Issuu on Google+

Preca Calling

Issue no. 67


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel

† Verbum Dei caro factum est

Editorial As rightly expected this edition of Preca Calling features the activities held throughout the year marking the anniversary of the death of the Founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine, M.U.S.E.U.M., Saint George Preca.

Societas Doctrinæ Christianæ M.U.S.E.U.M. Tel: (+356) 22290333 E-mail: info@sdcmuseum.org Homepage: http://www.sdcmuseum.org Issue no. 67

Contents 2 The Drummer Boy

4 The Enduring legacy of St George Preca 6 Why are you here? 9 Outreaches in Durres 10 Kenyan youths have their say

© SDC MUSEUM, Malta.

14 My peace I give you 16 The SDC Youth Meeting 20 God and nothing else 21 A letter from an Aspirant

Design & Printing: Veritas Press, Malta

22 Christmas in London 23 The Society in 2012 PRECA CALLING is published by the Society of Christian Doctrine, M.U.S.E.U.M. with articles on the spirituality of the Society and a review of its activities during the preceding year. Front Cover Picture: ‘Halted’, Ivan Grixti, 2012. (see p.28)

Anniversaries bring with them loving memories, the sharing of experiences between the young and old as well as a sense of nostalgia among those who today cannot contribute in the same manner as they used to when they were younger. Apart from celebrating, the Society also sought to take this anniversary as an opportunity for spiritual formation and renewal. Celebrations come and go, whilst events of formation and renewal can leave a lasting mark in the life of persons. An initiative in the first months of the year was a series of seminars for groups of Members of the Society on particular themes of the spirituality of Saint George Preca. A sizeable audience from the general public accepted the invitation by the Society for a symposium with the theme: The World needs Witnesses. An unforgettable evening was a prayer vigil for members of both sections of the Society which was held at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy, Naxxar, on the eve of the anniversary. This coincided with the visit of eleven young members who had been invited to Malta from the Society’s Centres of Albania, England, Peru and Kenya to participate in the activities close to the 26th of July. The anniversary was also commemorated in England, Australia, Cuba, Poland, Peru and Kenya. The Society invited to Malta the Dominican theologian Fr Paul Murray to deliver a conference on 25th October with the theme: A surviving radiance; the blessing and challenges of living faith today and another on 27th October, to male and female members and candidates of the Society, on Catholic Spirituality; five memos for the new millennium. As time drifts away from the years of Saint George Preca on earth, may he continue to inspire us in our spiritual journey so that in turn, we inspire others with our vocation and lifestyle.

1


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus

The Drummer Boy Written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941, The Little Drummer Boy is one of the most popular Christmas carols of all times. It has been interpreted by hundreds of choirs and singers amongst whom Bing Crosby and David Bowie in 1977. My favourite version, however, is that by Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries as interpreted in the Christmas concert of 2011 for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. This carol evokes in me all that I associate with childhood: simplicity, innocence, generosity, joy, spontaneity and unpretentiousness. But the little drummer boy reminds me also of Oskar Matharazt, a fictitious boy created in 1959 by the German author Günter Grass as the main character in his novel The Tin Drum. Oskar was born in 1924 in the port of Danzig, today Gdansk, in Poland. When he was born his mother promised that on his third birthday she would buy him a tin drum. The three-year-old Oskar, with the tin drum hanging from his neck, decided to stop growing up so that he would have nothing to do with the adult world. With his precocious mind, at three years of age, Oskar had already understood that because of the ambiguous relations of his mother, he could never be certain who his father was, and with his deep blue eyes he had already noticed the beginning of the destructive march of Nazism. Penetrating, glass-breaking screaming was his protest against the adult world, but at the age of twenty-eight Oskar ended up in a mental hospital. Children’s fate does not lie inside the crackers that they pull open in parties but in the world they are born into. In a local paper I have recently read a news item that really tugged at my heartstrings. A nine-year-old boy tried several times to commit suicide. This sad news was not the only one of its kind that I have ever read. But all news about children who are somehow abandoned, abused,

2

kidnapped, raped or mutilated, really saddens me because I know well that children who do not find a world of love, security and trust end up being disturbed and confused without the ability to cope. However, a few days later, I have also received the news of the death of an 85-year-old man who dedicated every minute of his life to create a world of wellbeing, hope and joy for thousands of children. He was neither the first nor the only person who did this, but I knew this man closely and he persuaded me that a life fully dedicated to the wellbeing of children is a life worth living. As much as the fate of children lies in the world they are born into, the fate of the world lies in the children born in it. “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” This is the way in which the American sociologist Neil Postman starts his book The Disappearance of Childhood. Postman goes on to show how in our western culture childhood is disappearing; carrying away with it those qualities we associate with childlikeness. Besides the fast-decreasing birth rate,


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel the distinction between childhood and adulthood is also fading away. This is happening not only in the style and manner of dress, food, games, entertainment and language of children, but also in sexuality and crime. The media and market forces drive all this along, but adults are accomplices and children end up as victims of the ambiguity of this culture. As Elizabeth-Anne Stewart writes in her book Jesus the Holy Fool, “Here in the West we have either held that “children should be seen and not heard,” completely overlooking the possibility that they may have something of value to contribute, or else we have treated them as “miniadults”, hurrying their growth with designer clothes and adult forms of entertainment, as though their very childishness is problematic.” In a certain sense these attitudes are confirming what theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar once wrote in his book Man in History, “Everywhere outside Christianity the child is automatically sacrificed.” The child is sacrificed on the altars of the economy of the country, the vested interests of politicians, the profits of business companies, the ambitions of parents, the deviant pleasures of disturbed adults, and on a thousand other altars. That this happens also within the Church is a tragedy not only for the child but also for the Church. It is a tragedy for the Church because, as Timothy Radcliffe states in his most recent book Taking the Plunge, “When we bring a child to the font to be baptized, we are entrusting him to Christ, forever the child of Bethlehem and the eternal Son of the Father. We are praying that this child may indeed have a childhood and so become an adult of God with something of Christ’s fresh spontaneity. At the font we commit ourselves to build communities in which children can grow in confidence and whose trust in adults will not be abused.” It would also be a tragedy for the SDC if it were to stop considering children as its greatest treasure, the way it has been doing since its very beginning. The spirit of the SDC, in the words of Dun Ìor© himself, is “to keep children close to its heart just as Christ, our Lord and Master, embraced and blessed

them; and to do it’s utmost through teaching and watchfulness to protect them from predatory beasts.” Children in the SDC are always considered a blessing and never a burden and the doors of the SDC Centres are always wide open for them. Children are welcomed with joy and sincere love. Children are cared for and cherished for who they are. The SDC Centres should be, in Neil Postman’s words, “an act of rebellion” against a culture that is betraying the child. Dedicating one’s time and energy daily to the welfare of children without expecting any recompense is already an act of disobedience, if not also an insult, to those who treat children as objects of personal gain. Teaching children to be cautious in their words and manners, to control their impulsivity and delay gratification, to be modest in dress and disciplined in behaviour, to play without competing, to limit their exposure to the media and to be critical of what they see and hear is a form of resistance to many of the social trends of the culture we are living in. According to Postman those who resist these modern trends would be contributing to what he calls the “monastery effect” because, like the monasteries of the Middle Ages, they would be helping to keep alive a humane tradition that promotes man’s true dignity. Natalino Camilleri sdc Superior General

3


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus

The Enduring Legacy of St George Preca

St George Preca who often preached that ‘we will not be on this earth forever’ and on the shortness of life, went to his eternal life on 26 July 1962 in his birthplace, Malta. His funeral was a testimonial to his life; as thousands of people gathered to catch a final glimpse of the man so well loved. Many recounted extraordinary stories about him, and were ready to proclaim his sanctity. People spoke of the charisma which passed from him to others at the touch of a hand, leaving them strangely calm and peaceful. Now 50 years after his death we reflect on the legacy of this recently canonised saint and the relevance of his ideals to the modern age.

to commit themselves to Christ in the monastic tradition. Fr Preca organised the Members of his institute to participate in the active life of the Church. His house-keeper noted that he would often burn the candle, as he lived a life of absolute poverty, late into the night - preparing his sermons or writings specifically for his Members. His wish was to educate in love for God and neighbour, and he did not spare himself any effort in achieving this ideal.

It is this closeness to God which he translated into a humble service of spreading God’s word which is the legacy that Fr Preca leaves to us. This desire to love and please God and imitate Jesus Christ in everything is what he also wanted for others as well. In fact he wished that all the people of the world live by the teachings of the Gospel so that Jesus Christ becomes more known and loved. In our different walks of life, we are called to be custodians of these desires and dreams; to continue the legacy of St George Preca.

A legacy of closeness to God Well before the Second Vatican Council, Fr Preca appointed men and women to evangelise, preach and promote the Gospel in Malta. This remarkable priest opted for a way that was unheard of in the early 1900s - teaching the people so that they were confident in their faith, even when challenged. This was at a time when the laity had not yet been officially recognised in the mission of sharing the Gospel. He inspired many of the faithful

4

Members and Associates gathered at St Mary Star of the Sea, Melbourne, for the St George Preca Mass.


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel A legacy of peace A key to this desire for closeness to God is peace within one self. It is a virtue that God repeatedly wishes on humanity. Scripture reinforces this on numerous occasions – the angel’s dialogue with the shepherds at the birth of Jesus, ‘On earth peace among those whom God favours!’ (Luke 2:14) and Jesus’ greeting to his distraught and terrified friends just days after his death, ‘Peace be with you’ (John 20:19) are just two examples. However in the present era when the human heart is faced with unprecedented options that can potentially be overwhelming, fragmenting and depressive, peace is a treasure that every heart yearns, yet so often remains elusive. Fr Preca would compare the restless human mind to a stone rolling down a hill or to a squirming fish out of water. Some are never satisfied and so they cannot have enough. Many who are rich want to be richer. Others who have some authority want more control over people. If one experiences some pleasure in life, one can demand that life be a string of successively more gratifying experiences. Fr Preca, in response to this elusive prized treasure of peace, would simply point to his divine teacher and quote “My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives”. (Jn 14:27) It is not the peace that a consumerist world can give but rather the peace that only God can give. All that a person needs is an open heart, a willingness to

Members and Associates gathered in prayer at the monument of St George Preca in the grounds of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

listen and a readiness to pray; as exemplified by Fr Preca himself. The repeated prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, grant me your peace” opens the heart to receive this gift from God. One needs to believe that God can give peace to those who pray patiently for it. A heart that can stay still and mediate on this prayer can delve deep and confront any crisis. If one perseveres in the prayer for God’s peace, slowly but surely, God will give the searching soul awareness of its present reality. ‘We are just pilgrims on this earth and we are not meant to stay here forever’. Undue material attachments or a hurt or grudge that a person is unable to forgive are simply excess baggage that prevents us from experiencing God’s peace and closeness. Poverty and

Meekness are two virtues that Fr Preca extensively preached and wrote about. Letting go of unhealthy stubborn attachments and forgiving others leads to a profound experience of peace; God embracing his sons and daughters in God’s peaceful presence. Embracing George Preca’s legacy The 50th anniversary of St George Preca’s death has enabled the Preca Community worldwide to hold him dear to their heart, to celebrate accordingly and to reflect on his teachings and ideals. His legacy and enthusiasm is still alive and remains effective. Mark Micallef Australia

5


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus

“Why are you here?” It’s always the same order of questions: “Who are you?” “Where do you come from?” “Why are you here, in Poland?” We have got used to this pattern and our answers flow out almost automatically. Basically, the answers for the first two questions are quite straightforward. However, the last one is more demanding. How are we to answer this question? What is the mission of the Society in Poland? How could the Society be of service to the Church in Poland? Religion and faith in Polish history The Catholic faith in Poland has a thousand-yearold history initiated with the baptism of Duke Mieszko I in 966AD. Since then, Poland has always been a fervent Catholic country, giving numerous saintly figures to the Church including a Pope – Blessed John Paul II. Together with language, faith has always been a uniting factor among Polish nationals living either on home soil or spread out all over the world. It’s not speculative to say that faith and culture are so intertwined that for most of the time they seem one and the same thing. This was even more true whenever there was some sort of persecution in Poland. Faith and language helped Poland survive its 123-year absence from the map, that is, during the partitioning of the country between Prussia, Russia and Austria until the end of World War I in 1918. They also helped Poland persevere the 44-year communist-atheist rule. During this period, faith and the Church were the driving motors behind the formation and rise of Solidarnos´ c´ , the first workers’ (trade) union behing the iron curtain, which together with the election of Kard. Karol Wojtyła to the Papacy, led to the fall of communism, first in Poland, then in all of the eastern European block.

6

Pozna´n cathedral

Religion and faith in contemporary Poland That was however in 1989, more than 20 years ago and reality has changed a lot since then. Once there was a common, visible enemy, which brought the people closer together and to the Church, acknowledging it as a truly spiritual and social leader. Nowadays, the enemy is still common but not visible any more. Like most of the developed countries, Poland is facing the multifaceted social enemy which goes by the names of: consumerism, hedonism, secularism and various other ‘–isms’ which are dissolving contemporary society. Church attendance on Sunday has plummeted to an average of 41% in 2010 and only 16% receive communion during Mass. On the otherhand, crowds still pace silently around the graves in


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel the cemetries in November and the churches are relatively full for the pre- or post-Mass service: Marian celebrations in May and the Rosary in October.

five-year Masters university studies in Theology, while in most secondary and all high schools, catechism is delivered by young priests who are not yet parish priests.

Not the same could be said for the Mass attendance before or after these celebrations, which on the other hand leaves much to be desire. Almost everyone visits the ‘Grave of Our Lord’, i.e. the Holy Sepulchure, on Good Friday. The vast majority of families still want their children to receive the sacrament of First Holy Communion, even if they are not regular churchgoers. Essentially, the symptoms are those of a traditional, cultural and superficial religiosity and a general decrease of a deep-rooted, convinced faith.

On the otherhand, in most parishes, there are monthly meetings for parents of children who are preparing to receive First Holy Communion starting a few months before they receive the sacrament. Candidates for Confirmation also have monthly meetings for three years before they are 16 – 17 and thus ready to receive the sacrament. These meetings are usually conducted by the vicar and in some cases by lay persons such as members of the neo-catechumenal movement, something which is not looked well upon by many priests and also lay faithful. Apart from these meetings, youngsters are also obliged to attend several other times to church, such as for the Sunday Mass or other celebrations during the year. Participation in these occcasions helps them fill up the booklet with signatures from the priest, which then they have to present in order to receive the sacrament of Confirmation.

In Poland the priest is still an important figure in the community, especially in the village and to a lesser extent in the city. The teaching of catechism is predominantly done at school and the Religion teacher is called ‘the catechist’. The overwhelming majority of catechists in primary schools are women who have finished

Mass following a Marian pilgrimage

7


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus Poland is a fertile land for Religious Orders, with more than 60 and 140 different male and female Orders respectively. The country also hosts 25 different Secular Institutes. Seeing these figures some obvious questions immediately crop up: is there really the need for another kind of apostolic life in the Polish Church? Does the Church in Poland really need the SDC? Is there a place for SDC in Poland? These questions take us back to the very beginning: Why are you here? Why Poland? For me the most important and fundamental answer is: we are here because God wants us to be here... now. There can never be any empirical proof for this conviction. However, looking back at how the SDC found its way to Poland and what has happened since our arrival here two years ago, its as clear as day – for those who believe – that God wants the SDC to be in Poland. Secondly, we are here to live as SDC members. This means that being SDC members in Poland we live out our vocation faithfully while incarnating the charism of the Society in a new reality and culture.

A celebration for polish youths

We do this by integrating the five dimensions of the SDC vocation in the everydy life reality they are living in. This is the best service which the SDC can and has to give to the Church in Poland – having members truly and authentically living out their vocation. Hopefully, if and when God wants, He will call others to live out this vocation, following the example of those who will be living it in their same culture and reality. We are still at the very beginnings. We are still in the period where the foundations are being laid, first of all by learning the language and understanding the culture. Thank God, this year we also started experiencing more of the true life in Poland by slowly getting into the reality of work. What’s going to be next is still unknown to us. How will the SDC be active in apostolic work within the Church? We still don’t know. But we are sure, that He knows. And this is enough for us. Just as He has shown us the way till this point, he will definitely indicate the way forward in the future, show us what to do when it’s time to do it. For the time being we strive to do our best at what we are doing now and pray: “Lord show us what you want from us and help us do it.”

A society activity in August 2012

Anton Grima Poland An arial view of Korçë

8


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel

Outreaches in Durres Taking advantage of the Maltese Dominicans’ presence in Albania, the Korçë SDC Centre has been organizing a number of outreaches in the port city of Durres. Durres is the second largest city of Albania, lying on the central Albanian coast, a 4-hour drive from Korçë. The Dominican parish serves a number of villages in the outskirts of Durres. The Maltese Dominicans have always welcomed us and given us different opportunities related to our catechetical apostolate. The latest one of these outreaches happened in the end of November 2012. Since the 28th and the 29th were public holidays on occasion of the 100 years of Albania’s Independence, we

took a break from our activities in Korçë to organize a number of meetings in Durres. The first half-day meeting saw 90 boys and girls attending. The main talk dealt with the time of Advent which we were about to start. Then during the crafts session they constructed a simple advent wreath out of carton and paper. A presentation on the life of Mikele Magone then followed, thus presenting a model for the Year of Faith. After the celebration of the Eucharistic, the day was concluded with games, organized by the Candidates. In the next two days’ meetings 70 pre-adolescents and 20 youths attended. The main presentation included three short biographies of three saints – Saint Maria

Goretti, Saint Domenico Savio and Saint John Bosco. The pre-adolescents, in small groups, were then invited to come-up with a short drama depicting a situation from everyday life where they are challenged to live their faith. These were then presented in the plenary meeting. The youths were given a number of questions related to how they can live their faith. These were also then discussed in the plenary group. These three days again showed us that the harvest of the Lord in Albania is ripe and waiting. Let us thank the Lord for these opportunities and pray that He calls more workers. David Dye Albania

9


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus

Kenyan youths have their say Youths at the Society’s Centre in Ruiru, Kenya were pleased to answer these questions put to them by the Superior of the Centre, Oliver Aquilina, to be published in the Preca Calling. 1: In the year 2013, Kenya will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of Independence. What do you wish for your country and its people in this memorable anniversary? BRIAN CHEMWEY: I would like to thank our Lord for the far he has taken us as a country and also as a Society and for giving me this opportunity to write on this magazine: Preca Calling. My first wish for our country is for love among the citizens and leaders as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Independence. I pray for love among our leaders as they continue to lead us since they were given

10

the authority by God to do that. My second wish for this country is for peace and unity among the citizens and leaders who in turn should preach peace wherever they are. My third wish for this country is for peaceful elections that would be held in March 2013. I hope that our leaders will take the result of the elections as fair and true. Lastly I would wish for God’s guidance amongst His people in Kenya. We ask for God’s leadership on our ways and His protection from all evil in our life. May the peace of the Lord be with you all! THOMAS KIOKO: Firstly I would like to thank the Almighty for if it was not for His grace I would


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel not be alive today. Our country has experienced a long time of peace although in 2007 elections we experienced violence where many lost their lives and homes and children where left orphaned. The Lord has been with us because all this has passed and I would like pray to God so that we will not experience that again. As we approach the year 2013 may we have peace during our elections and elect good leaders. Peace be with you! 2: Many readers have never been to Africa, let alone Kenya! How would you describe the people of this nation, their culture, traditions, religion, and daily way of life? DISAH TITUS OWEGI: Peace be with you all! Kenya, being a country in East Africa has 42 tribes. The most popular tribes are: Agikuyu, Luo, Kalenjin and Luhya and this is due to their participation in active politics. Many tribes in our country practice agriculture and fishing which are the main sources of income to many Kenyans to sustain their lives. The 42 tribes are divided into three groups, namely: Bantus, Nilotic and Cushitic. The Bantus evolved from the Congo Basin while the Nilotic originated from South Sudan and Cushitic from the horn of Africa. Most tribes in our country practice Christianity but a few from the coastal region practice Islamic religion. In this region people try to live in peace and appreciate one another. Some tribes, mostly the Bantus practice circumcision which is the stage from childhood to adulthood. Other tribes like Luo remove their lower front incisors during initiation rites, whereas some tribes unfortunately still practice female circumcision. With those few remarks about the people of our country I can say that it is a privilege to come to this beautiful country Kenya. Thank you for your time. 3: During your holidays, how do you spend your free time? Do you enjoy any hobby? Which books do you like reading most? BRIAN MURITHI: My hobby is playing Rugby and I enjoy my free time playing this most beautiful

game. Sometimes I also watch Rugby games. Regarding my reading, I like reading Biology books, or novels. For my future life I am planning to become a doctor so that I can help the poor. Unfortunately some of them cannot be medicated because of lack of money. I pray to God that he can help me realize this dream. Peace be with you. PETER MWEA: First I would like to take this opportunity to thank SDC Members and also my fellow Aspirants for the good unity we have in our group. During my holidays I usually spend my free time with my books. The books I like reading most are Catholic books about the saints and also school text books. I also enjoy my hobbies playing and watching football with my friends. I also enjoy watching movies here in the Society. 4: Do you aspire to go to college or University after concluding Secondary School? Which area of study interests you most? Which challenges must you overcome to reach your aspirations? STEVEN KALUNGU: I am an Aspirant from SDC Ruiru and I would like to join a University of my choice after completing my secondary education. There at University I would like to pursue a course in engineering. Although attaining this dream is a big challenge, I would like to reach there by overcoming some obstacles that I find in myself like: laziness in reading, bad company which ruins good morals and also poor behaviour. I know that God will help me to reach my goals let my dream become true. Peace be with you all!

11


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus 5: After concluding Secondary School, do you wish to keep attending the SDC? Why? PETER KYEGO: Not only attending the Society but also being a Member if it is God’s will. Sometimes I face many difficulties that hinder me from attending the Society but I try to overcome them because it is in the Society where I have been taught how to be a responsible person in my work, choosing the right friends and most of all leading a spiritual life. Something else that I learned from the SDC was that I should have limits in everything I do. These changed my life because I used to oversleep and miss the morning Mass and then I started waking up early and attend Mass when I can. PAUL NDIRANGU: After I conclude Secondary education, I would like to continue attending SDC because I would want to teach young teenagers on how to live their lives according to the way Jesus showed us. I will do this by encouraging teenagers who have been engaged in drug addictions or those who do not go to Church and I will try to keep in

12

touch with them. Here in Kenya we have so many youths who are lost in many things, if you talk to them not all will listen but if there is a place like the Society you find that some will change. My aim in the SDC center in Ruiru is to change the lost teens. 6: How long have you been attending the SDC, and why do you keep on coming? VICTOR MTAI: It is now a month since I became a family member of the Society. The reason that made me join the family is the understanding, loving and welcoming environment of the Society. The Society has strengthened my faith through daily prayers and improved me morals through guidance and counseling together with moral teaching from the Bible and the Saints. It has made my days end in a cheerful way since we play, learn and play together as one family. The instructions and guidance of the Superior and the Catechists have a great impact on the lives of Candidates, Aspirants, Elects and Preparatory classes. I pray to God through our Saint George Preca to give the Members strength and guidance


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel to continue to work in the Society. I am very grateful to God for helping me discover the Society. May the peace and the love of Jesus Christ be with us all. JOSEPH MANII: It has been twelve years now since I came to the Society the first time and thanks be to God I had a very nice experience here! There are several reasons that kept me coming. The first one which I treasure in life is the teachings that I heard in the Society daily. This made young people see God in me because there are several youths that would approach me to explain certain Bible verses and some would also come to ask for advice. 7: Which activities you participated in and remember most in the SDC? JOSEPH ONEYA: Playing football and making new friends in SDC are some of the moments which I will cherish in my life for a long time. I also remember the trips and outings that were organized for us as soon as school closes so as to accommodate even those who study in boarding schools. The seminars which were organized during the months of April, August and December contributed a lot in my life thereby leading to spiritual growth. Furthermore I personally enjoyed watching movies without forgetting the daily lessons which ran from Monday to Sunday with the exception of Wednesdays. Truly, attending the SDC center has left beautiful moments which will remain clear in my mind for many years to come. 8: In which ways does the SDC help you to become a better person and an exemplary Christian? JACK OMONDI: To begin with I would like to thank God for bringing the Society here in Ruiru and also for inspiring Saint George Preca to start the SDC. The SDC have been of great help to me and the other Aspirants. First of all the Society has

helped me to progress in my spiritual life. Since I started coming for the classes my faith has greatly increased. This has helped me to acquire some Christian values. During school holidays we usually have seminars in which we learn a lot from resident Members and other Members who visit us from Malta. The SDC helps me to live an exemplary Christian life in many ways. Firstly, through the daily lessons and seminars we learn important Christian values which help me in my journey of faith. Secondly, what makes me practice the values which I learn in SDC is the badge. Since through the badge the people know that I come to SDC they expect me to have good manners. That helps me to become a better person daily. Peace be with you! JOSEPH ONEYA: The SDC has helped my by instilling in me humility which is one of the most important virtues in life, furthermore attending the SDC daily has contributed a lot in my life to have a strong faith in God and praying at all times as Jesus Christ commands His disciples in the Bible. Also, the Society has encouraged me to help those in need like prisoners, widows and the sick that are in hospitals.

13


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus

“My peace I give you” A reflection on the 50th anniversary of the death of St George Preca 50 years ago Saint George Preca rested in the peace of his heavenly Father on the 26th of July, feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim. For 82 years he lived in awe of the happy moment that he would see face to face the face of Jesus which is the delight of all the saints. Now 50 years after this heavenly encounter one wonders what the legacy of this recent saint is. What would Fr Preca say to our present times? I imagine that he would just say one simple thing. He will just repeat the starting and ending phrase of the good news “Peace be with you”. This is what the angels said to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus “On earth peace among those whom God favours!” (Lk 2,14) and this is how Jesus greeted his distraught and terrified friends just days after his execution “Peace be with you”. In the present era when the human heart is faced with unprecedented options, that potentially can be overwhelming, fragmenting and depressive, peace is the one treasure that each heart yearns for. How sad it is that people live in a state of perpetual depression or hyperactivity because they get stuck in a rut of endless selfpreoccupation. Fr.Preca would compare the human restless

14

mind to a stone rolling down a hill or to a squirming fish when out of water. One is never satisfied and so one cannot say that is enough. If one is rich one wants to be richer. If one has some authority, one wants more control over others. If one experiences some pleasure in life, one demands that life should be a string of successively more gratifying experiences. Peace is such a universally priced treasure but yet so elusive. Why is that? Fr Preca would just point again to his divine teacher and quote “My peace I give to you. I do not give it to you as the world gives it.“ (Jn 14,27) It is not the peace that a materialistic world can give but rather the peace that only God can give to those who strive for peace. All that one needs is an open heart, a willingness to listen and a readiness to pray; to ask as a child asks from one’s parent. The repeated prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, grant me your peace” is an antidote for the present malaise. One needs to believe that God can give peace to those that pray patiently for it. Unfortunately patience is not a modern virtue and less so when mental pain seems unbearable. In a frantic need of a quick fix many resort to medicine. Anti- depressants,

The dream of Fr Preca, Joseph Pulo, 2012

as relieving as they may be, can only ease the symptoms, not the root cause of the problem. A heart that can stay still and just mediate on this prayer can delve deeply and confront the real crisis. If one perseveres in the prayer for peace, slowly but surely, God will give the searching soul awareness of its present plight. One is just a pilgrim on this earth, everyone’s days


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel are numbered. Attachments to anything but what leads to God is unnecessary. It is just tiresome baggage that one needs to let go of. As hard as it may be to be generous to let go of what one has, it is harder to let go of one’s own will and perceived needs. One can choose to keep doing one’s will and become more depressed. On the other hand one can choose to let go and desire to surrender to the will of the heavenly Father. This is an uphill lifelong journey which would definitely be easier had one the grace of a wise guide. The ultimate challenge to attain this state of self-detachment is to forgive one’s enemy and to love them even when they seem not to reciprocate this love. Only then may one be surprised at any moment with the feeling of swimming in a sea of peace or flying like an unassuming butterfly in a gentle breeze. This is the gift of peace given to the true sons and daughters of the divine Father.

St George Preca and the Patron Saints of the Society of Christian Doctrine, Joseph Pulo, 2009

For the believer it is not a mere coincidence this year 2012, just on the 50th anniversary of the death of Fr Preca and the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Church has

decreed a year of faith. “Faith is the cornerstone of all”. It is only through faith that one can celebrate the peace of God. “Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called

daughters and sons of God”. What else do you need? Peace be with you John Micallef Australia

Exhibition on Saint George Preca A painting exhibition on St George Preca by the Maltese artist Joseph Pulo was inaugurated on Tuesday 24th July at the Auditorium of the Central House of the Society. In his message at the inauguration the Superior General made an appreciation on the particular style of artist Pulo’s works and how they express the characteristics of St George Preca. A nicely presented catalogue of the 23 paintings, with short prayers of Saint George Preca in Maltese and English was published as a memento. Mr Pulo donated to the Society one of the paintings which features in the back page of the Saint George Preca Calendar 2013.

15


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus

The SDC Youth Meeting The idea to invite a small group of young members from the Society’s overseas centres to participate in a week of formation on the SDC vocation sounded like a dream. However this event turned out to be one of the highlights of the programme of activities marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Saint George Preca.

some from the administration of the Society. For the first days the youths were accommodated at the Good Samaritan Home. They visited the Central House of the Society where they met the Superior General, the Regional Superior, the Private Councils of the two Superiors and the Members of the General and Regional Executive Councils.

Preparing for the event

During the first days the youths visited the SDC Centres of Luqa, Marsaxlokk, Si©©iewi and Rabat. They also went on a number of cultural tours to Malta’s capital city, Valletta as well as to Mdina, Óa©ar Qim Neolithic Temples in Qrendi and the Blue Grotto in the limits of Ûurrieq.

The planning of the event included various daring tasks such as agreeing on the dates and acquiring the necessary travelling permits. However the first step was that of formally inviting the youths attending SDC centres abroad and calling for applications for the meeting. The response was very positive and a list of eleven youths was approved by the Superior General; three came from Albania, two from Kenya, three from the UK and another three members from Peru. The youths arrived in Malta on the 24th of July and were welcomed by various members, including

The formation sessions On Sunday the 29th of July the group proceeded from the Good Samaritan Home to Betsajda House in Çirkewwa for a week of vocational formation. During this week they were joined by another twelve ccandidates from Malta that are currently in their final year of preparation before their

Candidates and Members at Betsajda House, 29th July

16


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel Incorporation in the Society. The themes chosen for reflection during this week – from Monday, the 30th of July to Saturday, the 4th of August – were the following: ‘Jesus, my model’, ‘What is the SDC charisma?’, ‘What is the SDC spirituality?’, ‘Our Founder, St George Preca’, ‘From Identity to Mission’, ‘Citizens of the Kingdom’ and ‘Looking towards the future’. A day in Gozo On Friday the 3 of August the group of candidates spent a day in Gozo. The programme for the day included mass at Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, a cultural tour and time for swimming. They also had an informative meeting in Nadur with the General Executive Council of the Society. The day closed with a lively programme in the Xag˙ra centre which included a presentation about Gozo, sport activities, a bar-be-cue and some sing-alongs. rd

Meeting the relatives of the SDC members that are attending abroad Sunday the 5th of August gave the opportunity to the eleven youths to be present at a high Mass in Latin at St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, said by Monsignors of the Cathedral with the participation of the Cathedral Choir. The youths then proceeded to the Floriana Centre for a bible study session. In

the evening they were welcomed at a get-together for parents and relatives of the SDC members that attend the centres overseas. Later on the group joined the members of Lija who were celebrating their village feast – the transfiguration of Christ or ‘is-Salvatur’ (Christ the Saviour) as it is popularly known in Malta. The youths’ impressions Having reflected on the experience, the youths wished to share their feelings about this visit. ■ Çlirim Matraku, Marius Bakiu and Daniel Vili from Albania wanted to thank the Superiors and the whole Society for the chance they were given to share their experience with others. They were very impressed by the large number of beautiful churches which show a strong Catholic faith as well as the SDC centres and the unity that exists between the members. The organisation of the daily routines and the way in which the members and the candidates cooperate happily together and with great will left a positive mark. They were convinced that this example will help them to move one and, with the help of God, to arrive as well. ■ Kelvin Mwagi from Kenya was very satisfied with the experience that turned out to be one of

Programme at Xag˙ra Gozo SDC Centre

17


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus the most exciting in his life. Being in a foreign land and meeting foreign people was his biggest worry before he and George, his fellow candidate, left their country and families. He couldn’t get to grips with the idea that they were actually coming to Malta! One thing that struck him after this 15day experience was the generosity of the members and the kindness of the different families and family members that they met. He felt so much encouraged to keep on being generous with God through the Society. He strengthened in him his personal motto: “Do not lose hope since God is in control”. Since his visit to Malta he has not yet stopped sharing this wonderful experience with the people he met, most probably never will! ■ George Oloo, also from Kenya, recalls the theme of an old hymn that they sing back home: “We are one in the spirit”, a conviction that we members of the Society of Christian Doctrine also pray during the Union every Sunday afternoon: one God, one Spirit, one Faith, one Baptism, and one Heart. According to him the entire experience in Malta showed this picture in its widest sense. Although they came from different countries and cultures they were united by the same spirit, that of St George Preca. He felt encouraged in knowing that someone

his age whether in Latin America or in Europe was trying to live the same spirit he was living in Kenya. For the first time in his life he felt convinced that those people who leave their families, friends and homeland for the sake of the Gospel lose nothing, but receive greater things! He concluded that he will always treasure this experience that he had in Malta, since it led him deeper and with more convinction to live happily in the SDC vocation. ■ Carlos Achulli Solar from Peru wanted to share his experience since his first encounter with the SDC members. He has been attending the Centre for seven years now. He feels that there is a striking difference between hearing someone talk about the Founder or teaching Catechism classes about our Society and actually visiting the country from which everything originated – it’s like talking about the moon and the planets and actually visiting it! He felt at home in the Centres at Malta like in his centre in Peru; he feels that his ‘SDC family’ has been enlarged through the sharing of joys and jokes with the members, candidates and children here in Malta. His vision of the SDC has changed a lot and he feels more part of it all. For Carlos this was, still is and will remain an unforgettable experience: the centres;

Closing Ceremony at the auditorium

18


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel

the formation week with its interesting subjects and reflections in Çirkewwa; the old members’ residence (Good Samaritan Home); the Founder’s house; the Mother House, the beautiful sea and the jellyfish that I met while swimming! The memories from this experience have made an indelible mark in his life. He is also studying Peru so that he can communicate better with anyone from Malta who may wish to visit his country in the future. Carlos has great hopes that he will continue to reap the fruits of this experience for a long time. ■ Making friends with the old members at the Good Samaritan Home was a lovely experience for Victor Gomez Herrera from Peru. For him, the eldery were proof that when someone strives in his work he will definitely persevere. Apart from that living with the young candidates was for Victor like living with brothers. They shared the same joy, especially the Maltese candidates who this time round had foreign candidates visiting them, rather than they going abroad. Victor was impressed by the kindness and generosity showed by all the members that they met, and whose encouragement to keep going was beneficial.

He also enjoyed the short stays at the centres that they visited where they experienced a lot of joy through coming to know so many children, youths, candidates, members and superiors from the adminitration of the Society.The visits to the landmarks related with the Founder where also enriching: his house, his death bed, his shrine, his priestly robes and others. ■ Santiago Aiquipa Torres from Peru was equally impressed by his opportunity to visit the Mother House in Malta and to have such a beautiful experience with the SDC candidates and members in Malta. He felt grateful to the Lord because these were two weeks in which he came to know the Founder better and to deepen the Founder’s ideals. He was also impressed to see the children participating in the meetings, they joy when they arrived at the centre as a result of the joy in their hearts and happiness in the Lord. He felt happy that he came to know candidates from Albania, England and Kenya who shared their experiences in their own countries and the example of all the Maltese candidates who were so joyful and enthusiastic.

19


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus

God and Nothing Else Some years before passing away, Saint George Preca delivered a retreat at the Society’s St. Michael’s school and he spent the whole day explaining the theme: “God and nothing else”. This thought ought to stimulate us to refrain from a never-ending activity that may severe the contact with Him who should be the centre of our hearts. In our daily life we could seek to live intensely this theme and teach others about it according to the Founder’s wish.

should be the centre of our lives.

We would be mistaken in our apostolate not to give enough attention to God, even if we are engaged in performing things that in themselves are praiseworthy. It may also happen that our activity alienates us from God, who

In our life we should impart to people what is essential, that which others cannot give to them. We ought to be aware that the Founder’s wish was that people leave enough space for God in their lives. In fact he was

The daily troubles and the dayto-day activities should not hinder us from nurturing a sense of discerning God’s will for us. It may happen that we are affected from the spiritual malady that Thomas Merton, in his book Seeds of Contemplation, labels as ‘efficiency”. This may be seen in all sectors of life where people struggle in working for unimportant things while forgetting what is essential.

The “language of God”

fond of repeating: “God and nothing else”. This implies that there should be reflection and examination about whether we are creating a space for God in our lives, in our centres and in the Society in general. It is imperative that all apostolate be done in a manner that unites us with God in such a way that he becomes the centre of our lives, while remembering at the same time how Saint George Preca used to emphasize the importance of right intention in spiritual life. When it is fitting, we ought to impart the thought “God and nothing else” to those whom we meet, so that many people leave more space to the Divine.

  In his homily during a solemn Mass celebrated at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu, Gozo on Friday 27th July 2012, H.G. Bishop Mario Grech spoke on “the language of God”. The Mass was presided by Bishop Grech on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of St George Preca. The Bishop stated that by its nature, man’s heart is open to God. Whilst talking about God in our times can make one sidelined, if not ridiculed, we should take the example of Saint George Preca, who talked on God with fervour and conviction. Bishop Grech exhorted all to imitate St George Preca in practising this “language”. The Bishop explained how, using this “language” with its correct “grammar” can be very relevant in today’s environment. He mentioned practical examples where one can use this “language”, ranging from the family to other sectors of society.

20


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel

A letter from an Aspirant My experience in the SDC It was back in 2008 when my friend Boniface introduced me to the Society where I was warmly welcomed. From the very start I felt like I was home, even though it was tough for me because I could not keep up with the catechism I was learning and I did not know the prayers that the others knew by heart. Yet my biggest problem was that I didn’t know how to read or write, but I found a lot of encouragement by the members. As days passed by, I heard a voice inside me calling me to attend at the SDC Centre as much as possible. I used to feel so much at home when I walked into the SDC compound and a kind of a vocation was stirred in me. I want to thank our Founder, St George Preca, for starting the society and I want to pray to ask the Lord to show me if this could also be my vocation, so that one day I will be incorporated as an SDC member. The SDC have helped me to learn many things about saints, about Jesus and about his mother Mary. The saints have tried to do their best to imitate Jesus Christ and this is a great example for

us. I also pray that our heavenly mother, Mary, will guide me and protect me now and in my future. Although my experience in the SDC was good and marked with so much fun, yet it also brought to me a number of difficulties. When I joined the SDC some of my friends left me, others spoke ill of me and turned their backs at me. Even some members of my family didn’t understand why I was frequenting the SDC so much. Unfortunately, I had to break my relationship with a number of friends I previously had. To conclude, I want to encourage all Aspirant to attend the SDC as much as possible because the Society is like a treasure that you have in your hands. One should be proud of this treasure and take every possible opportunity to try to help as many people as possible, who today, unfortunately have either lost God or simply lost hope for their future. Like Paul, Jesus is calling us too to preach to these Gentiles the Word of God, to evangelize to them so that they can start to believe or change the ways that they are leading and turn to Jesus, come to know him better and eventually love him. Julius Klainaina Kenya

21


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus

Christmas in London Christmas is usually a happy time for most Christians. It is centred on the birth of a child and so, appropriately, is child centred. Easter is a greater celebration but is adult centred; difficult for children to truly grasp as death and resurrection are hard, if not impossible, concepts for them. My experience of Christmas in London is very different from my usual Christmas in Australia. There Christmas Day is near the longest day of the year. The weather is warm and the school year has finished and people are looking forward to their long holidays. In England and other northern hemisphere countries the opposite is true. The day is at its shortest and the weather is cold. The ‘feeling‘ of Christmas is very different. The SDC is dedicated to the Verbum Dei caro factum est, the great mystery of God becoming human and living among us. In a secular place such as this the windows are decorated by snowmen, trees and other secular decorations. Few signs of the nativity are seen in the streets or homes. Therefore the members try to put the Infant Jesus into the homes of the people it comes in contact with. These are mainly the children in our catechetical classes that we conduct in four parishes. In our last class for the year we

22

present them with a crib or 21 cm. baby Jesus in a manger to put under their Christmas tree. For older children we make plaster plaques of the Holy Family or Mother and Child to put onto walls. During the Christmas Novena we showed one group the cartoon video of St Nicholas to try to emphasise the Christian connection of the commercialised ‘Father Christmas’. The virtue of giving gifts rather than of receiving them. Jesus is God’s greatest gift to us. We in our turn give gifts to God by our love and care for others around us. As processions are impossible to get permission for in a car dominated environment the London centre has a tradition of holding a Christmas choral session near the very busy underground rail station of Brixton. Here we have a life sized manger and Child on the footpath whilst the members

lead children and parishioners in singing some well-known carols. We have musicians to accompany us and each year we pray that the weather is kind to us. I was amazed last year to see notes of money being put in the crib even though we do not solicit donations. We pray that passers by are reminded of Jesus as they visit the large shops in this area whose emphasis is on business not Jesus. Afterwards we return to Holy Rosary Hall nearby and have a party, games and distribution of gifts to the children. We hold sessions for adults and youths during Advent to emphasis the scriptural background of the nativity so as to deepen their understanding of God’s plan for our redemption. Finally to celebrate the birth of our saviour on Christmas Day after the church ceremonies the members, away from their families, have a meal and spend the day together in fellowship. The next day is followed by the special programme of St Stephan which we hold in our SDC house and invite older youths to join us. A fitting end that for adults emphasises sacrifice even in this joyous season. A matter for mature reflection. Joe Gatt England


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel

The Society in 2012 The events of the Society in 2012 were characterised by the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the death of the Founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine, M.U.S.E.U.M., Saint George Preca, whilst the Society continued with enthusiasm its apostolate wherever it is present. THE ADMINISTRATION Regional Chapter (Malta) 2012 - The Regional Chapter (Malta) was held on 13th and 14th October 2012 at the Good Samaritan Home, St Venera. It was presided by the Superior General. The delegates analysed and approved reports drawn by the Regional Executive Council on the Region’s Boards and Commissions. The proposals submitted by Members were studied in detail and decided upon. Extraordinary General Chapter 2013 - The announcement of the Extraordinary General Chapter for both Sections together, scheduled to open on 1st April 2013, was read by the Superior General of the Female Section Mary Chircop on 7th November during a special meeting for Members and Candidates of the two Sections of the Society. Superior General Natalino Camilleri then delivered the talk for the occasion wherein he outlined the scope and the preparation for the General Chapter. New Assistant Superior General - Joseph Abdilla replaced Superior Nicholas Balzan who served as Assistant Superior General for the past three years. During the general meeting of 16th May the Superior General thanked Superior Balzan for the service which he carried out with dedication. Passing away of Abel Giglio and Victor Delicata - The Society mourned the death of Victor Delicata (Superior General 1983-2009) and Abel Giglio (Primarius 1983 to 1994, Assistant Superior General from 1994 to 2002). Victor Delicata passed

away on Sunday 2nd December and Abel Giglio on 19th November. Relocation of Members - A farewell programme was held on 27th June in the hall of St Michael School for Lawrence Caruana, Rainer Bezzina and Robert Gauci who eventually joined the Society’s Centres in Korçë (Albania), Poznañ (Poland) and Sagua la Grande (Cuba) respectively. ONGOING FORMATION Talks for Members - The formation programmes during 2012 focused on the life and spirituality of the Founder. In a series of talks for Members and Candidates, Prof. Joe Friggieri, on 1st February spoke on Dun Ìor©, a teacher and friend of the people; Prof. Oliver Friggieri, on 8th February on The relationship between faith and culture; Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, on 29th February, on St George Preca, buried in history and revived in today’s light; Fr Joe Inguanez, on 15th February on St George Preca, not yesterday or tomorrow, but today; and Fr Ciarlò Camilleri o.carm, on 21st March on St George Preca, monk in spirit, active in apostolate. Members in SDC Centres had the opportunity to share the talks directly via internet.

23


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus Seminars for Members - Four half-day seminars on Saturdays were held at the SDC Central House for different groups of Members. The themes were: on Saturday 23rd June, St George Preca, between the myth and the real person, by Christopher Vella; on 30th June, Humility and meekness in a time of power and might, by Dr Max Cassar; on 7th July, Dun Ìor©  and the Curia: the 1916 Challenging Encounter, by Joseph Abdilla, the Assistant Superior General; on 15th July, Why embrace poverty?, by Rev. Fr Kevin Schembri. Spiritual Direction Forum - The Spiritual Direction Forum continued to meet at a regular basis. The Forum, set up in 2011, is made up of a small group of Members together with the Superior General, who work together on a study of best practices for spiritual direction as prescribed by The Rule and as practised in the Society. 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF THE FOUNDER Symposium - A first-time event for the Society was a symposium held for the general public on 27th April in the main hall of St Michael School on the theme: The world needs the witness of the saints. The symposium consisted of two talks, prayers, and reflections from the audience. The attendance from the general public was very encouraging.

Talks by Fr Paul Murray OP - On 25th October the Dominican theologian Fr Paul Murray was the guest speaker at an event organised by the Society at the new conference hall adjacent to the Good Samaritan Home. The theme was: A surviving radiance, the

24

blessing and challenges of living faith today. On 27th October Fr Murray delivered a conference for Members and Candidates of the two Sections of the Society on the theme: Catholic Spirituality - five memos for the new millennium. SDC Youth Week - Eleven SDC youths from Albania, England, Kenya and Peru were invited by the Society to participate in a week of formation on the SDC vocation during a Youth Week in Malta to coincide with the anniversary of the Founder. Prayer Vigil - A prayer vigil was held on the eve of the anniversary of the death of St George Preca at the Sanctuary of Christ of the Divine Mercy in Naxxar for Members and Candidates of both sections of the Society. Adoration at the Seminary - Priests who regularly meet on the spirituality of the Founder, and guests from the general public celebrated the anniversary of Saint George Preca in an adoration with prayers of St George Preca on 3rd May at the chapel of the Archbishop’s Seminary. A Mass was presided by the Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Society Mgr Lawrence Gatt with a homily by Mgr Joseph Mifsud Bonnici. The Anniversary in Australia - On Sunday 22 July there was a pilgrimage to the Monument of St George Preca in the Cathedral Grounds of Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. Participants gathered at the monument for a reflective liturgy including several reflections on the life and charism of St George Preca. The inaugural ‘Maurice Mifsud Memorial Mission’ entitled ‘The Enduring Legacy


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel of St George Preca’ was delivered by Rev. Carmelo Sciberras from Sydney at the Victoria on Hyde hotel, Yarraville, Melbourne on 24 July 2012. A day of Eucharistic adoration and prayer to St George Preca was held on Saturday 28 July 2012 at the SDC’s Regional Centre, Sunshine North. Masses commemorating the anniversary Thanksgiving Masses were celebrated: in Malta on 26th July at the auditorium of the Society presided by Mgr Lawrence Gatt, the Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Society; in Gozo on 27th July at the Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu sanctuary, presided by H.G. Bishop Mario Grech; in Korçe, Albania, on Sunday 22nd July, presided by Bishop Hil Kabashi; on 27th July in Sydney, Australia presided by Rev. Laurence Cauchi at Preca Centre, Carss Park, in Adelaide at Nazareth Senior College, Flinders Park presided by Rev. Charles Gauci, and at St Mary Star of the Sea, West Melbourne on Sunday 29 July, presided by Most Reverend Vincent Long OFMConv, Auxiliary Bishop for the Western Region of Melbourne.

the Salesian Pontifical University of Rome, together with Professor Ubaldo Montisci sdb had a meeting with the Regional and General Superiors of the Society and their Private Councils. On 24th November H.G. Mgr Charles J. Scicluna visited the chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal on his way to St John’s Cathedral to be consecrated Bishop as the Auxiliary of the Malta diocese.

REGIONS AND VICE-REGIONS Albania - The Superior General visited the Albania SDC Centre and Preca College from 3rd to 8th May. Five Members from Malta visited Albania from 21st June to 4th July for an experience in the Korçë SDC Centre and in Preca College. They participated in the activities of the Centre and carried out maintenance work in the Society premises and in Preca College.

VISITS TO THE SOCIETY Fr Giuseppe Cardamone of the Missionary Servants of the Poor visited the shrine of St George Preca. On 4 June fifty members of the Group ‘Men for Christ’ visited the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Group. On 24th March H. E. Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, visited the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and prayed before the sacred remains of St George Preca. On 11th April, eighteen students from

Australia - In December 2011/January, the Primarius Tonio Caruana visited the Australian Region and participated in the 54th Annual General Meeting of the Australia Region held in Melbourne from 28th December 2011 to 2nd January 2012. On 29th December 2011, the Region gathered with SDC friends and associates to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Regional Centre. A commemorative Mass was celebrated by Rev. Charles Gauci at St Bernadette’s Church, North Sunshine. This was followed by the blessing of a new residence for SDC Members at 80 Westmoreland Road and the blessing of a new altar at the Regional Centre. SDC Members of the Region participated in a Regional Reflection held at Holy Cross Retreat Centre, Templestowe, Victoria. Facilitated by Rev. Charles Gauci, the weekend explored the theme:

25


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus Following in the Footsteps of St George Preca; Nurture the Lord’s Field and Vineyard with Sound Doctrine and Formation.

were well attended, an indication that Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to the country left an impact on the local Christian Community. Malta - In January the Malta Region revised the programme of the course leading to their incorporation into the Society and spread it over four years. First-year Candidates participated in a study weekend on the Founder, whilst the second and third-year Candidates participated in a study weekend on the theme Becoming better Catechists. Various activities were held for adolescents, such as prayer sessions, outings and games for Preps, Elects and Aspirants coming together from all over Malta and Gozo. On Sunday 16th September a programme termed ‘Spark’ was held for Elects and Aspirants at the Auditorium of the Central House with playlets on the life of Saint George Preca.

England - The commitments of the SDC members in London stretched over four parishes: Holy Rosary parish in Brixton, St Andrews Thornton Heath, Virgo Fidelis in Upper Norwood and Our Lady of the Annunciation, Addiscombe. Confirmation classes were held in all four parishes. These were coordinated by the SDC members together with other catechists. On 24th March a group of young people from the Confirmation group led by the Society at Virgo Fidelis Parish recently took part in the ‘Flame Conference’ for about 8000 Catholic young people from all over the country. Kenya - On 21st January the Preca Lending Library was inaugurated in the Ruiru Centre, Kenya. So far the library has around a thousand books from which the Kenyan children and youths can borrow. Six members from the region of Malta visited the SDC Centre in Ruiru, Kenya from 9th to 28th August 2012 to live the daily experience of the Members at the Centre. They participated in the catechetical programme and the Assignment. They also led the monthly retreat and conducted a seminar for Aspirants and Candidates. Cuba - The two Members of the Society of Christian Doctrine, M.U.S.E.U.M in Cuba participated in the Holy Week’s Liturgy at the church of Sagrado Corazon, presided by the parish priest, Fr Paul Buttigieg. The celebrations of the Easter Triduum

26

Poland - Between 20th and 24th February, the Society organised activities for children in St Luke’s Parish in Pozna´n entitled “Akcja Ferie”. The children had Bible meetings as well as time for crafts and indoor games. On the 13th of August, Rainer Bezzina, an SDC member who had been working in the SDC mission in Korçë for eight years, joined the SDC members in Pozna´n, such that now the group is made up of three members. “Happy Together” was the title for a week of activities that the SDC Members in Pozna´n, Poland, organised for the children of St Luke’s Parish. A group of 16 boys and girls aged 8-13 attended regularly in the mornings during the last week of August, for language activities, crafts and camp games.


Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel Peru - In January and February, the Members and Candidates of the Lurin SDC Centre, Peru, gave courses in Bible Studies, Liturgy, Pedagogy, Dogmatic Theology and Spirituality, in the “Vicariado IV” School of Catechists, in the diocese of Carabayllo, North of Lima, on an invitation by Mgr Lino Panizza ofm, Bishop of the diocese. Meanwhile, as in the last eight years, they also gave a helping hand in the “Decanato V” School for Catechists, in Lurin. A weekend retreat was held for the Candidates of the Lurin, Peru Centre from 30th November to 2nd December on the theme: How is the Year of Faith going to help me to strengthen my faith? The retreat was animated by Fr Victor Livori MSSP. CELEBRATIONS

Feast of St Michael - On Saturday 29th September, the Qawra Parish Church was the venue for the programme of St Michael the Archangel, which was held for Members and Candidates from Malta and Gozo. The programme consisted of ‘The Watch of Prayer’. The group enjoyed lunch together and concluded the day at the SDC St Paul Centre. Procession of Baby Jesus - In a benevolent weather on Christmas Eve, young and old in all villages of Malta rallied to the traditional procession, or ‘demonstration’ of Baby Jesus. The day before, the ‘procession’ brought the true Christmas spirit to the busy streets of the capital, Valletta. It was also held in all localities where the Society has its presence.

Incorporation - On Christmas Day Luke Baldacchino, a Candidate from the SDC Centre of Marsascala was incorporated in the Society. The talk for the occasion was delivered by Superior Johann Tabone. Superior General Natalino Camilleri and Mgr Lawrence Gatt, the Ecclesiastical Assistant, also gave short messages at the end of the ceremony.

PUBLICATIONS

St John the Baptist - The feast of St John the Baptist, patron saint of the Society was celebrated on 24th June with a programme for Members and Candidates at the main hall of St Michael School. The programme centred on the relevance of the Saint in today’s culture.

Preca Publications issued a book by Saint George Preca entitled “FTUÓ IL-QALB - It-tielet Ktieb” (With an Open Heart - Vol 3). The SDC Members in Peru translated into Spanish these books by St George Preca: The Popular letter on meekness, The Mansions, The Year of the Lord, The Sanctuary of Christ’s Spirit, The Great Book, The Echo of Friends and The Rules of the Saints.

27


Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus Oratorio on Saint George Preca - On 24th October the Sine Macula choir and orchestra of Safi performed the oratorio Dun Ìor© Preca at the auditorium of the MUSEUM Central House in Blata l-Bajda, for Members and Candidates and guests. The oratorio was also performed in the Safi parish church on Friday 19th October on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the MUSEUM in the locality. The lyrics of the oratorio were written by Mr Paul Callus and the music composed by Mro Tony Pace.

A multimedia presentation, with the theme ‘Dun Ìor©: a point between generations’ was presented to the general public on 3rd October 2012 at the Don Bosco Oratory in Victoria, Gozo and to the SDC Members and Candidates on 24th October 2013 at the auditorium of the Society. The event, with music, song and dance is a prelude to a musical being prepared by the Don Bosco Oratory on Saint George Preca.

The front page of this PRECA CALLING, is a painting named ‘Halted’, by Ivan Grixti, an SDC Member currently in the Poland SDC Centre. The image brings to mind the exhortation of Saint Peter: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

‘Halted’ – a reflection Imagine being suddenly halted, stopped from the everyday routine and asked to stand with your hands up, facing a wall. It may be a moment of suspense and fear, waiting together with others until your turn comes. “What will happen?” “Why did they stop me?” “What am I going to be asked and what am I going to answer?” Many people lived and are still living this experience in today’s world. Many are still being threatened and even killed for giving witness to their faith. Maybe we will not be halted and asked to prove our faith and hope in this way. But surely we are continually provided with similar circumstances where our soul is halted to reflect on the real meaning of life, and in other times confronted to give the reason for our hope and faith. May we always be aware of these providential situations and ready to give an authentic answer that comes directly from the Holy Spirit. Ivan Grixti Poland www.kontempart.com

28


A man of faith enjoys in this world the bliss of union with God. Saint George Preca


Preca Calling - February 2013