the organization of the Retreats of Divine Love, and during years they administered the House of Formation Saint Rose of Lima: the new diocesan building to house its formative activities among the Laity. During many years they were housed near the Our Lady of Fatima Church, also helping in the parish. To-day they are to be found in the parish of Our Lady of Sorrows, in the somewhat deprived area of the vast neighbourhood of Limeira, also helping in the pastoral work of that parish and house visiting, and so on. The Sisters of La Salette for many years have been working with the priests of the same Congregation in the parish of St. Christopher and Our Lady of Salette. They keep themselves fully occupied with their pastoral work, and social activities, even with the local municipality of União da Vitória. In the parishes of General Carneiro and Cruz Machado – two enormous territories, we have two communities of Sisters doing pastoral work, especially catechesis. 139

My Missionary Memories

They are the Catechetical Franciscan Sisters, a Brazilian Congregation first founded in the south of Brazil, and now spread all over, and the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King (Polish), the two settled in General Carneiro and Cruz Machado respectively. Finally, the diocesan family and the local population are enriched with a new foundation of sisters of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Divine Restoration, who at the same time founded the prosperous “Abrigo Santa Clara” in the territory of the St. Sebastian Martyr Parish, to receive and take case of ladies with mental health problems; a very nice setting in a wooded suburban area. Recently they are receiving vocations. They and all religious sisters in our diocese, do merit to be remembered in our prayers for them to receive new vocations. In fact, the famous Congregation of the Sisters of Charity (Vincentian Sisters), years ago was obliged to shut their house for pastoral activities in Mallet, and other two communities working in the São Mateus do Sul: a Hospital and in an old College, in front of the parish Church. They also merit our sincere thanks for their excellent services during generations in our region. Also the Benedictine Sisters, working in the Regional Hospital of União da Vitória, a few years after the installation of the new diocese, decided to abandon their post. Whatever the reason for their leaving, we also thank them for good years of service, and lament their absence. This region is relatively rich in male vocations, but poor in female ones. During my tern of office the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family of Mary, about whom we have written earlier, stationed in São João do Triunfo, Rebouças, Rio Azul, Bituruna and Santana (in Cruz Machado) were the major force in the local female religious life, and together with their pastoral work among their Polish descendants, they established schools, and a hospital. Although they have abandoned their educational presence recently (because of changed social circumstances), their influence is still very great in the diocese.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Laity and their Activities In fact, the diocesan family as a Church, is the Mystical Body of Christ, where we find a great variety of functions and members. With the Formation House St. Rose de Lima ready to be used, we started an intense programme of courses, retreats, refresher courses, reaching even the most distant communities. The episcopal city of União da Vitória became rapidly known as the heart of the new diocese, made up of four territories, disparate in most respects, once belonging to four dioceses: Curitiba (State Capital), Ponta Grossa, Guarapuava and Palmas. I must make public my heartfelt sentiments of gratitude towards those persons who dedicated themselves wholeheartedly and with exemplar regularity in the formation of our laity, young or adults, whether those of distant foundation or of recent inspiration: the Legion of Mary, the Apostolate of Prayer, TLC and mini – TLC (for youngsters), Cursilhos de Cristandade, the League of Catholic Ladies, the Movement of Vocational Chapels, diverse courses of permanent formation, the Diocesan Catechesis, Permanent Formation of the Laity, from which was borne the School for Permanent Deacons, our diocese being the second one in Paraná State to ordain (six) Permanent Deacons, after finishing their five years course, in the year of 1982. All these coordinators and leaders helped their bishop to carry out efficiently this task of evangelization, which helped the airing and revamping of our local faith communities. At this height, I remember with gratitude the efficient and faithful work done by the personnel working in the Diocesan Curia, to make possible this orderly flow of services and complex functions of the Diocesan administration. Also, I thank God for having thousands of Extraordinary Ministers of Eucharistic Communion (MECES), serving with zeal in the more than 400 communities, in their respective churches and Chapels; my very first objective when I took over this new diocese, that is, to eliminate what I called, the “Eucharistic Famine” on Sundays in churches, etc. without a priest. Also we have the numerous collaborators in our task of evangelization of several diverse pastoral areas: Childcare, sobriety, Liturgy, care for old folks, youngsters, Altar boys and girls, and of the Rosary for men, together 141

The public present in the House of Representatives for the farewell ceremony of Mons. Walter M. Ebejer, O.P., as Diocesan Administrator (ad interim) to present him with an Honorary Title for his pastoral leadership these last 30 years, presented by Mr. Cordovan F. de Melo Jr. (sitting first in the corridor, on the right), next to Deacon Carlos Strohmayer on 29th March, 2007. On the left, sitting in the front line, is Mons. Walter, Mons. JoĂŁo Bosco Barbosa de Sousa, O.F.M. (who was to be installed as the new bishop the following day) and the Mayor of UniĂŁo da VitĂłria, Hussein Bakri.

My Missionary Memories


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

with the Vocational Apostolate, Ecumenism, Social Communication (PASCOM). Also we have in full swing the Encounters for Couples with Christ (ECC), the University Pastoral, Seeds of Happiness and the Catholic Charismatic Renovation. An initiative which has functioned well, since the beginning of the diocese are the Retreats of Divine Love, organized for different categories of persons by the Missionary Sisters of Divine Love. Also functioning are the Diocesan Missionary Council and that of the Infant and Adolescent Missionary Society. Our worthy male and female religious have their own Diocesan Nucleus in the Conference of Religious of Brazil, who together with their religious houses for parochial apostolate, have established five valuable social foundations in the city of Uni찾o da Vit처ria, since the beginning of the diocese. They look after poor children and youngsters, derelict girls, those chemically dependent and mentally deficient persons: a veritable richness for a city in the interior of Brazil.

Bishop Ebejer, showing to the public the Diploma of Merit for services done in favour of the city of Uni찾o da Vit처ria; on the left side having the Representative Jair Brugnago, and the other the President of the House of Representatives (Vereadores) Mr. Cordovan F. Melo Jr. Other municipalities bestowed on Bishop Ebejer similar titles of thanksgiving.


My Missionary Memories

The Riches of the Bishop After having been endowed so generously by benefactors as diocesan bishop and helped constantly, I to-day feel, as Bishop Emeritus, obliged to declare clearly that all that I gained personally, that is, as a private person, from friends and relatives, I applied in buying several plots of land as a reserve for building purposes, and an idle agricultural empty area of 10 “alqueires” (each alq. 24.200 mts²), to guarantee their value, during an extremely galloping inflation period in the country; but later, when needed, I sold everything to various buyers, and applied all the money from the sales on the various constructions of the diocese (seminary, church, etc.). I acquired by means of my frugal habits, over the last thirty years as diocesan bishop, a biggish two-storey house, in Jardim Brasília, Porto União, (SC), that I transferred immediately and definitively to the Diocese; more exactly, to the Diocesan MITRE of União da Vitória, through legal document at the local town Office; this in view of my solemn vow of poverty, made in the Order if Preaches, (the Dominicans) at age 21, in England. So to avoid suspicions among the public, I also declare that as Bishop I never kept to myself these last 30 years, the “espórtulas”, dues (tithes) paid by the faithful when presenting their sons to be confirmed, but all the dues were passed entirely to the Diocese and totally applied in the building of the Seminary. All contributions from my relatives in Holland and through their campaigns, and from Catholic sources in Malta, USA, Holy See, Germany (especially Adveniat and others), etc. were applied on the diocese’s property, and entirely declared and set out clearly in our administration’s fiscal registers. To-day I survive in simplicity in the above mentioned house I passed over to the Diocese, at the expenses of the same diocese. Many thanks for your care on my behalf. Therefore, to do away with the groundless preoccupations of certain persons, as regards my accumulated riches (!?), I declare that I have no property of mine, or share in a property, except some personal objects (like books, a type-writer, a TV set, etc.) everything in conformity with the solemn vow of evangelical poverty which I made at age 21, in the Convent of the Dominican friars, at Oxford, Great Britain, when I myself was a Dominican friar, with a different name chosen for the religious life: Frei (Brother) Dominic. The car I use belongs to the diocese. 144

Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Initial Strategy The initial strategy of this humble Bishop, to concentrate our energies on the formation of our laity, gave abundant results. We have already broached this subject before, as an initiative very welcomed by them, frequenting formation courses for all categories of persons, especially those taking place in the House of Formation St. Rose of Lima, and the fruits of these showed themselves immediately in the streamlining of our parishes, movements and pastoral associations. Personally, I was very satisfied with the numerous leaders that surfaced in the communities.

Bishop Ebejer in the House of Representatives of União da Vitória, on the occasion of his receiving the Title of Recognition (diploma) during his last speech as Bishop in charge, while reviewing his thirty years as Diocesan Bishop of União da Vitória, thanking the local population for the welcome, friendship and collaboration he had received from them as to his person and mission, wishing the same good treatment to his successor (present on the occasion - 29 March 2007)

All should come to know, that you, lay persons, are the reason for the existence of the Hierarchy; you people are the reason or fundamental scope for all our preoccupations, according to Christ’s vison. In fact all lay persons, because they are baptized and confirmed, are likewise called to sanctify the world from within: the family, our worldly jobs, education, 145

My Missionary Memories

health and politics, security, and so on; in one phrase, the whole world needs to be cured and christianized from within by yourselves. Thanks to you all for what you are doing for the Church in our diocese. Thank you for your money contributions (together with the considerable financial help sent to us from abroad), to finance our personal and pastoral projects for the construction of God’s Kingdom. The Diocesan Curia Without the faithful collaboration of the Curia officials in the Bishop’s House and the Diocesan Curia, it would have been impossible to make the Diocese function properly. So, at this moment, I want to remember, with sentiments of gratitude, the efficient and faithful service given me by those employed at the Curia, making the complex administration of the Diocese to run smoothly and swiftly. Therefore, I want to thank profoundly all those therein employed, who helped to offer me a welcoming residence for me and for all who called on the Bishop. Among those who offered many years of service, I remember the dedicated Noêmia Lima dos Santos, and Lourdes Pedó, the faithful governess (from 1996 to the present day); and remember gratefully Joana Inés Baida Moreira da Silva, the responsible for the functioning of the Diocesan Curia, and the Episcopal Residence and the smooth running of the Major Seminary, as regards the buying of provisions in general. As chief official of the Diocesan Curia, she was very efficient and dynamic, enjoying my total trust in her honesty and worthiness. Before her, the then young girl Maria Terezinha Ritzmann, in the year of 1983, started the organization of the Diocesan Curia, from scratch, when, very slowly, she started seeing the admission of other female secretaries arriving to take up new posts and duties. To them all, I give here witness to their efficiency at work.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

The Lay Leadership in the Diocese Remembering the great number of lay leaders active in all sectors, it is not possible to mention all, by name; so as not to commit injustices; I have decided to mention only two in this National Year of the Laity, being celebrated in Brazil. It is important to know that the Laity, like the Hierarchy, is an essential structure of the Church, because it is envisaged as another essential structure of Christ’s Church, the principal scope of the pastoral activity of the Clergy. In fact, the Mystical Body of Christ necessarily includes all its members… without the Laity there is no Church! When I came to the diocese, I found Mr. Ulysses Antônio Sebben entirely engrossed, body and soul in the Commission composed of local Church and civic authorities, preparing and organizing the projected diocese of União da Vitória, taking care of statistics and correspondence with the authorities of the Church, presenting statistics and other information about local conditions; in a word, presenting documentation demanded by the Apostolic Nunciature in Brasília, and conserving all documentation involved, and maintaining the local public opinion informed, until the positive confirmation of the new diocese by the Holy See. Together with many other collaborators, he organized the celebrations of the Installation of the Diocese and the Episcopal Ordination of the first diocesan bishop. With others, he saw to it that the demands of the Nuncio as to all the building of the Episcopal Residence and the House of Formation, St. Rose of Lima were faithfully me. All this work, independently of his pastoral work, also at a national level in the Serra Movement and in the Cathedral and elsewhere. Also later he was ordained as permanent deacon in the first group of six deacons, by me prepared over the years, and ordained. Another layman of great distinction was the now deceased wood industrialist Joseph Nelson Dissenha, a practicing catholic, a great benefactor and a leader in the local society, also involved in work with the Cursilho de Cristandade Movement, who inspired me later during a private conversation in the Bishop’s Residence, with a lapidary affirmation of his. “The Diocese was made by us, laypersons!” 147

My Missionary Memories

If this affirmation is questionable from a theological point-ofview, I accepted willingly and understood perfectly its proud assertion as to the material installation, although we had later to face several serious reservations as to the lay-persons’ realizations when they tried to meet the material demands of the Apostolic Nuncio. Here go my thanks for the enormous contributions given for the life and the material and spiritual progress achieved by the young Diocese of União da Vitória, to those our courageous lay-men and women actively occupied in the hundreds of communities formed by them with enthusiasm. My Spiritual and Religious Life With fraternal gratitude I remember the warm welcome to me personally, as religious belonging to the Province of Malta, by my brethren of the new Brazilian Dominican Province, although I had to live far away and isolated. A special mention is merited by my two protector Saints: St. Joseph, and my religious Father, St. Dominic of Guzman, both invoked by me daily in my prayers, for the paternal protection offered me all my lifetime. In a special way I would like to pay homage to Our Lady of the Grotto, preserved about five centuries in a Grotto, under the Church of the enormous convent of the Dominican Friars, in Rabat, Malta. Only three days old, I was immediately taken by my parents, after being baptized in the Dingli parish church to the nearby town of Rabat, to be consecrated to our Lady of the Grotto - a chapel in a below ground Cave, all covered with fine marble slabs and designs. Its imitation, a marble statue taken out in procession yearly, a few years ago, was seen as having shed tears of human blood, a miraculous happening, tested and confirmed scientifically in laboratory, whose devotion was approved officially by the Holy See. A small marble image hangs permanently on top of my bed for years. In that Church, I served as an altar-boy since seven years old, when the Mass answers were still in Latin. In that Church, later I received the Dominican religious habit at age 16, after secondary Schooling at the


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

Lyceum. In the same Church, I was later ordained priest at 24 years of age, after an absence of four years studying in Rugeley, and Oxford, (England). Also in that convent, I wrote my thesis about Plato’s Theory of Forms, to present for the Lectorate Degree in Philosophy and Theology. When already Bishop Emeritus, in Brazil, I translated it into Portuguese, and the book was widely distributed to hundreds of Universities and Faculties in Brazil and Portuguese speaking countries. May Our Lady of the Grotto accompany my life to the end! So that, all the good accomplished during my life-time, everything pondered, proceeded from the good God, the merciful Creator, Father and Saviour; to Him all glory forever! I want to thank my parents for my life, for my Christian up-bringing, my brothers and sisters, relatives, friends, catechists, teachers, superiors, brethren and spiritual directors in my Dominican religious conviviality, and to all the collaborators in my personal and missionary life, my many friends, male and female, who show me sincere friendship, although I never had the time to repay them with visits or correspondence, to repay their friendship and love, since I always gave priority to my principal scope as missionary consecrated to the religious life: “Salus Animarum”, “the salvation of souls”, sentiments that have devoured me all my life. Gratitude, for me is a very important virtue, and most valuable and noble, the basis of my spiritual life, and results in faithfulness until the end of life! For many years I offered daily prayers for these loved persons, especially during the recitation of my Breviary, and the daily Mass, which are the basic elements of my life of devotion, including the Holy Rosary, and of my faithfulness to my God-given calling! However, the mysterious closeness, beyond our understanding, is the actual sustaining presence of God as Creator, and at the same time, preserving us in being, and providing for all His creatures; the Same accompanying me and taking care of me at all moments of my existence. (In Him I stand, by Him I come to exist and stay alive). How I feel strongly in me His loving presence, favouring me and being present in all stages of my life! Now, well advanced in years, I have a feeling of being


My Missionary Memories

caught up in Him and penetrated by Him. In fact, also the result of my dreamy distractions and speculations, as former Professor of Dogma and Metaphysics, I am now fully convinced that God is right now and always was, all the time, in every fibre of my being, and that He possesses me more deeply than I do myself! So only the evil, disordered sin is our one property! As St. Paul said: “by the grace of God, I am what I am and the Grace of God in me was not in vain�.


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

So thanks to you, my Lord, One God in Three Persons, for the gift of life and my religious vocation, especially my missionary calling and the opportunities given me to do good deeds, until the very end!


My Missionary Memories

yes, even the crepuscular nightfall might then still serve to shed some light, until the end!

After having gone through my own past and that of my collaborators I felt a need to manifest, as a final and conclusive wish, that expressed by the Psalmist, in psalm 26,4.

To the Lord I beg Him only one thing, and it is only this, that I desire: to be able to live in the Sanctuary of the Lord for all my lifetime, cherish the suavity of the Lord and contemplate Him in His Temple!

glory, honour and praise to god, for ever and ever, amÉm!

the end

Dom Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P. Bishop Eméritus of the Diocese of União da Vitória, Paraná Member-founder of the Academia de Letras do Vale do Iguaçu - ALVI Brazil 27th, October, 2017


Dom (Mons.) Walter Michael Ebejer, O.P.

INDEX MY ORIGINS .............................................................................................. 7

first part MY MISSIONARY LIFE IN THE STATE OF GOIÁS .....................11

second part MISSIONARY IN THE STATE OF PARANÁ ................................... 35

third part LIVING IN PONTA GROSSA ............................................................... 47

fourth part MISSIONARY ON THE BEACHES OF MATINHOS ................... 49

fifth part IN A SUBURB OF CURITIBA............................................................... 53

sixth part MY EPISCOPAL MINISTRY .................................................................. 55

seventh part SPECIAL DIOCESAN CELEBRATIONS ............................................ 87

eighth part Select Photos .......................................................................................119

nineth part PAST MEMORIES ....................................................................................129

homages and thaksgiving ........................................................133


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