MUSEUM San Giljan

Mghallem O li kieku d-dinja kollha timxi wara l-Evangelju tieghek

Dun Gorg - San Gorg Preca

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Imwieled il-Belt Valletta nhar it-12 ta' Frar, 1880, Gorg kien is-seba’ tifel f’familja ta' disa' ulied.

Missieru, Vincenz, ghall-ewwel kien negozjant u iktar tard spettur sanitarju. Ommu Natalina kienet ghalliema. Wahda mill-kugini tieghu kienet mizzewga lil Guze Howard, l-ewwel priministru ta' Malta. It-tfulija ta' Gorg ma kinitx xi wahda spettakolari izda ma kienx jonqos dak is-sens ta' avventura u kuragg li jsawwar is-sinsla ta' kull leader. Darba iddecieda li jgharrex il-kampnar tal-knisja tal-Hamrun, fejn kien mar joqghod izjed tard, u hemmhekk sab lil certu Wistin Pisani li ried juri kemm hu b'sahhtu u dan dendlu fit-tarf tal-kampnar. Gorg tant impressjona ruhu li baqa' jsemmi din l-esperjenza tat-tfulija tul hajtu kollha.

p. Precas dåp

Billi hass li kien imsejjah ghal qassis, mil-Liceo mar is-Seminarju fejn bhala student zaghzugh wera kapacita' fl-istudju, specjalment fil-Latin. hadd ma ra fih xi haga specjali, madankollu triqtu kienet diga mfassla mis-"Sinjur Alla". Fra Diegu, Dun Ercole Mompalao u Dun Alwigi Galea, tliet irgiel spiritwali ghall-ahhar, dehru li kienu mdawwla minn Alla meta bassru dak li kellu jghaddi minnu (Dun) Gorg. Il-kliem ta' Mompalao, b'mod specjali, twettaq ezatt: "Preca", qal liz-zaghzugh, "int ghad tikber u nies li jirrispettaw lil Alla jidhlu f'familjarita mieghek u inti maghhom. Int ghad issib xortik permezz taghhom u huma ghad isibu xortihom permezz tieghek."

It-tattika tas-sigarett

il-Knisja ta' San Gejtanu

Gorg Preca kien zaghzugh marradi. It-tabib tal-familja Preca kellu dubju serju jekk dan is-seminarista zaghzugh kienx se jibqa’ haj biex jiccelebra l-ewwel quddiesa tieghu f’Dicembru ta’ l-1906, ghax diga kien qed isofri minn pulmun marid.

is-seminarju (illum il-Kurja)

Izda Gorg ma mietx. Mhux talli hekk, talli lil missieru u lit-tabib ghaddiehom fl-eta u qabel ma miet ghalaq it-82 sena ta' hajtu. Il-ferh taghna mhuwiex biss ghax ghex hafna izda ghax uza z-zmien tieghu daqshekk tajjeb. Meta kien ghadu seminarista kien imur il-Port il-Kbir, jirkeb il-vapuri barranin li kien ikun hemm, u jintroduci lilu nnifsu mal-bahrin Griegi, Inglizi u Francizi billi joffrilhom sigarett. L-intelligenza u s-sens tieghu ta' umorizmu kien jaghti pjacir lil dawn l-irgiel li kienu jkunu ilhom hafna ma jaraw art u malajr  Gorg kien iwassal lill-udjenza tieghu ghal hwejjeg spiritwali. Mhux ftit kienu dawk il-bahrin li kienu jibqghu impressjonati b'dan il-bniedem gentili li kien tant ifittex b'herqa l-gid ta' ghajru.

It-tattika tas-sigarett kellu juzaha iktar minn darba. Billi kien jaf li kien hemm grupp ta' guvintur li kienu jhobbu jiltaqghu regolarment, jitkellmu u jiccajtaw dwar dak kollu li jitkellmu fuqu z-zghazagh: sports, xoghol u tfajliet, Dun Gorg holoq relazzjoni maghhom. Ghall-bidu gieli warrbuh, izda hafna drabi kienu jilqghuh bi pjacir u bil-mod bdew jaccettaw il-pariri tieghu dwar hwejjeg spiritwali daqs kemm kienu jaccettaw id-diskors tieghu dwar hwejjeg ohra. Dan il-grupp ta' zghazagh li kien jiltaqa' qrib il-knisja tal-hamrun, li l-mexxej fosthom kien Ewgenju Borg, malajr beda jikber u jikber, tant li kellhom jikru post fejn setghu jiltaqghu.

Dun Gorg perikoluz?

Fil-bidu tas-seklu 20, f'Malta bdew jinxterdu hafna ideat rivoluzzjonarji, u ghalhekk il-Knisja kienet toqghod b'seba' ghajnejn fuq kull attivita jew organizzazzjoni gdida, bezghana minn xi taghlim gdid li seta' jtebba' t-tradizzjoni Nisranija tal-gzira. Ghalhekk, meta l-kelma waslet f'widnejn il-Vigarju Mons. Salvatore Grech, li grupp ta' zghazagh kien qed jiltaqa' regolarment biex jitkellem fuq Alla, il-biza' ma setax jonqos. Tant nies kienu qed jingabru biex jisimghu lil dan il-qassis u s-segwaci tieghu jitkellmu fuq Alla b'mod semplici u car. Sa waslu biex jifthu l-Bibbja, ktieb li l-qassisin biss setghu jaqraw, il-lajci ma kinux kwalifikati! X'kien qed jigri? X'kien qed jaghmel Dun Gorg? Kien qed jifforma xi setta eretika bil-mohbi?

Dun Gorg kien konxju, bhalma kienet kull persuna intelligenti ta' dak iz-zmien, li s-sitwazzjoni religjuza tal-gzejjer Maltin kienet ilha li marret il-bahar. Ir-religjozita tal-Maltin, bla ebda bazi soda fuq l-Iskrittura Mqaddsa, kienet imwaqqfa fuq ir-ramel iktar milli fuq il-blat - religjozita li setghet tghib facilment fi zmien ta' maltemp. Festi, murtali, devozzjonalizmu pjuttost dubjuz, u superstizzjoni kienu l-karatteristika tal-Kattoliku Malti.

Ma kienet tezisti l-ebda istruzzjoni kateketika organizzata tajjeb biex teghleb din il-mewga ta' injoranza religjuza. Kollox thalla f'idejn l-isforzi individwali ta' qassisin, li fl-1916 gew imhegga mill-Arcisqof Dom Mawru Caruana biex izuru l-iskejjel kull xahar. Tletin sena qabel Dr Keenan tal-Kummissjoni Rjali Ingliza kien hassu mistaghgeb bl-istat dizastruz ta' l-edukazzjoni religjuza f'Malta. Il-Knisja nfisha, ghalkemm kienet tipprovdi hafna mill-aqwa skejjel privati fil-pajjiz, ma nistghux nghidu li kienet qed tahdem ghal edukazzjoni religjuza organizzata ghall-poplu komuni. Dun Gorg kien tassew hanin fi kliemu ma' l-awtoritajiet tal-Knisja, meta qal biss li "t-taghlim fil-parrocci ma kienx organizzat wisq" ghax fil-fatt f'hafna parrocci ma kien organizzat xejn.

Soluzzjoni ghall-injoranza religjuza

Dun Gorg ghazel triq ohra: li jghallem lill-poplu biex dan isir konvint minn twemminu, anki meta l-mewg jibda jhabbat bla heda. Bil-personalita karizmatika tieghu, mexxa armata siekta ghal Kristu: irgiel u nisa li bla ma jiddistingwu ruhhom mill-poplu komuni, ikunu izda mghallmin u ffurmati fil-hajja spiritwali halli jkunu jistghu jiddu quddiem hbiebhom, u jxerrdu t-taghlim ta' Kristu bl-ezempju fil-hajja taghhom ta' kuljum, kemm fuq ix-xoghol u kemm fit-toroq u l-pjazez. Fi zmien meta l-lajci kienu ghadhom mhux meqjusa bhala importanti fil-missjoni tat-tixrid tal-Vangelu, Dun Gorg refa' lis-segwaci tieghu bir-responsabbilta li jghallmu l-katekizmu. Dan il-grupp zghir ta' zghazagh kiber biex sar is-Socjeta tad-Duttrina Nisranija, maghrufa lokalment bhala l-Muzew jew M.U.S.E.U.M., u llum jikkonsisti f'120 qasam (kif Dun Gorg xtaq li jissejhu c-centri tat-taghlim)  u iktar minn 1100 membru, imferrxin ma’ Malta u Ghawdex kollha u wkoll f’pajjizi ohra.

Tfixkil u Oppozizzjoni

p. Preca underviser barn

Minkejja li llum Dun Gorg huwa rikonoxxut ghall-kobor u ghall-vizjoni tieghu, l-ewwel fazi tal-hidma appostolika tieghu ma' kinitx ward u zahar. Ix-xewk li tela' mieghu minn kull naha kien kotran. Bosta gurnali haduha qatta' bla habel kontrieh minkejja li l-poplu kien ifittxu bl-eluf ghall-pariri tieghu. Dan kollu lahaq il-quccata tieghu meta Mons. Salvatore Grech, f'isem l-Arcisqof Pietru Pace, ordnalu biex jaghlaq l-oqsma li kien lahaq fetah. Din it-tip ta' oppozizzjoni ma kinitx xi haga gdida fil-Knisja. L-istess gralhom fundaturi kbar ohrajn. Dun Gorg, bhal Don Bosco, akkuzawh li kien mignun, u bhal San Filippu Neri ikkritikawh ghall-atti tieghu ta' umilta. L-istess arcisqof li kien sabbat fuq il-mejda jghajjat li qatt mhu se japprova s-Socjeta ta' Dun Gorg, ma kienx se jdum ma jhalli lil Dun Gorg u lis-Socjeta tieghu jahdmu bil-liberta kollha fid-djocesi tieghu.

L-Ispiritwalita profonda ta' Dun Gorg

Jekk hafna mill-awtoritajiet ekklezjastici damu biex apprezzaw lil dan il-bniedem li kien jghix dak li jippriedka, il-maggoranza tal-poplu komuni ghamlet tajjeb ghal dan in-nuqqas billi bdiet tqisu qaddis. Min-naha tieghu, l-ispiritwalita profonda, li kienet tixhed rabta intima ma' Alla, imlietu b'karizma specjali biex jifhem u jmexxi l-poplu ta' Alla. L-imhabba tieghu ma kellhiex limiti fi zmien meta l-klassijiet socjali kienu definiti b'mod car. Il-binja psikologika tieghu, mghejjuna kemm mis-sens komun kif ukoll mill-qari, ghenitu jmur tajjeb ma' hafna inkluz ma' l-ghedewwa. Is-sens kbir tieghu ta' umorizmu u l-ghaqal li kellu ghenuh mhux ftit fir-relazzjonijiet tieghu man-nies, kemm mill-pulptu, kif ukoll fuq il-bank tal-pjazza jew fit-triq. Darba, waqt li kien qieghed fuq lanca sejra ghal Tas-Sliema, ragel li ma tantx kellu simpatija lejn il-qassisin, tella' saqajh ma’ wiccu. Jekk dan il-qassis gentili hassu urtat, lil dak ir-ragel zgur ma uriehx. Minflok, Dun Gorg baxxa rasu u ghall-istghagib ta' dak ir-ragel bieslu siequ, kif gesù ghamel ma' l-appostli tieghu inkluz ma' min tradieh. Izjed tard, dan ir-ragel talab mahfra minghand Dun Gorg u minghand Alla, u qalbu xeghlet mill-gdid bl-imhabba wara hafna snin, minhabba gest bhal dak.

Kittieb Kattoliku Konvint: ghex dak li kiteb

p. Preca forbereder preken

"L-ewwel impressjoni li tohrog mill-qari tax-xoghlijiet ta' Dun Gorg hi z-zwieg bejn zewg aspetti: il-konvinzjoni qawwija u c-carezza fl-espressjoni. It-tnejn jipprezentaw bniedem li jrid johrog lill-fidi tieghu mill-qafas tal-privatezza personali, biex jikkomunikaha lill-ohrajn bla xkiel. Il-fidi hi mbiddla fi stil li jindika certezza, u hi certezza li titfisser b'kelma li hi deciza daqskemm nadifa, lesta biex tiftiehem." (Prof Oliver Friggieri fir-Rivista Dun Gorg)

Dun Gorg kien bniedem ta' energija u dinamizmu kbir. Kif tixhed is-seftura tieghu, Nellie Bartolo, kemm -il darba hela xemgha shiha (Dun Gorg ghex f'faqar estrem) tard bil-lejl biex ihejji l-priedki jew jikteb uhud mill-150 ktieb jew ktejjeb li hallielna. Ix-xewqa tieghu kienet li jeduka lill-poplu Malti fl-imhabba lejn Alla u lejn ghajru, li d-dinja kollha taccetta l-Vangelu (Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus: M.U.S.E.U.M.), u ma kienx se jibqa' lura minhabba xi sagrificcju biex jilhaq dan l-ideal. Fi zmien meta l-kwistjoni tal-lingwa kienet tahraq f'pajjizna, u lsienna ntesa' fit-tilwima politika ghas-supremazija bejn it-Taljan u l-Ingliz, Dun Gorg beda jikteb bil-Malti. "Ghal Dun Gorg, imdawwal mill-figura ta' Kristu fqir mal-foqra, l-ghazla kienet hafifa u awtomatika, u mhux ir-rizultat ta' hsieb fit-tul jew ta' polemika gewwiena. Il-fatt li Dun Gorg haddem mill-ewwel il-kelma Maltija hu ghallinqas fatt doppju: l-ewwelnett, ghazel b'mod naturali l-ilsien li jiftiehem mill-kotra l-aktar semplici; it-tieni ghamel ghazla tipika ta' l-imgiba ta' Kristu nnifsu f'pajjizu... Il-kelma Maltija kienet l-ilsien tal-klassi popolari, l-ilsien tal-haddiema. Ghal din il-klassi Dun Gorg holoq lingwagg religjuz xieraq li jiftiehem u li minnu nnifsu hu kontribut importanti hafna f'din il-fergha ta' l-uzu ta' l-ilsien." (O.Friggieri)

L-ewwel manuskritti imorru lura ghall-1909, u l-kontribut li ta bhala kittieb Kattoliku hu ewlieni u jikseb siwi akbar minhabba l-fatt li kiteb fi zmien meta l-Malti kien imzeblah. Dun Gorg jibqa' wkoll maghruf ghall-metodu tat-tqassim tal-"karti manwali", kif kien isejhilhom - karta stampata li tillustra xi punt tad-duttrina Nisranija li titqassam bl-idejn.

Il-Predikatur

Bhala predikatur Dun Gorg kien imfittex hafna mill-poplu u meta fir-rahal kienet tigri l-ahbar li wasal dan is-sacerdot qaddis, ir-rahal kollu kien iqum u jmur bi hgaru biex jisimghu. Kif kien ikun miexi fit-triqat, b'rasu baxxuta lejn l-art, b'idu mghollija biex ibierek, it-tfal kienu jduru mieghu u l-ommijiet jitolbuh iberkilhom lit-trabi taghhom u l-kuruni tar-ruzarju. Il-karizma tieghu ma kellhiex bzonn kliem, bhal ta' hafna mexxejja kbar. Kellu kalamita ta' attur li kienet tigbed l-udjenzi. Ukoll meta kien ikun sieket, id-dehra ta' wiccu kienet iccaqlaq lis-semmiegha tieghu. Meta kien jitkellem, ma kienx biss dak li jghid, izda l-qawwa ta' dak li jhoss u l-konvinzjoni personali tieghu. It-tjubija tieghu kienet tolqot lill-kbar u lit-tfal, u l-katekezi tieghu kienet izjed qawwija minn ta' haddiehor ghax kienet frott il-qdusija tieghu u mhux l-elokwenza tal-pulptu. Kien jaf kif ghandu jidhak u kif idahhak lin-nies bil-bluhat ta' l-umanita, u fl-ahhar jasal helu helu ghat-taghlima. Kien jaf jaghmel lill-poplu konxju mis-sejha importanti tieghu ta' Nisrani, u filwaqt li kien jurih il-hniena ta' Alla, kien igibu konxju wkoll mill-gustizzja tieghU.

hadd ma kien jithalla barra mill-imhabba tieghu, u ghalhekk Malta u Ghawdex kollha kienu influwenzati mill-hila tieghu li jadatta l-perfezzjoni tal-hajja spiritwali ghall-mara tad-dar u ghall-haddiem. Is-sinjur, il-haddiem tat-tarzna, taz-zibel- kulhadd kien jingibed mill-messagg qawwi ta' din il-qassis li kulhadd irid ibiddel hajtu u jaghmilha tixbah lil dik ta' Kristu. Lanqas ma kien jiddejjaq jiddiskuti mal-Protestanti u l-Ortodossi li kien hawn Malta, fi zmien meta l-ekumenizmu kien ghadu lanqas beda jissemma.

Qaddis f'hajtu, f'mewtu...u wara mewtu

Dun Gorg kien bla dubju dawl f'dawn il-gzejjer, izda, bhalma kien ihobb jghid, "ahna m'ahniex mahluqin biex nibqghu hawn ghal dejjem." F'inzul ix-xemx sajfija Dun Gorg halla dil-hajja, nhar is-26 ta' Lulju, 1962, ghall-habta tat-7.45 p.m. Mewtu kienet mera ta' hajtu. Miet jaqra l-Evangelju, jitlob u jimmedita. Il-funeral kien monument ghal ghemilu, ghax 20,000 ruh imlew il-hamrun biex jaghtu l-ahhar titwila lil dal-bniedem daqstant mahbub. hafna bdew jirrakkuntaw stejjer straordinarji dwaru u kienu lesti jipproklamawh qaddis. Uhud tkellmu dwar fejqan mirakoluz u setghat mirakoluzi li kienu johorgu minnu. Ohrajn qalu li kien habbar il-gejjieni, bhal meta habbar l-Ewwel Gwerra Dinjija minn xahar qabel.

Din l-imhabba lejn Dun Gorg ghadha hajja fost il-poplu taghna li ghadu jzur f'ghadd kbir il-qabar tieghu fil-Blata l-Bajda, jitlob 'l Alla bl-intercessjoni tieghu l-bzonnijiet spiritwali u temporali. Il-kawza ta' beatifikazzjoni ta' Dun Gorg Preca nbdiet fit-13 ta' Marzu 1975 meta l-Papa Pawlu VI ffirma d-dokument li bih awtorizza lill-Arcisqof ta' Malta johrog id-digriet ghall-ftuh tal-kawza u s-setgha li jitwaqqaf tribunal biex jibda l-process. Il-Papa Gwanni Pawlu II iddikjarah beatu nhar id-9 ta’ Mejju 2001, waqt zjara li ghamel f’pajjizna. Il-Papa Benedittu XVI iddikjarah qaddis nhar it-3 ta' Gunju 2007 fil-Vatikan.

l-istess artiklu kif jidher fil-wikipedia:

Birth & early years

St George Preca was born in Valletta, Malta on February 12, 1880, George was the seventh child in a middle-class family of nine. His father, Vincent Preca, was first a merchant and then a sanitary inspector. His mother, Nathalie Ceravolo, was a teacher. George's boyhood was nothing spectacular, but he did not lack that adventuresomeness and courage which form the backbone of any leader. Feeling that he was called to be a priest, he moved from the Lyceum to the Seminary where as a young student he distinguished himself in his studies, especially in Latin.

He was a rather inconspicuous fellow, and yet, God's path for him had already been traced, so that the unexpected began to happen. Three saintly men, the Franciscan Br Diego Bonanno, Fr Ercole Mompalao and Fr Aloysius Galea, (his spiritual director), seemed to have been inspired by God and foresaw what would happen in the not so distant future. Fr Mompalao's words, especially, were to prove wonderfully exact: "Preca" he said to the youth, "You will grow up and will be befriended by people who respect God. You will be blessed because of them, and they because of you..."

Had George's father and doctor known about this prophecy they would surely have deemed it false for George was a sickly youth. There was a very serious doubt in Dr. E. Meli's mind whether the young cleric would live to celebrate his first Mass in December 1906 since he already suffered from a deceased lung.

Preca did not die. He outlived his father and doctor by many years, and had celebrated his 82nd birthday before he died.

As a seminarian, he used to go to the Grand Harbour, board the foreign ships there, and introduce himself to Greek, English and French sailors by offering them a cigarette. His lively intelligence and exquisite humour entertained the men who had been so long away from land and soon the young cleric would lead his audience to spiritual matters. Many a sailor must have been impressed by this gentle man who sought so willingly the good of his neighbour.

The cigarette ruse was to be used again and again. Knowing that a group of youngsters were in the habit of meeting together regularly, St George Preca struck up a steady friendship with them. Sometimes he was rebuffed, more often than not he was gladly received so that gradually his advice about spiritual matters was as welcome and accepted as his chattering on other things. Soon the group of youths who met in the vicinity of the Hamrun Parish Church, chief among them being Eugenio Borg, grew and grew so that a premises had to be rented where their meetings could be held.

In the early years of the 20th century several erroneous ideas were being aired in Malta. The Church kept a wary eye open on all new activities and organisations, fearing lest some novel teaching would permeate and damage the traditional Christian skin. So, when the word came to the ears of the Vicar General, Mgr Salvatore Grech, that a group of youths was meeting regularly to talk about God, the scare was on. This fear was crowned by the fact that many people were flocking to hear this priest and his followers talking about God in a simple and clear way and had even the audacity to open the Bible, a book which priests and not the laity were then deemed qualified to read! What was going on? What was St George Preca doing? Was he clandestinely forming some heretical sect?

Preca was aware, as any other intelligent person must have been at that time, that the religious situation on the islands of Malta and Gozo was, to say the least, precarious. With no solid grounding on Sacred Scripture, the religious feelings of the Maltese were founded on sand rather than on rocks - could easily, therefore, be washed away in times of storm and stress. Festivities, fireworks, a rather dubious devotionism and a fair amount of superstition was all that could be said of the piety of many a Maltese Christian.

No really well-organised catechetical instruction was carried out to stem this tide of religious ignorance. Much was left to the individual efforts of priests. The Church itself, although providing most of the best private educational establishments on the islands, could hardly be said to have prompted organised and regular religious education for the common people.

George Preca Response

St George Preca opted for the other way: teach the people so that they could be convinced of their beliefs, no matter who and what challenged them. Using his charismatic force and personality, he wielded a silent army for Christ: men and women who, without radically distinguishing themselves from common people by dress or uniform, would nevertheless be so well instructed and formed in their spiritual life that they would quietly shine forth before others with their example in their everyday life, whether at home or at work. Moreover, at a time when the laity had not yet been officially recognised as important in the mission of spreading the Gospel, St George Preca entrusted his followers with the responsibility of teaching catechism. His little group of men and women grew up to be the Society of Christian Doctrine (known locally as M.U.S.E.U.M.), and today it consists of about 110 Centres and 1100 members. They teach about 20,000 boys and girls in the Maltese islands, in Australia, Peru, the Sudan, United Kingdom, Kenya and Albania.

Opposition

Despite the now-acknowledged greatness and merit of St George Preca, the early phase of his apostolic work was no bed of roses. rather the thorns that irritated his side were many and sharp. Cried down in the newspapers despite the fact that people continued to flock to him for advice, the climax came when the Vicar General Mgr Salvatore Grech ordered him to close down all the catechetical centres he had opened. These oppositions were no novelty in the Church. Most of the great founders met with the same treatment. St George Preca, like Don Bosco, was accused of being mad, and, like St Philip Neri, was criticised for his acts of piety. The same Archbishop who ordered Blessed George Preca to close down and would never approve of his Society, was soon to give him and his society a free hand over all his diocese, trusting them and confiding in them unreservedly.

His Deep Spirituality

If most of the authorities were slow to appreciate this God-sent man, the majority of the common people made up for this lack by acclaiming him as a saint. On his part, St George Preca's profound spirituality, which witnessed to a close union with God, filled him with a special charism to understand and lead God's people. His fine psychological acumen, drawing as much from his common sense as from his reading, helped him to get along with everybody - even with his enemies. His sterling sense of humour and sharp wit served him on a hundred and one occasions when facing people, whether it was on pulpit, bench or street. Once, while using the boat service provided at Valletta, an anti-clerical man showed his leanings by purposely shoving his foot in front of St George Preca's face. If this gentle priest was irritated, he did not show it. Rather, to the surprise of the smirking man, he bent down and kissed that wayward foot, such as Jesus must have done to Judas at the Last Supper. Unlike Judas, however, this man,s heart rekindled after so many years and he asked pardon there and than from the priest and from God.

On 21st July 1918, Fr Preca joined the Carmelite Third Order, and made his profession in the same Third Order the following year, assuming the name Italic textFrancoItalic text after the Carmelite Blessed Franco of Siena.

A Prolific Writer

St George Preca was a man capable of great energy and dynamism. As his home aide, Nellie Bartolo, testified, he would often burn the candle (literally, for he lived a life of absolute poverty) late into the night - preparing his sermons or writing some of his more than 140 books and pamphlets. His wish was to educate Malta in its love for God and neighbour, that the whole world accepts the Gospel ( Magister Utinam Sequator Evangelium Universus Mundus), and he was ready not to spare himself any pain in achieving that ideal. At a time when the language question was raging in Malta, and our mother tongue was forgotten in fight for supremacy between Italian and English, St George Preca began writing for the public in Maltese. The earliest manuscripts date as far back as 1909, and his merits as a writer have already been recognised. The ingenious method of spreading "manual papers", as he called them - a printed sheet covering some point of Christian doctrine and passed on by hand.

The Preacher

As a preacher St George Preca was much sought after, and when the news ran through village or town that the saintly priest was on his way there, village and town would arouse itself and flock to hear him speak. As he walked through the streets, standing tall and leaning a little forward, with his hand raised in blessing, children would gather around him and mothers would beg him to bless their babies and rosary beads. His power was a thing apart from words, like that of so many - perhaps most - great leaders. When he spoke , it was not only what he said, it was the suppressed heat of personal feeling, personal conviction which enkindled people. Virtue emanated from him, drawing both adults and children, and made his catechizing more potent than the pulpit eloquence of his day. He knew how to laugh and make people laugh at the failings of mankind, graciously drawing the moral at the end. He knew how to make people conscious of their grave calling as Christians, as well as making them aware not only of the rewards and kindness of God, but also of his justice and punishment.

Nobody was excluded from his love, so that all of Malta and Gozo were influenced by his ability to adapt the perfection of the spiritual life for the common housewife and workman. Rich and noble people, Drydock workers, refuse collectors - all and sundry were attracted by this priest's powerful message to reform themselves.

 

His Last Days St George Preca spent the last days of his life in Santa Venera. Undoubtedly St George Preca was a veritable light on these Maltese Islands, but as he himself loved to repeat time and time again to others, "we are not made to stay here forever". With the summer setting sun, St George Preca passed way on the 26 July 1962, at about 7.45 p.m., assisted by the then Parish Priest Fr Kilian Azzopardi O.Carm. Praying and meditating the Gospel to the last, his death was a memento of his life. His funeral was a monument to his deeds, for some 20,000 people streamed to Hamrun to catch a last glimpse of a man so well-beloved.

Many recounted extraordinary stories about him, and were ready to proclaim his sanctity. Some spoke of cures he had affected at a word or glance, others of the mysterious power which passed from him to others at the touch of a hand, leaving them strangely calm and peaceful. Some said that he had foreseen the future, as when he prophesied the 1914 War a month in advance.

The cause for the sanctification of St George Preca was started in 1975, and when his merit will be universally recognised, he will surely be most honoured for his willingness to serve as an instrument in God's hands, an able and humble tool for the revitalisation of the faith of the Maltese Islands which had been first transmitted to us by that other great apostle, Paul of Tarsus.

He was beatified during a Mass held for the occasion in Malta on 9 May 2001 by Pope John Paul II. The beatification miracle involved the healing of an irreversibly detached retina of a member of the Society. Pope Benedict XVI declared him a saint on 3 June 2007.

Gorg Kross Malti... PUR!

cartoon li deher fis-Sunday Times 15.04.07

 

PROGRAMM TA’ ATTIVITAJIET BI THEJJIJA GHALL-KANONIZZAZZJONI TAL-BEATU GORG PRECA

Kummissjoni mahtura minn Mons. Arcisqof Pawl Cremona O.P. hejjiet programm ta’ attivitajiet ta’ thejjija ghall-kanonizazzjoni tal-Beatu Gorg Preca, li se ssir f’Ruma nhar il-Hadd, 3 ta’ Gunju 2007.

L-ewwel attivitajiet se jkunu marbutin ma’ l-okkazjoni tal-Festa Liturgika tal- Beatu Dun Gorg, li ssir fid-9 ta’ Mejju.

Bejn is-6 u t-8 ta’ Mejju, il-fdalijiet tal-Beatu Dun Gorg, li qeghdin f’sarkofagu tal-hgieg fil-Kappella tal-MUSEUM, Blata l-Bajda, se jkunu esposti ghall-qima tal-poplu.

 

Fil-Vgili ta’ Pentekoste, nhar is-Sibt, 26 ta’ Mejju, se jsiru Velja ta’ Talb u Quddiesa kemm fid-Djocesi ta’ Malta kif ukoll f’dik ta’ Ghawdex.

F’Ruma, se isiru tliet celebrazzjonijiet marbutin mal-Kanonizazzjoni: is-Sibt, 2 ta’ Gunju, Lejlet il-Kanonizazzjoni, issir Velja ta’ Talb; il-add, 3 ta’ Gunju, ikun Jum il-Kanonizazzjoni; l-ghada, it-Tnejn 4 ta’ Gunju, issir Quddiesa ta’ Ringrazzjament.

Meta r-Relikwija tal-Qaddis li Mons. Arcisqof se jiehu Ruma ghall-kanonizazzjoni tasal lura Malta, se tittiehed Ghawdex, fejn nhar it-Tlieta, 5 ta’ Gunju, tkun esposta ghall-qima tal-poplu f’Ghawdex.

Nhar l-Erbgha, 6 ta’ Gunju, ir-Relikwija tingieb Malta u tittiehed fil-KonKattidral ta’ San Gwann, Valletta, fejn tkun esposta ghall-qima tal-poplu f’Malta.

Nhar il-Hamis, 7 ta’ Gunju wara nofsinhar, issir Quddiesa ta’ Ringrazzjament f’post li jithabbar aktar tard.

L-Ostensjoni

Kongestjoni tat-traffiku u kjuwijiet
biex jaraw il-korp ta’ Dun Gorg:
Elf jinzlu minn Ghawdex
Fl-ahhar jumejn, Blata l-Bajda kienet qieghda tkun karatterizzata minn kjuwijiet kbar ta’ nies li marru fejn hemm il-kwartieri generali tas-Socjetà tal-MUSEUM biex iqimu l-korp ta’ Dun Gorg Preca, li f’Gunju li gej se jigi ddikjarat qaddis mill-Papa Benedittux XVI. It-Tnejn il-kju ta’ nies wasal sa hdejn l-istazzjon tar-radju tal-Knisja RTK u l-bierah xejn inqas minn 1,000 persuna minn Ghawdex nizlu biex jaraw il-korp. Tfal, zghazagh, adulti u anzjani, fl-ahhar jumejn stajt tarahom fi kjuwijiet jistennew biex imissu xi talba, xi maktur, domna jew xi haga ohra mal-kaxxa tal-hgieg li fiha hemm il-korp ta’ Dun Gorg. Waqt li jipprova jikkontrollaw il-folla kbira ta’ Ghawdxin li l-bierah marru fi Blata l-Bajda, wiehed mill-organizzaturi, minn fuq l-artal ghamel mistoqsija li mhux wiehed u tnejn bdew jitkellmu fuqha fis-sala. Qal li “dan mhux miraklu iehor ta’ Dun Gorg, li 45 sena wara mewtu, mases ta’ nies ghadhom jigru warajh u jfittxuh?”

L-ghadd kbir ta’ nies li marru fil-kwartieri generali tal-MUSEUM, holoq kongestjoni kbira ta’ traffiku fl-inhawi ta’ l-Imsida, il-Belt Valletta u Blata l-Bajda.
L-attivitajiet fil-kwartieri generali tal-MUSEUM, qeghdin isiru biex jiccelebraw il-festa liturgika tal-Beatu Gorg Preca. Ghal din l-okkazjoni s-Socjetà fethet ghal hinijiet twal l-Awditorju fil-Blata l-Bajda fejn hemm espost il-korp ta’ Dun Gorg Preca ghad-devozzjoni tal-pubbliku.

Nhar il-Hadd, it-Tnejn u l-bierah, il-pubbliku Malti ingenerali kien mistieden biex imur iqim lil Dun Gorg Preca f’atmosfera ta’ talb u gabra bejn id-9.00 ta’ fil-ghodu u d-9.00 ta’ fil-ghaxija. Il-bierah xejn inqas minn 1,000 persuna li ngabru mill-parrocci kollha ta’ Ghawdex nizlu bi hgarhom jaghtu qima lil Dun Gorg.

Hafna minn dawk li fl-ahhar jiem marru jqimu lil Dun Gorg Preca, zaru ukoll esibizzjoni li hemm fl-istess bini dwar il-hajja tal-Beatu Gorg Preca.

Crowds pay homage to remains of Blessed Dun Gorg

 

 

A constant stream of people filed past the remains of Blessed Dun Gorg at the headquarters of the Christian doctrine society - MUSEUM - in Blata l-Bajda yesterday.

The corpo santo of the priest who will be proclaimed saint next month is being displayed in a glass case until tomorrow. People can see the body today between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and tomorrow between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

An exhibition on the life of Dun Gorg and the activities of the society he founded is also being held at the auditorium as part of the preparations for the canonisation and the feast of Dun Gorg on Wednesday, the society's superior, Raymond D'Amato, said yesterday.

About 1,000 visitors from Gozo are expected to visit tomorrow evening, accompanied by Gozo Bishop Mario Grech.

On the feast day, Wednesday, Archbishop Paul Cremona will lead concelebrated Mass at the auditorium at 6.30 p.m.

The society is also encouraging people to attend Mass in their parish on that day.

Dun Gorg Preca, who made the Church's moral teaching accessible to laymen and was considered a holy man by many throughout his life, founded the society in 1907.

The first house for the teaching of Christian doctrine was opened in Fra Diego Street, Hamrun. Dun Gorg's humility and holiness was soon to be acknowledged across Malta and Gozo as the MUSEUM opened branches in different villages with lay grown-ups, initially unmarried men, teaching Christian doctrine to young people.

MUSEUM today has more than 100 sections in different towns and villages and has started missions in a number of countries including Sudan, Peru, Kenya, England, Albania and Australia. It has more than 650 members.

The canonisation of Blessed Dun Gorg will take place at the Vatican on June 3. At least 4,000 Maltese pilgrims are expected to attend.

 

Terminologija uzata mis-Socjeta M.U.S.E.U.M.

M.U.S.E.U.M.: it-tifsira li l-Fundatur Dun Gorg Preca ta lill-isem "Muzew" li wiehed miz-zghazagh ghazel biex ikun l-isem ta' din is-Socjeta` gdida, fl-1907. Dan il-membru zaghzugh kellu f'mohhu post fejn jinzammu hwejjeg prezzjuzi u ta' valur (u t-taghlim spiritwali fih valur kbir). Dun Gorg, li kien jiddeletta bil-Latin, ta tifsira usa: Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus (Mghallem mhux li kien id-dinja kollha timxi wara l-Evangelju tiegheK). B'hekk is-Socjeta` hija wahda missjunarja ghax hija msejha biex ixxandar l-Ahbar it-Tajba lil kulhadd. Ufficjalment l-isem ta' l-ghaqda huwa "Is-Socjeta tad-Duttrina Nisranija"

Qasam: Ic-centru jew dar tat-taghlim fejn jiltaqghu t-tfal, iz-zghazagh u l-membri ghal-laqghat taghhom; Dun Gorg ha dan it-terminu mill-hajja tar-raba', fl-inkwadratura tas-sejha ta' Kristu ghall-"haddiema fil-hsad tieghu".

Superjur: Il-persuna responsabbli mit-tmexxija tal-Qasam. Li tkun superjur tfisser li taqdi u mhux li tkun "superjuri" ghall-ohrajn. F'Qasam ikun hemm superjur wiehed. Il-membri l-ohra li jghallmu jissejhu prefetti jew katekisti.

Superjur Generali: Il-persuna responsabbli mit-tmexxija tas-Socjeta` kemm f'Malta kif ukoll barra. Jintaghzel mill-membri b'elezzjoni. Fil-prezent, is-Sur Victor Delicata (li ghal hafna zmien ghallem lill-bniet fil-Knisja ta' Lapsi, San Giljan) jokkupa din il-kariga. Fir-ritratt jidher fuq il-lemin tal-Papa Gwanni Pawlu II.

Socji: Il-membri tal-MUSEUM. Biex tkun socju trid tkun ghalaqt it-18-il sena u gejt inkorporat fis-Socjeta` b'ceremonja apposta.

Prefett: Katekist, membru tal-MUSEUM li jghallem klassi tat-tfal il-kbar

Assenjatur: Kuljum wara l-laqghat tat-tfal, is-socji jiltaqghu flimkien ghal siegha ta' studju u talb.

Il-Kanonizzazzjoni

Il-Laqgha ta' l-Arcisqof Pawlu Cremona mas-socji  14.02.

Wara li fil-bidu ta’ Frar, il-Kongregazzjoni tal-Kawzi tal-Qaddisin approvat il-miraklu li ghandu jwassal biex il-Beatu Gorg Preca jigi kanonizzat, l-Erbgha 14 ta' Frar fil-ghodu l-Papa Benedittu XVI approva d-digriet tal-Kongregazzjoni tal-Kawzi tal-Qaddisin dwar it-tieni miraklu fil-kawza tal-kanonizzazzjoni tal-Beatu.

Pass importanti hafna, li jista’ jwassal biex il-Beatu Gorg Preca jkun dikjarat qaddis din is-sena stess, hu dak li l-Papa ghogbu wkoll isejjah lill-kardinali ghall-koncistorju li se jsir nhar il-Gimgha, 23 ta’ Frar. Waqt dan il-koncistorju, il-kardinali jissejhu jesprimu l-parir taghhom dwar il-kanonizzazzjoni ta’ hames beati, fosthom Dun Gorg Preca. Wara t-23 ta’ Frar tigi ffissata d-data ta’ meta dan se jkun kanonizzat.
F’sala ppakkjata fejn iltaqghu ma’ l-Arcisqof il-gdid Pawlu Cremona, madwar 500 socju tal-MUSEUM, kemm nisa kif ukoll irgiel, inghataw din l-ahbar sabiha dwar il-fundatur taghhom mill-Arcisqof innifsu, fost caqcip kbir u biki ta’ ferh, fosthom minn socji anzjani li wkoll jiftakru lil Dun Gorg Preca haj.

Bit-tbissima popolari tieghu, Monsinjur Cremona ghamel messagg lis-socji prezenti u rringrazzjahom tas-servizz li qeghdin jaghtu fost id-diversi saffi tas-socjetà. Hu spjegalhom kif l-ahbar ta’ l-approvazzjoni tad-digriet tal-Kongregazzjoni dwar il-miraklu flimkien mat-tlaqqigh tal-koncistorju waslulu l-bierah fil-ghodu.

“Irrid nghidilkom li qabel l-ordinazzjoni tieghi, jien u l-Arcisqof Emeritus Guzeppi Mercieca tlajna Ruma u morna l-Kongregazzjoni. Hrigna minn hemmhekk certi li dak li ghadni kif habbartilkom ma kienx se jsehh din is-sena. Il-fatt li dan se jsehh, gej anke mir-rieda t’Alla. Hu Alla li jrid li mhux biss pajjizna, izda l-Knisja mad-dinja kollha tibbenefika mill-kanonizzazzjoni tal-Beatu Gorg Preca”.

Wara l-laqgha, is-socji prezenti hargu jitkellmu dwar din l-ahbar, min jistaqsi lis-superjuri tas-socjetà dwar jekk hux se jkun iddikjarat qaddis fil-festa tieghu f’Mejju jew inkella aktar tard din is-sena. U min staqsa jekk hux se jkun ikkanonizzat f’Malta, kif gara meta gie ddikjarat Beatu. Ghal dawn il-mistoqsijiet, s-Socjetà wiegbet li m’ghandhiex dettalji s’issa.

Il-kwistjoni dwar meta l-Beatu Malti se jigi ddikjarat qaddis, kienet qieghda tintrabat mal-fatt ta’ jekk il-kaz tieghu hux se jigi deciz fil-koncistorju li kellu jsir qabel Marzu. Li kieku dan il-koncistorju ma ddiskutiex il-kanonizzazzjoni tal-Beatu Gorg Preca, ma kienx se jkun hemm cans li dan jigi ddikjarat qaddis din is-sena. Il-fatt, izda, li l-koncistorju se jiddiskuti u jesprimi l-parir tieghu fuq il-kanonizzazzjoni, hemm possibbiltà tajba li l-Beatu Gorg Preca jigi ddikjarat qaddis din is-sena.

Mistoqsija li hafna jaghmlu hi dik jekk hux se tigi ripetuta x-xena li ghadha stampata f’mohh hafna meta Dun Gorg Preca gie ddikjarat beatu f’pajjizna fil-prezenza tal-Papa Gwanni Pawlu II. Fuq dan ftit li xejn hemm taghrif s’issa, ghalkemm min huwa midhla tal-process qed isostni li l-kanonizzazzjoni aktarx issir f’Ruma, ghax hi prattika li dawn isiru hemmhekk.

Fuq dan it-tieni miraklu, kien nhar it-Tlieta, 9 ta’ Jannar, 2007, li l-Kardinali u l-Isqfijiet tal-Kongregazzjoni tal-Kawzi tal-Qaddisin approvaw il-miraklu li se jwassal biex il-Beatu Gorg Preca jigi kanonizzat. Dak in-nhar il-membri tal-Kongregazzjoni ltaqghu taht it-tmexxija tal-Kardinal Josè Saraiva Martins.

Fil-laqgha li Mons. Arcisqof Cremona kellu mas-soci tal-MUSEUM il-bierah issemma l-fatt li meta Dun Gorg beda l-oqsma, l-Isqof ta’ dak iz-zmien kien waqqfu u Dun Gorg obda immedjatament.
 

L-Arcisqof Cremona, tkellem dwar dan ukoll u qalilhom li “Alla l-imbierek ihalli toroq ghal nies bhal Dun Gorg. Alla jaf li l-gerarkija kultant tista’ tibda tibza’ titkellem jew iccaqlaq id-dghajsa. Dun Gorg kien profeta qabel zmienu u l-profeti jigu biex icaqilqu. Ghalhekk meta Dun Gorg beda jitkellem, il-gerarkija bezghet li se jiccaqilqu xi affarijiet. F’dawk is-sentejn, sakemm il-gerarkija approvat li jitwaqqfu c-centri, kienu l-aqwa sentejn ta’ Dun Gorg, ghax hemm spikkat l-umiltà u l-ubbidjenza tieghu. Kienu sentejn ta’ purifikazzjoni u dawn huma l-aqwa tal-hajja tieghu. L-ubbidjenza u l-karizma ta’ Dun Gorg wasslu biex l-Isqof jibdel fehmtu”, qal Mons. Cremona.

Sadanittant il-miraklu li sehh bl-intercessjoni tal-Beatu Gorg Preca jmur lura ghal Lulju 2001, xahrejn wara li Dun Gorg Preca gie ddikjarat Beatu mill-Papa Gwanni Pawlu II, fit-tieni zjara pastorali tieghu f’pajjizna.

Il-kaz hu ta’ tarbija ckejkna li ftit jiem wara li twieldet, zviluppat kumplikazzjonijiet fil-fwied. It-tarbija ttiehdet l-Isptar San Luqa fejn giet ezaminata u nghatat attenzjoni minn pedjatrici Maltin. Madankollu, il-kundizzjoni taghha marret mill-hazin ghall-aghar. Dan wassal biex it-tarbija ttiehdet f’King’s College Hospital, f’Londra, ghal aktar kura specjalizzata.

Fl-14 ta’ Lulju, it-tobba u l-ispecjalisti ddecidew li l-unika tama biex it-tarbija ssalva kienet li tinghata fwied gdid. Wara li kienet iffissata data ghall-operazzjoni, instab li l-fwied li kien se jinghata lit-tarbija ma kienx jaqbel maghha. Kien f’dawn il-granet ta’ qtiegh il-qalb li sar talb herqan bl-inter- cessjoni ta’ Dun Gorg Preca u sahansitra tqieghdet fuq it-tarbija ingwanta li kienet intuzat waqt l-ezumazzjoni tal-beatu.

Fl-20 ta’ Lulju, il-kundizzjoni tat-tarbija qalbet ghall-ahjar u l-fwied taghha beda jiffunzjona mill-gdid.

Erbat ijiem wara, it-tobba ddecidew li t-tarbija ma kellhiex aktar bzonn it-trapjant tal-fwied. It-tarbija llum ghandha hames snin u hi b’sahhitha.

F’Lulju ta’ l-2002, sena wara l-fejqan, it-Tribunal Ekklezjastiku ta’ l-Arcisdjocesi ta’ Malta, taht it-tmexxija ta’ Mons. Arthur Said Pullicino, ta bidu ghall-process djocesan biex jistudja l-kaz u jara jekk ghandux jigi pprezentat lill-Kongregazzjoni tal-Kawzi tal-Qaddisin.

The first years

The gathering of young laymen learning the gospel and the Church's moral teaching at a small house in Fra Diego Street, Hamrun, seemed rather strange 100 years ago.

Half a century before Vatican Council II opened the Catholic Church to new ideas, Mass was still said in Latin and the Maltese Curia had a vital institutional status in the country's political, economic and social life. Its ministers enjoyed a much greater degree of popular respect as holders of knowledge that was not accessible to an overwhelmingly uneducated population.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that in such a context, the first members of the society of Christian doctrine were seen through a strange light. Less surprising is that fact that members of the clergy held the society's leader, Dun Gorg Preca, in distrust and were downright suspicious of his progressive ideas. As more catechism houses were opened in different parts of Malta, some even feared Tal-Muzew were some kind of sect that would break off from the Church.

According to testimonies compiled during the beatification and canonisation process of Dun Gorg, the pedagogical approach of the MUSEUM founder had no precedent in Malta, to the extent that it vexed certain priests who thought that moral theology should not be taught to the "ill-mannered and socially inept".

Dun Gorg laid emphasis on the need for people to learn the Bible, even being able to recite parts off by heart, and on the need to know the moral teachings of Christ and the Church.

Francis Saliba, who was superior general of the MUSEUM in 1967, recounted in an interview with a Vatican commission that Dun Gorg had been criticised by a fellow priest who said he had been "teaching moral theology to boors". Other witnesses say Dun Gorg's reply had been simple and straightforward: "Should we keep to ourselves what we learnt at the seminary?"

On one occasion, as he was teaching catechism in church, Dun Gorg overheard the sacristan tell a group of children that God had created Himself. It was one of those incidents, it seems, that made Dun Gorg decide to gather a group of young men and prepare them to teach catechism, to found an institution for such a purpose. Dun Gorg's intention was that the society would be made up of lay people who would commit themselves to live by God's word in everyday life, and give their lives to teaching.

When he bounced the idea off his confessor, Mgr Luigi Attard, Dun Gorg was greatly encouraged. With the blessing of the parish priest, he gathered the first group of young men and on March 7, 1907, held the first meetings, first in a church and then in the society's first house in Hamrun.

According to Mr Saliba, the first 10 years were difficult as Dun Gorg's ideas were misunderstood. Opposition by the clergy and other people, Mr Saliba recounted, stemmed from the first three rules imposed on the members, as the founder had ordered them not to wear a tie and not to smoke, and to cut their hair short. Overcoming the sin of vanity seemed to be the main reason behind the rules, but Dun Gorg himself had been told by members of the clergy that his rules were too austere. Some priests even suspected he was not completely sane.

Criticism also came their way for the teaching methods. A number of parish priests opposed the society, fearing it would create a schism in the Maltese Catholic Church.

In Cottonera, for example, when Dun Gorg and members of the MUSEUM started teaching, word spread that the society's members were sick people. Mothers stopped sending their children to catechism as a result, fearing they would get some kind of disease.

According to his companions, the opposition saddened Dun Gorg who occasionally commented: "You would never expect this from Church people".

Francis Camilleri, a member of the MUSEUM who was 54 years old when Dun Gorg died, said the society's founder simply could not understand why some members of the clergy felt that the society was creating a rivalry or some kind of competition with the Church.

"To some it seemed that the formation given to the members of the society was more than what they could manage. And one should acknowledge that not all the first members were prepared for such formation," Mr Camilleri recalled.

The suspicions turned political when Dun Gorg started being compared to Manwel Dimech, an important progressive figure at the time who led an "anti-clerical" movement called Society of the Enlightened. One of the most controversial Maltese political figures, Mr Dimech was eventually exiled and died in Alexandria.

Since Dun Gorg wanted to popularise catechism and the Holy Scriptures, some feared that, in reality, the MUSEUM was promulgating some kind of dubious spiritual illumination, Mr Camilleri said.

What also seemed very strange at the time was Dun Gorg's disposition to meet non-Catholics and sinners. Various members of the society testified that he took into his home "known sinners and people not pertaining to the Catholic faith".

Suspicions, according to Crispin Mangion, a member of the society whose confessor was often Dun Gorg, also derived from the fact that the priest had established contacts with a mission of a British Protestant Church. Dun Gorg's ecumenical spirit led to suspicions that his covert intention was to protestantise the Church.

Despite all the opposition, most witnesses acknowledged that the majority of priests held Dun Gorg in high esteem and admired his zeal, his empowering faith and the simplicity of his words.

When Archbishop Mauro Caruana asked Dun Gorg to close the houses, the MUSEUM founder obeyed immediately. But soon after the first two were closed down, a counter order arrived as the Archbishop no longer doubted Dun Gorg's intentions.

Dun Gorg himself had recounted that some years into the setting up of the society, precisely when Mgr Caruana came to Malta, some priests told the bishop that the MUSEUM society was dangerous for the Church. Impressed by what he had heard, Mgr Caruana sent for the priest who was initially afraid to present himself.

Encouraged by another priest, Dun Gorg went to the bishop who immediately understood there was nothing wrong with the work.

Initially perplexed, Mgr Caruana is said to have declared in the presence of his nephew that he would "never approve the society".

Many have witnessed that despite opposition by the Church itself, Dun Gorg was attached to the Church and venerated the Pope very much, suffering a lot when the Church was persecuted. He had distanced himself from the politico-religious issues of the time, in his belief that winning over souls was his only mission.

The MUSEUM society finally received the Church's approval in 1932.

In the run up to the canonisation of Blessed Dun Gorg Preca at St Peter's Basilica on Sunday, The Times is carrying a series of articles based on interviews carried out during the canonisation cause. The is the first. Another two will follow tomorrow and on Wednesday.

The visions of Dun Gorg

As a child, Blessed Gorg Preca experienced a number of mystical visions he recounted to his close collaborators later in life.

Interviewed by a commission looking into the priest's canonisation cause, members of the MUSEUM, the Christian doctrine society he had set up 100 years ago said they often heard him recount an episode that took place when his family still lived in Valletta.

During that period, the young Gorg once saw a handsome young man who grabbed his hand and gave him a watch. Until the end of his life, he was convinced that the mysterious young man was St Michael the Archangel.

According to the testimonies, Dun Gorg often asked his relatives if they recalled the incident, but they had no recollection of it. The episode, however, seems to have stayed in his mind throughout his life, to the extent that he wrote a series of prayers and named it Arlogg Muzewmin, attributing his inspiration to the childhood occurrence. The priest renowned for his humility and modest ways seems to have had other visions. Antonia (Nellie) Bartolo, who served as Dun Gorg's housekeeper from 1948, recounted an episode which was also heard by members of the MUSEUM. Already a priest, he was one day walking through Marsa on his way to Paola.

At one point, a young man pulling a cart loaded with fodder cried out to the priest asking him for help to push the cart. As Dun Gorg was pushing the cart, recounts another witness, he felt a sensation of peace and happiness and the young man suddenly disappeared.

Many recall Dun Gorg's special devotions to the Cross and Holy Mary, his prayer and perseverance and the conviction that "God controls everything according to His will". This seems to have helped the saint get through moments of difficulty, most notably when he was being misunderstood by members of the clergy and people who were suspicious of his ways.

According to members of the MUSEUM who relayed information heard from Dun Gorg himself, the priest, who would become one of the most esteemed for his holiness, was not accepted by his peers as an adolescent, especially when playing football.

A member of the MUSEUM who later became the superior general in 1967, Francis Saliba, heard Dun Gorg recount how he used to feel left out when peers did not accept him as a young boy. "He used to say this, I believe, so that we would not be discouraged when we felt like strangers to the world," Mr Saliba told the Vatican commission.

Mr Saliba also heard Mgr Giuseppe Schembri, who was at school with Dun Gorg, recounts that the priest spoke to his friends about religious and moral thoughts during recreation. He was held in high esteem and loved by his companions.

An interesting childhood anecdote Dun Gorg seems to have mentioned often, as an example of people's bad tendencies, was that he had stolen a small candelabrum from the church of St Cajetan, in Hamrun, when he was seven. He first took it home but afterwards went to confession and returned it.

Dun Gorg had no special friends. Not even his close collaborators knew exactly who his friends were. He had words of gratitude for his teachers, and loved the members of the society "sincerely" and "without preference".

One witness, George Wilson, said Dun Gorg was the "friend of everybody and the friend of nobody". Many agreed that the priest sought a constant equilibrium in showing affection to people, kept at arms length from women and stressed that "only mortified eyes will see heaven".

What seems to have impressed people was Dun Gorg's habit of kissing people's feet. He stopped only when Archbishop Mauro Caruana ordered him to refrain from doing so. The characteristic of obedience was evident to those who lived with Dun Gorg, who say he saw in his superiors' orders the will of God.

People admired his zeal and his fear of God. These attributes, according to witnesses, won the priest a reputation of sainthood that made people flock to him for confession.

Many found striking the simplicity expressed by his way of life: his modest house, his refusal to accept donations for Masses, and the fact that he ate and slept very little.

On his deathbed, on July 26, 1962, as he breathed with difficulty, he is said to have been calm as he repeated the words "God is purifying me". Surrounded by his housekeeper, Nellie Bartolo, and other people including two nuns, Dun Gorg gazed often at a picture of St Michael the Archangel and kissed for the last time the emblem of the society he had founded more than 50 years before.

Xi grajjiet minn hajjet Dun Gorg

 It-Twelid tal-Beatu Gorg Preca.

 

              Gorg Preca twieled il-Belt Valletta nhar it-12 ta’ Frar 1880. Missieru kien is-sur Vincenz Preca u ommu kien jisimha Natalie nee Ceravolo. Hu kien is-7 minn 9 ahwa. Missieru kien merkant imbaghad spettur tas-sanita’ u ommu kienet ghalliema.  Ic-ckejken Gorg gie mghammed hamest ijiem wara li twieled, jigifieri fis-17 ta’ Frar 1880, fil-knisja ta’ Santa Marija ta’ Porto Salvu, maghrufa ahjar bhala San Duminku. Missieru xtaq hafna li jsemmih Gorg, ghax dak kien l-isem ta’ missieru stess (in-nannu ta’ Dun Gorg). L-isem ‘Gorg‘ ifisser ‘wiehed li jahdem l-ghelieqi’. U hekk kellu jkun Dun Gorg meta jikber... haddiem fl-ghelieqi tal-Mulej Gesu’.

Gorg salvat mill-Gharqa!

               Dun Gorg kien ghad kellu madwar 5 snin meta, fil-festa tal-Madonna tal-Karmnu, is-seftura Filomena hadet lilu u lil hutu x-xatt tal-Belt. Ic-ckejken Gorg lemah qasba tghum f’wicc l-ilma. Billi riedha u l-bahar kien jidher lixx qisu hgieg, kif medd siequ baqa’ niezel u kien ser jeghreq. Ghall-aghjat tas-seftura, Mikiel il-barklor li nzerta fil-qrib resaq bid-dghajsa u salvah mill-gharqa.

               F’dak il-hin li kien se jeghreq, missieru kien qieghed fil-knisja tal-Karmnu, il-Belt, ghall-festa u, billi hass dwejjaq kbar fuqu, quddiem il-kurcifiss talab: “Ehles lili u l-familja tieghi minn kull periklu.” U jidher li Alla sema’ t-talba tieghu.

Profezija.

               Darba wahda, meta kellu xi sittax-il sena Dun Gorg kien sejjer lura bil-mixi bhas-soltu mil-Liceo fil-Belt lejn id-dar tieghu fil-Hamrun, fejn issa kienu marru joqghodu. Xhin wasal il-gnien tal-Mall il-Furjana, iltaqa’ ma’ Dun Ercole Monpalao, sacerdot imdahhal fiz-zmien u baqghu mexjin lejn il-Hamrun flimkien.

               Hin minnhom, meta waslu f’nofs il-Mall sewwa, Dun Ercole waqaf u b’serjeta’ kbira dar fuq Dun Gorg u qallu: “Preca, int ghad tikber, issir qassis u nies li jirrispettaw ’l Alla jidhlu fil-hbiberija tieghek u int tidhol fil-hbiberija taghhom. Int issib xortik permezz taghhom u huma jsibu xortihom permezz tieghek.

               Aktar tard, Dun Gorg induna li din kienet profezija li sehhet bit-twaqqif tas-Socjeta’ tal-Museum ghax hu sab xortih mas-soci li kien ighallem u s-soci sabu xortihom bit-taghlim ta’ Dun Gorg.

L-Ewwel Laqghat

Ewgenju zaghzugh              

Dun Gorg kien johrog jiltaqa’ ma’ xi zghazagh f’ghalqa quddiem il-knisja tal-Hamrun. Hemm saru hbieb u kien joqghod ikellimhom u jghallimhom. Minn fost dawn  iz-zghazagh li kienu jiltaqghu fil-ghalqa, Dun Gorg darba gibed fil-genb lil Ewgenju Borg, zaghzugh fuq ruhu, u qallu: “Nhar il-Hadd wara nofs in-nhar immorru passiggata flimkien. Gib mieghek bicca hobz, basla, bicca gobon u flixkun inbid.” Qallu wkoll igib mieghu l-Bibbja u fthiemu dwar il-hin.

               Il-Hadd wasal u xhin iltaqghu, qabdu t-triq tar-raba’, in-naha ta’ Santa Venera, dahlu f’ghalqa, sabu sigra tal-harrub u poggew tahtha jistriehu fuq blata. Hemmhekk, Dun Gorg qaghad jispjega l-Bibbja lil Ewgenju Borg. U dawn il-laqghat komplew isiru. Kienu fost l-ewwel laqghat li minnhom zviluppat is-Socjeta’ tal-Museum.

Gorg Preca jsir Sacerdot.

               Dun Gorg Preca sar sacerdot fit-22 ta’ Dicembru ta’ l-1906. Dan tassew kellu jkun minn Alla. Xi zmien qabel kien marad marda serja meta nixiflu pulmun minnhom u kien kwazi miet. Il-Professur Enrico Meli, wara li kien ezaminah, kemmex xufftejh u qal lill-missieru: “Imutlek zgur, ghax ghandu l-pulmun tax-xellug nixiflu.” Sa meta xjah Dun Gorg kien jiccajta u jghid: “U missieri miet, u l-Professur miet u jien ghadni haj!” Dun Gorg kien jghid ukoll li kien San Guzepp li fejqu.

Parir fuq is-Socjeta’.

               Dun Gorg mar iqerr ghand il-konfessur tieghu, Dun Alwig Attard. Kif kien lesta mill-qrar u rcieva l-assoluzzjoni, Dun Gorg talab parir lil Dun Alwig u qallu bil-pjanijiet li kellu biex jibda socjeta’ tat-taghlim Nisrani. Dun Alwig hares lejh u wiegbu: “Mur u iftah u aghmel il-mezzi.” U Dun Gorg hekk ghamel. Kien jghid li li kieku Dun Alwig qallu: “Taghmel xejn” hu kien jobdih. |mien wara dak l-istess sacerdot, Dun Alwig Attard, kellu jkun maghzul Isqof ta’ Malta u ghen hafna fl-inkjesta tal-Museum biex isir is-Socjeta’ tajba li hu llum ghax kien jaf kemm Dun Gorg kien sacerdot tajjeb, prudenti u ubbidjenti.

Il-Bidu tal-Museum.

               Kien it-Tnejn 4 ta’ Marzu 1907 meta z-zghazagh li soltu kienu jiltaqghu ma’ Dun Gorg saru jafu li Dun Gorg kien kera post ghalihom. Il-Hamis ta’ wara, 7 ta’ Marzu 1907 kera mezzanin, numru 6 Triq Fra Diegu l-Hamrun u bdew jiltaqghu hemm, jitghallmu minn Dun Gorg. Dan il-post kienu jghidulu n-‘Numru Sei’.

               Fl-1908 Dun Gorg xtaq jaghti isem lill-ghaqda tieghu. Wiehed miz-zghazagh, Salvu Muscat, qallu: “Sinjur, insemmuha Muzew!” L-ohrajn ghogbithom l-idea ghax fil-Muzew jinzammu hwejjeg ta’ siwi. Sahbu, kollhom entuzjazmu ghollewh fuq l-ispallejn, harguh barra u b’qoxra ta’ rummiena kiteb mal-hajt il-kelma “MUSEUM”.

               Zmien wara Dun Gorg ta tifsira aktra xierqa lill-kelma MUSEUM: “Magister, Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus”, jigifieri “Mghallem, o li kieku d-dinja kollha timxi wara l-evangelu tieghek.”

Id-Dehra tas-Salib tal-Marsa.

     Dun Gorg kien ihobb jirrakkonta din id-dehra li kellu: Jghid li darba kien ghaddej  minn hdejn is-salib tal-Marsa u hemm jara tifel ta’ tnax-il sena qed jigbed b’habel isfar karru b’roti baxx izda sodi li fuqu kellu qoffa mimlija zibel. It-tifel resaq lejn Dun Gorg u b’ton ta’ kmand qallu: “Aghtini l-ghajnuna.” U Dun Gorg, kollu umilta’, la qaghad iqis li kien bis-suttana u bil-kappell ta’ qassis u lanqas x’jistghu jghidu n-nies fuqu, medd idu u beda jinbotta. U dak il-hin hakmitu hlewwa tas-sema li ma setax ifisser u fl-ghaxija sab ruhu d-dar bla ma jaf fejn wassal lit-tifet li kien jinbottalu l-karru, jekk hux Hal Qormi, il-Hamrun jew band’ohra.

               Biss, meta qaghad jahseb fuq dil-bicca, Dun Gorg beda jghid: “Dak it-tifel ta’ tnax-il sena kien bhal Gesu’ ta’ tnax-il sena jiddisputa fit-tempju; iz-zibel hu mxebbah minn Kristu mat-taghlin bhalma d-demel ikabbar il-pjanti it-taghlim ikabbar lir-ruh. Il-habel isfar hu l-ghaqda mal-Papa u l-karru b’roti baxxi izda sodi ma tistax tkun hag‘ohra hlief is-socjeta’ tal-Museum. Jien ninbotta l-karru u Gesu’ jimxi quddiem. Hu jghaddina minn fuqiex irid - fjuri jew tajn! Ghalhekk fid-diffikultajiet hu Kristu li qed imexxi u jien u s-soci ninbuttaw il-karru tieghu!”

Il-‘Verbum Dei’.

               Dun Gorg ried li s-soci kollha tal-Museum jilbsu l-badge li ggib il-kelmiet Verbum Dei Caro Factum Est, jigifieri L-Iben t’Alla Sar Bniedem.

               L-ewwel darba li Dun Gorg uza din is-sentenza kien fil-mewt ta’ missieru Vincenz li grat fil-5 ta’ Dicembru 1917. Dun Gorg kien qara li din is-sentenza hi qawwija kontra t-tentazzjonijiet. Fuq hekk Dun Gorg gietu l-idea li jpoggi fuq sider missieru li kien qieghed imut, karta b’dawn il-kelmiet gheziez miktubin fuqha. Dun Gorg kien jghid li, qabel ma miet, missieru  deher wiccu jiddi u jitbissem u wara mewtu missieru deher lil Dun Gorg u qallu: “Nirringrazzjak tal-Verbum Dei li ghamiltli fuq sidri ghax minhabba fiha kelli gudizzju helu wisq.” U minn dak in-nhar Dun Gorg beda jxerred id-devozzjoni lejn il-Verbum Dei, li llum mhux biss xterdet ma’ Malta u Ghawdex izda anke f’pajjizi barranin fejn hemm il-Museum.

 

Anedotti     DUN GORG PRECA: SACERDOT QRIB TA’ ALLA U L-BNEDMIN

Din hija gabra qasira ta’ grajjiet mill-hajja (u l-mewt) tal-Beatu Gorg Preca. F’dawn il-grajjiet jidher car kemm dan is-sacerdot kien bniedm qaddis minhabba li kien qrib t’Alla (mill-imgieba tieghu u l-ispirtu ta’ Kristu li kellu fih) u kemm kien ukoll qrib tal-proxxmu (mill-ghajnuna li dejjem ra li jaghti lil min kien fil-bzonn; u dan ghax fil-proxxmu kien jara lil Kristu sidna)

Fil-ghaxija, meta l-knisja ta’ San Gejtanu kienet titbattal min-nies, Dun Gorg kien jghin lis-sagristan jigbor is-siggijiet biex dan, min-naha tieghu, ihallih fil-knisja wahdu wara li jaghlaq. Hemm kien jintasab quddiem l-altar, jintefa’ minn tulu fl-art wiccu ’l isfel u jghaddi hin twil, fid-dlam jitlob quddiem it-tabernaklu.

Dun Gorg ma kienx irid jibqa’ mfakkar. Darba, gie mistieden ibierek magna gdida u jqaddes fil-laundry ta’ l-Inglizi, il-Marsa. F’nofsinhar kulhadd tela’ biex jara lil Dun Gorg. Meta ntebah li wiehed Ingliz kien ser jehodlu ritratt, Dun Gorg kien pront baghat jghidlu: he Father hates photos.”

Fil-Mellieha, Dun Gorg ra tifel imfarfar isabbat saqajh u jghid lill-ommu: “Leqq, ma rridx. Leqq, ma rridx.” Ommu kienet talbitu jmur jixtrilha l-hobz. Dun Gorg resaq lejh u staqsieh: “Int tafu l-katekizmu?” “Dazgur li nafu, jien abbati.”  “Ha nara, Alla fejn jinsab?” staqsieh Dun Gorg. “Alla jinsab fis-sema, fl-art u kullimkien.” “Tajjeb. Allura hawn jinsab ukoll. Allura rak tirrispondi ‘’l ommok, issabbat saqajk u tghidilha: ‘Leqq ma rridx’.” It-tifel baxxa rasu, mar fuq ommu u qalilha: “Gib ha nixtrilek, ma.”

Dari, biex isajru jew jghallu l-hwejjeg, in-nisa kienu jqabbdu l-kenur fuq il-bankina biex biz-ziffa n-nar jiehu. Darba, Dun Gorg, waqt li kien ghaddej minn triq ewlenija l-Hamrun, ra tifla li l-kenur taghha bl-ebda mod ma seta’ jaqbad. Dun Gorg resaq lejha, kellimha, ha l-imrewha f’idu u beda jrewwah hu sakemm il-gamar qabad gmielu.

Dun Gorg kien ihobb jakkompanja fil-purcissjonijiet tal-parrocca biss. Kien isejjah xi tifel zghir biex joqghod magenbu jzommlu x-xemgha halli hu joqghod jaqra l-brevjar waqt il-purcissjoni. Meta jinduna, il-kappillan kien jibda jghid: “Ma rridx tfal fil-purcissjoni,” u ghalhekk, Dun Gorg kien jghid lit-tifel: “Mur,issa, hi.” Izda meta kien iwarrab il-kappillan, Dun Gorg kien iqabbad xi tifel iehor li kollu kburi, kien izommlu x-xemgha biex Dun Gorg ikompli jitlob il-brevjar. B’hekk hsibijietu jibqghu migbura f’Alla.

Xi zghazagh kienu fil-Pjazza ta’ Fra Diegu l-Hamrun meta lemhu sacerdot riesaq mill-boghod. Wiehed minnhom dar fuq shabu u qallhom: “Ara x’wirdiena gejja!”. Meta qorob indunaw li kien Dun Gorg u z-zaghzugh talbu l-benedizzjoni. “Il-wirdien ma jberikx, tafx!” wiegbu Dun Gorg. Iz-zghzagh baqghu imbellhin kif seta’ semaghhom meta kien tant imbieghed. Iz-zaghzugh skuza ruhu ma’ Dun Gorg. “Ma jimpurtax, ma jimpurtax,” wiegbu Dun Gorg. Dak il-lejl dak iz-zaghzugh ma setax jorqod. L-ghada rega’ mar isir lil Dun Gorg, rega’ talbu skuza u qerr.

Ragel kien diehel Bieb il-Belt isuq hmar li kellu karettun baxx, u Dun Gorg kien mimdud fuq il-karettun. Wiehed ragel, xhin rah f’dik il-qaghda, qallu: “Kieku jarak l-isqof!” Dun Gorg wiegbu b’lehen artab u qallu: “Mela l-isqof ibezza’ n-nies!”

Naraw is-semplicita’ u l-informalita’ ta’ Dun Gorg.

Dan il-fatt kien jirrakkontah Felic Bigeni, ragel mill-Isla, fatt li gara lilu stess.

Darba, Felic kien qieghed ibigh il-gandoffli l-Isla u ltaqa’ ma’ Dun Gorg qrib il-mina. Felic sellem lil Dun Gorg, imbaghad qallu: “Dun Gorgberikni, trid? Ilni hafna ndur mat-toroq u ma nista’ nbiegh xejn!” Dun Gorghares lejh, beriklu t-tilar bil-gandoffli u baqa’ sejjer ghal triqtu. M’ghaddiex wisq hin meta gew in-nies jixtru u Felic biegh kulma kellu fit-tilar.

Ghall-habta ta’ l-1952, ragel mill-Marsa li kien jahdem f’hanut tat-te, bil-fwawar u s-shana tal-ktieli, ha rih f’ghajn minnhom. Tant marret lura li l-professur qallu li kellu jaqlaghhielu. Martu baghtitu ghand Dun Gorg. “Ghidlu jhallina l-professur,” qawwielu qalbu Dun Gorg waqt li b’sebghu l-kbir ghamillu salib fuq l-ghajn affettwata. Mill-ghada beda sejjer ghall-ahjar u sa gimgha wara seta’ jimxi fix-xemx ukoll.

Mara li kienet prezenti ghall-funeral ta’ Dun Gorgtalbitu jaqlaghlha l-grazzja li binha jersaq lejn is-sagramenti fi zmien tmient ijiem. Wara bhal skruplat li rabtitu biz-zmien. Izda kbir kien l-iskantament taghha meta qabel m’ghaddew tmient ijiem, binha ma riedx il-kolazzjoni biex imur jitqarben. Bilkemm riedet temmen lil widnejha.

Dun Gorg dejjem zamm b’mudell ghal hajtu lil Gesu’ msallab. Gesu’ li wasslilna t-taghlim tal-hajja ta’ dejjem, li wriena t-triq tas-salvazzjoni u hallielna l-kelma tieghu bhala l-Ahbar it-Tajba. Fil-kurcifiss Dun Gorg kien jara ukol il-proxxmu fil-bzonn: mard, faqar, diffikultajiet, slaleb, dnubiet u aktar. Ghalekk ma setax ikun li Dun Gorg jintrabat b’imhabba kbira ma’ Gesu’ msallab minghajr ma’ jintrabat ukoll b’imhabba kbira mal-proxxmu. Nitolbuh il-grazzja li ahna wkoll inhobbu ’l Alla u l-proxxmu, ezattament kif jghidulna l-ewwel u t-tieni kmandament.

Fis-Sodda tal-Mewt.

               Dun Gorg, issa xih u b’pulmun wiehed, kien wasal biex imut. Sahtu marret ghall-aghar u nxtehet fis-sodda. Kien Lulju ta’ l-1962. Ftit jiem wara li qaleb ghall-aghar, ezatt gurnata qabel ma miet, Dun Gorg fil-ghodu kmieni hassu hazin izda fil-ghaxija stejqer xi ftit. Wara nofs in-nhar, is-Sorijiet tal-Karita’ li kienu mieghu sabuh jaqra l-Vangelu bit-Taljan. Soru minnhom staqsietu: “Dun Gorg, ma teghjiex taqra?” U Dun Gorg wegibha: “Le, le, qed nitpaxxa bil-Vangelu ta’ Kristu.” Il-kliem ta’ Kristu, il-Lehen il-Mahbub, baqa’ jidwi f’qalbu sakemm miet.

Il-Mewt u l-Funeral.

               Dun Gorg miet fit-7:45pm fis-26 ta’ Lulju 1962. Kellu 82 sena. Dak il-hin, is-soci rgiel u nisa kienu fil-knejjes jitolbu ghall-bzonnijiet kollha tieghu. Il-katavru ta’ Dun Gorg tqieghed f’tebut u ttiehed f’purcissjoni mid-dar tieghu sad-Dar Generali tal-Museum fil-Blata l-Bajda. Hemm mil-gisem mejjet ta’ Dun Gorg regghu kixfuh biex il-Maltin jigu jarawh u jaghtuh l-ahhar tislimiet taghhom.

 

              Is-Sibt, 28 ta’ Lulju, jumejn wara li miet, DunGorg indifen fil-qabar tieghu. Mhux f’cimiterju izda fl-istess Dar Generali tas-Socjeta’ tal-Museum. Hemmhekk dam midfun kwazi erbghin sena, meta l-katavru tieghu inqala’ biex jigi studjat minhabba l-kawza tal-beatifikazzjoni tieghu.

Iberikna mis-Smewwiet.

               Fid-9 ta’ Mejju 2001, il-Papa Gwanni Pawlu 2 ibbeatifika lil Dun Gorg Preca propju hawn Malta. U d-data ta’ dak in-nhar tkun propjament il-festa ta’ dan il-Beatu. Il-Papa Benedittu se jiddikjarah qaddis nhar it-3 ta' Gunju 2007. Illum Dun Gorg qieghed igawdi l-Genna, fil-prezenza ta’ Kristu li tant kien ihobb u tal-Madonna li tant kienet ghal qalbu. Ejjew ahna wkoll nitolbuh il-barka tieghu, waqt li nwiegheduh li bhalu nhobbu dejjem il-Kelma t’Alla u nagmluha.

 

Ghaliex Dun Gorg qaddis?

kitba ta' Angelo Xuereb

 

Qassis li emmen fil-lajci

Mill-hajja tal-Beatu Gorg Preca naraw kemm ta importanza lil-lajci fil-missjoni tal-Knisja. Fi zmienu l-lajci qajla kienu jiehdu sehem f’inizjattivi ta’ appostolat. Izda huwa nqeda bil-lajci biex jeqred l-injoranza religjuza li kienet tezisti fil-gzejjer Maltin. Il-poplu kien veru mdawwar mal-Knisja izda ma tantx kien mghallem fi hwejjeg ta’ religjon. Darba sema’ lil tifel isaqsi lil sagristan li kien qieghed jghallem: “Alla, min halqu?” U dak wiegbu: “Alla nhalaq wahdu.” Din ir-risposta xxokkjat lil Dun Gorg u zgur li mmotivatu biex jibda jinqeda bil-lajci biex jghallem il-katekizmu. Ghalhekk nistghu nsejhulu dak li l-ewwel ghallem il-lajci u mbaghad qabadhom jghallmu lill-ohrajn.

Ghalliem ta’ kulhadd

Dun Gorg qatt ma kien jixba’ jghallem. Ghallem fil-Muzewijiet, f’konferenzi, kif ukoll f’sajdat. Tant kien jitkellem b’konvinzjoni li min kien jisimghu ma kien jixba’ qatt. It-taghlim tieghu kien jibbazah fuq il-Bibbja, it-taghlim tal-Knisja u tal-qaddisin, ezempji mill-istorja tal-Knisja u hajjet il-qaddisin. B’hekk huwa ma kienx biss ghalliem tal-Katekizmu izda heggeg lis-semmiegha tagh-hom biex ibiddlu hajjithom u jaghtu lil Alla kemm jistghu.

Kien jitkellem b’mod sempli-ci, b’mod li jifhmu kulhadd. Izda l-kontenut li kien iwassal kien ta’ livell. Fuq kollox Dun Gorg kien jifhem kif igib ruhu l-bniedem u kellu pratticità kbira. Dan jixhdu wkoll il-fatt li bosta persuni kienu jfittxuh ghall-pariri tieghu u biex jikkonslahom waqt il-provi tal-hajja.

L-intenzjoni retta

L-ispiritwalità ta’ Dun Gorg Preca hija bbazata fuq l-intenzjoni retta. Huwa jghallem li dak li naghmlu ghandna naghmluh ghall-glorja ta’ Alla u mhux ghal xi interess partikolari. Tant ried jghallem fuq din l-intenzjoni retta li darba kien hemm wahda mara fil-knisja ta’ San Gejtanu l-Hamrun li ntlaqtet minn ragel b’siggu waqt li dan kien qieghed igorr waqt li kienet qieghda titlob ir-Ruzarju b’mod mill-aktar devot. Din il-mara sahnet bil-kbir izda Dun Gorg gibdilha l-attenzjoni li fil-Qaddisa kienet tghid li ahna midinbin. U b’cajta kkonkluda: “U jekk wiehed huwa midneb, x’jixraqlu jekk mhux daqqa fuq rasu.”

 Naraw ezempju iehor. Darba wiehed zaghzugh mar ghandu biex jitolbu parir fuq il-vokazzjoni tieghu. Din il-persuna xtaqet issir patri. Izda Dun Gorg staqsieh il-ghala jrid isir patri u mhux ajk jigifieri ‘brother’. U dan dlonk wiegbu: “Jekk insir ajk, nispicca seftur tal-patrijiet” u ghalhekk Dun Gorg rega’ wiegbu li kien qieghed ifittex l-unur u r-rispett u mhux il-glorja ta’ Alla.

Dun Gorg Preca kien koerenti mieghu nnifsu u kien jghix dan it-taghlim. Meta l-awtoritajiet tal-Knisja ordnawlu biex jaghlaq ic-centri tad-duttrina li kien fetah, huwa dlonk obda. U l-intenzjoni retta tieghu tidher aktar cara meta bil-barka tas-Superjuri, rega’ fetahhom mill-gdid. Barra minn hekk huwa baqa’ ubbidjenti ghas-Superjuri tieghu matul hajtu kollha. Kieku ma kellux intenzjoni mill-izjed pura, kieku Dun Gorg ma baqax miexi fit-triq li qabad minkejja li kellu jsofri hafna tbatijiet.

Ghalliem tal-mahfra ta’ l-ghedewwa

Kien kontinwament jishaq li Gesù jridna li nimitawh b’mod partikolari fl-umiltà u fil-mahfra ta’ l-ghedewwa, u li Alla ma jahfrilniex jekk ahna ma nahfrux lill-ghedewwa taghna. Meta l-gazzetti ta’ dak iz-zmien kienu qeghdin jixhtu dell ikrah fuqu ma rrikorriex fil-qorti u fittex jiddefendi ruhu permezz ta’ xi kawza. Kiteb ktieb zghir mill-isbah fuq dan is-suggett u semmieh: “Ittra popolari fuq il-Manswetudni”. Barra minn dan ghandu kitbiet ohrajn fuq dan is-suggett.

Qassis ezemplari

Nigu issa biex naraw x’tip ta’ qassis kien. Qatt ma okkupa karigi bhal dik ta’ kappillan jew vigarju parrokkjali u lanqas qatt ma kellu xi xoghol fil-kurja veskovili. Izda dan ma jfissirx li ma kienx attiv anzi kien attivissimu. Mohhu kien il-hin kollu jahseb kif Kristu se jigi maghruf u mahbub u ghalhekk qatt ma tilef okkazjoni biex jghallem. Anki cajta jew kumment tieghu kien fihom taghlim profond.

Il-poplu nduna bil-qdusija ta’ dan is-sa-cerdot u ghalhekk kien jirrikorri ghandu fil-bzonnijiet tieghu. Anki kelma wahda minn tieghu kienet bizzejjed biex wiehed jitfarrag jew jibda t-triq it-tajba. Ta’ min isemmi li kien direttur spiritwali ta’ bosta persuni kif ukoll kien imfittex ghall-qrar.

Dejjem warrab l-unuri anki dawk li taghti l-Knisja, ghalkemm fihom infushom huma tajbin. Meta l-Arcisqof Mons. Mikiel Gonzi baghat ghalih halli jinformah li sar kamrier sigriet tal-Papa, bit-titlu ta’ Monsinjur, Dun Gorg Preca xejn ma ha gost u halla d-dokument fuq il-mejda ta’ l-Arcisqof. U qatt ma talbu lura.

Appostlu tal-Bibbja

Ghex fi zmien meta l-Bibbja ma kinitx f’idejn il-poplu. Izda Dun Gorg ta l-Bibbja f’idejn il-lajci. Bibbja bil-Malti ma kienx hawn. Ghalhekk huwa beda jaqleb mill-Vulgata Latina partijiet mill-Bibbja. Ta’ bniedem mill-aktar prudenti li kien, meta l-Professur Pietru Pawl Saydon beda jittraduci l-Bibbja bil-Malti, waqaf mix-xoghol li kien qieghed jaghmel. Appoggja kemm felah lil dan il-Bibblista u lingwista Malti li ta hajtu ghall-Iskrittura. F’dan ir-rigward kien profeta tal-Koncilju Vatikan II li ta l-Bibbja lill-poplu.

Spirtu ta’ umiltà

 
Fuq kollox kien bniedem li l-umiltà kienet tispikka fih flimkien ma’ fiducja totali fil-providenza ta’ Alla. Is-socjetà li Alla hawwel permezz tieghu bdiet tikber bil-mod il-mod. Huwa dejjem emmen fil-qawwa ta’ Alla u anki meta kellu jghaddi mill-burraxki, ma qatax qalbu izda emmen li dak l-istess Alla li nebbhu b’din is-Soc-jetà, mhuwiex se jitilqu wahdu izda se jkompli jaghtih dejjem l-ghajnuna mehtiega. B’hekk il-fiducja f’Alla tant kienet kbira li qatt ma tkabbar lanqas meta s-Socjetà kibret u huwa kiseb certa fama ta’ qdusija.

Tant kien umli li donnu ried iwaqqa’ lilu nnifsu ghac-cajt billi kien jinzel ibus is-saqajn tan-nies. Gest ta’ umiltà kbira li wassal lil hafna biex jghidu li qieghed jaghmel certi stramberiji. Izda Dun Gorg ma kienx jaghti kas u hsiebu kien li jimita biss lil Sidna Gesù Kristu. U tant kellu intenzjoni retta f’din il-haga, li meta s-superjuri tieghu waqqfuh milli jaghmel din il-haga, huwa ma baqax jaghmilha.

Huma dejjem harab l-unuri u qatt ma ried pubblicità ghal dak li kien qieghed jaghmel. Kien ihobb jghid bit-Taljan: “Il bene non fa chiasso e il chiasso non fa bene” jigifieri li t-tajjeb ma jaghmilx hoss u l-hoss ma jaghmilx gid.”

Dun Gorg ghex esperjenza profonda ta’ talb

 
Il-kotba jistghu jghallmuk fuq Alla izda minghajr talb personali l-bniedem qatt ma jista’ jasal biex jidhol f’intimità ma’ Alla. U proprju Dun Gorg kien bniedem li dahal mill-qrib f’intimità ma’ Alla. Kien iqaddes b’certa devozzjoni, jghid bil-mod il-Liturgija tas-Sighat kif ukoll jitlob quddiem Gesù Sagramentat. Izda anke meta kien jitlob kien ikomplu jahseb fit-taghlim fuq Alla. Tant huwa hekk li fit-talb li kiteb, fih certa profondità ta’ taghlim. Kien devot hafna tal-pjagi ta’ Kristu u tal-Vergni Marija. Ghandhom kien idur fil-bzonnijiet taghhom izda fuq kollox kien jaghtihom tifhir u jiehu gost jahseb fihom.

Xhieda tassew Nisranija

 
Dun Gorg kien mehdi b’Alla u kien jghix ukoll bi stil ta’ faqar. Il-lussu u l-kumdità qatt ma ghamlu bih.

Tant huwa hekk, li hafna mid-djar wara l-gwerra installaw id-dawl elettriku. Izda Dun Gorg baqa’ minghajru u probabbilment li kieku qrib is-sena 1958, is-Socjetà tad-Duttrina Nisranija ma baghtitx membru biex jinstallahulu, kien jibqa’ minghajru.

Meta kien idahhal xi haga tal-flus, kien izomm dak li huwa mehtieg u l-bqija kien jaghtih lid-Djar tad-Duttrina, partikolarment lis-sezzjoni femminili, billi xi whud minnhom ma kienx ikollhom biex ihallsu l-kera, jaghtih karità u jistampa kotba.

Kittieb

 
Dun Gorg kien kittieb ta’ ’l fuq minn mitt ktieb ta’ taghlim. Huma miktubin b’mod hafif. Napprezzaw hafna l-isforz tieghu meta naraw li fi zmienu la kien hawn kompjuters u lanqas stamperiji sofistikati. Anzi lanqas dawl elettriku ma kien hawn, izda kien jehtieglu jikteb fid-dawl tal-lampa.

Is-Socjetà tad-Duttrina Nisranija hadet hsieb li terga’ tistampa dawn il-kotba. Hekk hafna minnhom jinsabu fil-hwienet tal-kotba ghall-bejgh. Xi whud minnhom inqalbu wkoll bl-Ingliz.

J’Alla l-kanonizzazzjoni ta’ Dun Gorg Preca tkun okkazjoni wkoll biex naghrfu s-sejha universali ghall-qdusija li kienet tant ghal qalbu.

A cultivator in the Lord's vineyard

by Tonio Caruana

Those who knew him, spoke of him as a person who knew how to empathise.

Those who did not know him, feared him as a person who could call fire from heaven.

Those who knew him, never tired of listening to him.

Those who did not know him, called him insane, and good for nothing.

Compared to the average Maltese, he could be considered tall, he was stocky but not fat, big-footed yet gentle, always cloaked in a black tunic that over time lost its beauty but not its cleanliness.

Unlike a lot of children, he never excelled in any sport and at times he was picked on and even bullied, to the extent that once an older companion hung him from the top of the inner frieze of San Gejtanu Church in Hamrun – an experience he never forgot.



His name was George, meaning farmer, and as the saying goes he lived up to his name, for he did cultivate the Lord’s vineyard. His family name was Preca, and he was born the seventh out of nine siblings. His parents were upper middle class and on his father’s side, his grandmothers were rich enough to have their portraits painted in oils by one of the leading artists on the Island.

George was born in Valletta in February 1880, but the family soon moved to Hamrun, where he passed practically his entire life. As a young boy of six, he started attending the local government primary school, and after

sitting for the Lyceum entrance exam the second time, he managed to enter the best secondary school at the time. He was known for his neat handwriting and his ability to master languages, especially Latin and French.

As an alter boy, George ventured to teach catechism to the young children who gathered in the sacristy. This he did not because he sought the opportunity but more because it was the custom in those days. Without any doubt, his teacher’s prediction, as he was walking along the Mall Gardens in Floriana – that many will find their good fortune through him – was far from being considered a reality by the young student, for at that time he was too shy, or let us say humble, to think of himself as anything close to a catalyst in the life of other people.

After completing his secondary education, George moved on to the major seminary at that time situated in Floriana, to start his studies for the priesthood. A deep seated desire to share his faith with others, and to speak of God’s love, spurred him to seek the sceptic and the agnostic. He would walk down towards Grand Harbour, knowing that there he would meet a number of foreigners, mainly sailors, and discuss matters concerning their faith and their relationship with Jesus. This exercise was also repeated with a group of young men whom he sought out to meet on a regular basis. This group of young men used to spend the evening hours playing football and talking in a field in front of Hamrun parish church.

They could easily sense that when he was with them, George was usually tense.

This made them behave rather childishly at times when, for instance, in order to see him panic, some of them used to throw the butt of an extinguished cigarette at him. The young seminarian used to stand up excitedly, brush off the cigarette butt and walk away. Yet he would return to the same place the next day, again trying to talk to these young men and share with them some passage from Scripture, something that was simply out of the ordinary in those days.

He was now 26 years old, and it was the year when he successfully concluded his studies at the seminary and in December he was expected to be ordained priest, yet this seemed to be suspended on a fine thread. The young man was sick, he contracted bronchitis and the doctor told his father that George would soon die.

Later George used to say that Divine Providence deemed different, for God’s ways are always shrouded in mystery. To some extent, when he himself became rather old, he used to joke that both the doctor and his father had passed away but he himself was still alive and moving around. Unexpectedly, George regained his health, contributing his healing to the intervention of St Joseph, whose holy picture hung on one of the walls in his bedroom.

It seemed that with his unquestionable faith, George turned to Joseph and told him to take care of him in the same way that he used to take care of Jesus, thus George was sure that eventually he would be fit enough to go to the Co-Cathedral on 22 December to be ordained.

On the day of his ordination, when Bishop Peter Pace came to anoint him with the blessed oil, the glass container ran out and the Bishop asked for the new oil, which had been blessed on Maundy Thursday of the preceding Easter. George used to say that he was anointed with the new oil, as if the Spirit wanted something new from him. What he actually gave birth to was rather new and unheard of in the church in to those days.

After his ordination to the priesthood, Fr George retreated into his small room that was situated very close to the roof. He wanted to minister to God’s people not according to his whim but to God’s will.

He could choose to look around him and see what needed to be done, yet he choose to ponder on the Word of God, from where he knew he could get the best idea of what to do. On one particular day between Christmas of 1906 and 2 February 1907 he came across Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in his Second Letter, second chapter, and second verse: “Pass on to reliable people what you have heard from me through many witnesses so that they in turn will be able to teach others.” This line summarised for Fr George what was, after all, his very first call, since he was relatively very young. He immediately sought the group of young people who used to meet just opposite the parish church in Hamrun and after meeting for about four weeks in a nearby chapel, decided to rent a house and change it into a permanent meeting centre.

This was the very humble beginning of what grew into a Society of Lay men and women whose sole purpose is to make Jesus known and loved by as many as possible. Fr Preca used to emphasise that those who did not love Jesus did this only because they did not know him.

Thus, he used to encourage his confrères to try to penetrate every place of work and leisure, befriend as many people as possible and always speak of God’s goodness to everybody.

The more he became known, and the more his group grew, the more opposition he faced. Some people in the church couldn’t understand how he could entrust the study of theology to lay semi-illiterate people! Others found it blasphemous to translate excerpts from Scripture and ask these youth to study them and meditate upon them. 1917 was a very difficult year. during which he was exposed to ridicule by a barrage of letters to the editors, published mainly in two of the leading newspapers of the time.

The classic insult, that was intended to hurt most, was when Fr George was called “Patriarch BUM”, thus associating him with someone who wants to look like a godfather, but will eventually disappear in no time at all in the same way as the sound and colour of a petard. How interesting it was, when the same letters – BUM – were interpreted as Buono (good), Umile (Humble) and Mansueto (Meek) by a Roman cleric during the process of the study for his sainthood.

Yet 25 years after Fr George’s first step towards empowering the laity and organising them into a fully-fledged society with complete autonomy from any clerical involvement, and despite the then Arch-

bishop of Malta, Mgr Mauro Caruana OSB, vowing that he would never approve of the new Society, the Society of Christian Doctrine was officially approved. By this time, Fr Preca was known, loved and sought after by many Maltese from all walks of life.

Fr George had his strange way of doing or reacting to things. Once, as he was on a boat crossing from Senglea to Valletta, a man stretched his feet across to such an extent that they nearly reached the face of Fr Preca. The priest could cope with the insult, and as he was about to stand up and disembark from the boat, he kissed the man’s boots. The man became so embarrassed that he asked the priest to forgive him.

It is also said that once he was visited by a young man who was known to be a very good dancer. This young man thought of joining the SDC group and was talking to Fr George about the idea. It happened that his sister told the priest that she needed some vegetables to cook for lunch. Off went Fr George with the young man, across High Street and up to a vegetable seller where he bought a cabbage and a cauliflower. He held the cabbage under his arm and asked the young man to hold the cauliflower under his.

Then, holding the young man by his hand, he made him walk back along the main street – looking rather ridiculous. Such exercises were carried out many times by Fr George to seek the true intention of an individual.

He could be crude too. Once a young lady approached him for advise.

On questioning her, she answered that she would like to be Jesus’ bride. Looking at her with an inquisitive expression, he said: “How come that the bridegroom is wearing thorns and his bride is all adorned with beads and perfume!” And when an old lady in the church was angry because someone had accidentally hit her, Fr George went up to her asked her to recite the Hail Mary. When she reached the prayer: Holy Mary mother of God, pray for us sinners, he asked her to stop. “Have you just prayed that you are a sinner?” he asked the old woman. “Yes sir” she replied, “we are all sinners”. Then Fr George said to her: “So why are you so cross that you were hit by a chair? A sinner like you does not deserve any better!”

There are countless reports of his wit and words of counsel that helped so many people come to know themselves much better and even cope with the day-to-day stresses of ordinary life.

Evidence of how much Fr George Preca was loved and treasured by one and all was the resounding acknowledgement he received on the day of his death. Tens of thousands of people passed by his coffin and attended his funeral.

This love has never ceased to increase and it seems that the more time that passes, the more we come to treasure this great man of our times.

Tonio Caruana is a member of the Society for Christian Doctrine

Dun Gorg u l-Vergni Marija

Every founder of a religious Congregation and Society propagated devotions to the Virgin Mary. This was clearly a sign that they were inspired by God. Like them, Blessed George Preca, was intensely and profoundly devout to the Mother of God.

Like all the saints, his devotion to the Virgin Mary was not superficial but sprang from an intense love. In fact Blessed George Preca had recourse to the main traditional devotions to the Virgin, which were in many instances practised in a superficial way and gave them their original meaning. As a Carmelite Tertiary, he felt himself bound to the scapular of the Lady of Mount Carmel. This zeal to the scapular emanated from the fact that when he was about four or five years old, on the feast of the Lady of Mount Carmel he was saved from nearly being drowned. He used to emphasize the words that the Virgin Mary said to Saint Simon Stock: 'Those who die wearing the scapular are saved from eternal damnation'. He wished that every Member, not only wore the scapular, but also encouraged others to wear it. In fact, in his sermons or talks he very often spoke of the scapular's importance.

Fr Preca also propagated devotion to the Miraculous Medal, that medal Our Lady gave to St Catherine Laboure. Fr Preca used to say, "Those who wear this medal are protected from bodily and spiritual evil". In fact he wished that the chapel at the Society's Headquarters be dedicated to this devotion. It is not by chance, that he was buried under its altar, and now, since May of this year, his body rests next to the same altar.

It is to be noted that Fr Preca was quite conscious that these devotions can be practised in a superficial way. He therefore emphasized that no one can sin having in mind that the Virgin will intercede for him. Such a behaviour, is absolutely an abuse and not a 'devotion'. Similar thoughts were expressed by St Louis Grignon de Montfort, who also wrote about seven different types of persons who, although venerate Mary, are not on the right path. St Louis clearly states that such persons are mistaken, for instead of loving Mary, they honour her in a false manner.

Another Marian devotion that our Founder treasured was the Holy Rosary. In order to encourage everyone to recite the rosary, he used to say: "Our Lady waits for our Rosary even up till midnight!". For him, the Rosary was not only a vocal prayer, but also a prayer of a meditative and contemplative nature. This can be seen clearly in his writing called The Mysteries of Light. A rapid glance at these mysteries will clearly show us that they do differ a lot form the ones we are used to. The first mystery is when Our Lord was baptized at the Jordan; the second consists in meditating the events of Christ's miracles; the third, when Jesus Christ taught the Beatitudes; The fourth about Our Lord's transfiguration; and the fifth is about the Last Supper.

Fr Preca loved the Rosary as a means of honouring the Virgin Mary to such an extent that he made it as a rule for every member of his society to recite five mysteries every day, and all the fifteen episodes on Marian feasts. He gave great importance to the meditative aspect of the Rosary as can be seen from what he wrote in his 'Spiritual Directory': 'Try to collect a set of holy pictures representing each mystery of the Rosary, and look at them while reciting it. In this way you will help your imagination to consider and contemplate this holy Rosary that Our Lady herself recommends so very much to the faithful of Jesus' (Directive No.604).

He devised four special programmes in honour of Our Lady so that the Members of the Society can be able to love her more in a genuine way. These programmes are that of the Annunciation (now the Feast of the Incarnation of Our Lord), that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Assumption, and the one in honour of the Immaculate Conception.

Fr Preca taught us that emotional devotion to God, to the Virgin Mary and to the saints is not necessarily of a sound nature. He wrote in his Gymnasium for the Spiritual Life, Instruction No.96 "Emotional devotion is dangerous because it seeks conceit and satisfaction of one's will rather than that of God. Where feelings are concerned, human nature and the devil should not be trusted, because of deception".

In his days, many people used to nurture deep religious feelings. Although not condemning them, Fr Preca used to stress and teach the people about the true Marian devotion. For this end he wrote some books specifically on Mary. These are the Benedicta, the Lapidary, and the Aula Sanctae Matris Virginis. In his Spiritual Directory, he dedicated sixteen directives to the prayer of the Rosary. In this manner he wanted our devotion to Our Lady to be founded only on the teaching of the Church. This is expressed quite well in the resolution of Page Thirty-seven of The Great Book when he writes: "We resolve to study the teaching of the Church on Mary as 'Heaven's Gate', that we may increase our trust in her".

Blessed George Preca used to tell his listeners that although we are all unsure about our salvation yet if we are truly devoted to Mary, we may keep this as a sign of our salvation. So he writes: "If you truly honour our Lady you have a sign of predestination" (Page Thirty-seven of The Great Book). A similar thought is found in The Year of the Lord for 2nd February: "My child; foster in yourself a great confidence in the Mother of God, my mother, because her intercession is very powerful and God never denies her anything. A true and genuine devotion to her is a sign of predestination. She reigns with me as queen of heaven and earth and as mother."

Within the Church, Fr George used to call Mary "the Gate of Heaven". In page 37 of The Great Book, Blessed Preca writes: "She is the true Gate, and it was only through her that Christ wanted to enter into this world, because by means of her, He wanted to become flesh and consequently to die, rise from the dead and ascend into heaven." Hewrote also a prayer, which we still recite during The Cult for our God: "Oh Virgin Mary, Oh Gate of Heaven, Oh Mother of Mercies, you are the delight of God so pray for us: for we know that He that constituted you as his Mother never denies you anything".

His love of Mary stemmed from the theological fact that she was the person who through her 'Fiat' the human nature of Christ was formed in her womb. In The year of the Lord, for 25th August he teaches us clearly this truth: "As a true human being, I am created, predestined and substantially a true Son of God from the time of my conception in the pure womb of my Virgin Mary." To emphasize further this theme, in 1936 he commissioned Chev. Raphael Bonnici Cali to paint a Madonna with open hands and the words Verbum Dei Caro factum est, written on the chest and Terror Domonum (The terror of devils) on her head. In 1949 he asked Bonnici Cali for the second time to make another painting, this time with some minor changes. The artist did so, and Fr Preca was very pleased with the end result. Like all Catholic authors and theologians, Fr Preca's devotion to the Virgin Mary was complimentary and not contradictory to the genuine love for Jesus Christ.

The fertile imagination of Fr Preca makes him so original in the way he writes about Our Lady, and expresses his love for her. A case in point is two of his books. In the Benedicta Fr Preca imagines that the Archangel Gabriel is narrating truths and facts about her, and in The Lapidary he speaks of a number of marble stones with messages inscribed on them, with St John the Evangelist depicting and helping the readers as they tour each of the inscriptions.

St Francis de Sales writes in the Introduction to Devout Life that saints are rather to be admired than imitated. Yet as for us, being the spiritual children of Fr George, we must try to imitate him in his devotion to the Virgin Mary. We can also learn from him to be uninterested in material gains, lead a genuine life, and dedicate our lives solely to the Love of God. This we can achieve through the help of the Blessed Virgin.

Angelo Xuereb sdc

Il-Misteri tad-Dawl

On 16th October 2002, His Holiness John Paul II began the 25th Anniversary of his Pontificate by publishing an Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (RVM), in which he inaugurated the Year of the Rosary, to last from October 2002 till October 2003. In this Letter the Pope also introduced five new mysteries of the rosary to be included with the traditional ones. These new mysteries, which he called The Mysteries of Light, or Luminous Mysteries, refer to the public life of Our Lord.

Blessed George Preca and the Mysteries of Light.

This addition to the decades of the rosary - which had been left untouched for over 400 years - has aroused a great deal of interest. Though the Letter contains enlightening and fresh teaching on the Rosary, it would seem that the media were almost exclusively interested in these new Luminous Mysteries. International journalists, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, gave prominence to them, adding that “the idea of the Pope could have come from the writings of a Maltese priest whom the Pope declared Blessed in 2001, Blessed George Preca.” Thus wrote The Guardian (16th October 2002), The Universe, The Tablet and other news agencies.

 

It is not yet known whether these new mysteries were actually taken from those proposed by Dun Gorg (as the new Blessed is affectionately known in Malta). But it is certainly a curious fact that, apart from some small differences, the five mysteries are identical to those proposed by Fr Preca. Interesting as well is the fact that the Pope has called these mysteries from Christ’s public life “the Mysteries of Light”, the same title given originally by Fr Preca when he first proposed them in 1957.

How did the Pope get to know about them?

If these new mysteries of the rosary have actually been taken from Blessed George Preca, the question still remains: how did they reach the Pope so that he could introduce them in his Apostolic Letter on the Rosary? Various suggestions have been offered, including the use of the internet. In fact, some Catholic websites in the English language on the rosary refer to the Mysteries of Light, which could have been put there by some Maltese user living abroad, probably in the United States.

It all started way back in 1957

Blessed Preca (1880-1962) founded a society of lay people to study the Christian doctrine and teach it to children and adults. He called it the Society of Christian Doctrine. In 1957 the Society celebrated the 50th anniversary of its birth, and Fr Preca was against any external celebrations: “it is enough to sing the Te Deum as a thanksgiving,” he said. But his collaborators persuaded him to have some modest celebrations as an encouragement to the Members.

Hence Fr Preca wanted that year to be an occasion of a deeper intimacy with God, and so he published his well-known Colloquies with God – sixty short but penetrating invocations which give us a good insight into Fr Preca’s interior life. During that same year he came up with the idea of these additional mysteries to the Rosary, taken from the public life of Our Lord. Originally Fr Preca had them published in a small leaflet for the private use of the Members of his Society.

Was this an original initiative?

I still remember quite vividly how our Founder introduced these mysteries during one of our weekly meetings with him. His face clearly showed the joy in his heart as he proposed these episodes from the public life of Jesus. Fr Preca did not say how they originated, whether they were his idea or taken from other reading. In the latter case he would have started, as usual, by saying: “See what I have found for you...” So it would seem the idea was completely his own. He told us that it was useful to meditate on the entire life of Christ, and that the Rosary was lacking this public ministry of the Lord. Fr Preca added that he really enjoyed praying these ‘new’ mysteries and reflecting about Him who said that He is “the Light of the world” (Jn 8,12).

The Mysteries of Light became “public property” in Malta after two publications in 1973 and 1987. As already mentioned above, they were later also put on the internet on websites regarding the Rosary.

The Mysteries of Light according to Blessed Preca and the Pope

The following are the Mysteries of Light as proposed by Fr Preca, and by the Pope, respectively.

According to Fr Preca

   1: When Our Lord Jesus Christ, after his baptism in the Jordan, was led into the desert.

   2: When Our Lord Jesus Christ showed, by word and miracles, that He is true God.

   3: When Our Lord Jesus Christ taught the Beatitudes on the mountain.

   4: When Our Lord Jesus Christ was transfigured on the mountain.

   5: When Our Lord Jesus Christ had his last Meal with the Apostles.

According to the Pope

   1: Jesus‘ Baptism in the river Jordan;

   2: His self-manifestation at the wedding at Cana;

   3: His proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion;.

   4: His transfiguration before the Apostles on Mount Tabor.

   5: His institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery.

If we compare the two versions we cannot fail to notice a great similarity between the Mysteries of Light as proposed by Blessed George Preca and as proposed by the Pope 45 years later. The differences between them are not as significant as may appear at first sight.

In the First Mystery Fr Preca adds, after the baptism in the Jordan, that Jesus went to the desert to spend 40 days in preparation for his mission. Those who know Blessed Preca well may as well guess why he added this pericope from the life of Jesus. Since Fr Preca composed these mysteries for the use of the Members of his Society, he probably wanted them to realize the importance of preparing oneself for the mission of evangelization.

In the Second Mystery Fr Preca proposed that we meditate how Jesus showed his divinity by word and miracles. The Pope proposes only one miracle, the wedding at Cana in which Jesus “revealed his glory” (John 2:11).

In the Third Mystery Dun Gorg brings in the Beatitudes, which have been called the “Constitution” of the Church he was to found. With the Beatitudes Jesus also “proclaimed the Kingdom of God”, and challenged us to change our style of living if we intend to follow him.

The Fourth and Fifth Mysteries of both texts are identical.

The teaching of Blessed Preca on the Rosary and RVM

Besides the new Mysteries of Light, in RVM there are other points which remind us of Fr Preca’s teaching on the rosary. For instance, the Pope suggests a moment of silent reflection after the mystery is mentioned (RVM, par. 31). Fr Preca not only practiced this himself, but he recommended it to others as well.

Fr Preca used to call the rosary “A school of learning”, especially because of the meditation on the mysteries of the life of our Lord. It is interesting to note that His Holiness in his Apostolic Letter refers five times to the rosary as a school of Mary (pars 1, 3 ,5, 14, 45).

Fr Preca composed various prayers to Mary, each one referring to a virtue connected with the mystery to be contemplated, which was to be recited before the Our Father. In  RVM (par 35) the Pope also suggests a similar prayer after the Gloria Patri.

Conclusion

We cannot exclude the fact that Fr Preca was also familiar with the writings of St Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort. Hence several insights must have come to him through this Marian saint. But, whatever the case may be, the providential and official inclusion in the Rosary of the Luminous Mysteries by the Pope does echo beautifully the other constant aspect of Fr Preca’s spirituality: his attachment to the Pope as universal Shepherd of the Catholic Church. Had Fr Preca been around, he would have rejoiced enormously! He would have made the Pope’s message his own and would have encouraged us all to sing to Mary "Rejoice, for you have found great favour with the Lord!" Fr Preca would have emphatically passed on these pressing words of the Holy Father: through the Rosary, “Mary helps us to learn the secret of Christian joy, reminding us that Christianity is above all 'euanghelion' -- good news -- which has its center, indeed its very content, in the person of Christ.”

by John Formosa

Mr John Formosa was up to 2004 the Secretary General of the Society of Christian Doctrine. During the lifetime of Fr Preca he received dictation of some of Fr Preca’s writings and is now in charge of a new edition of his works, of which 40 books have already been published

X'kien jghid Dun Gorg

p. Preca forbereder preken

 “Bqajt mohbi tassew ghal ghajnejn il-bniedem!”

 ”Jekk il-kreatura ma tista’ taghmel xejn, jista’ jkun li m’hemmx Omnipotenza f’min ghamel hwejjeg li ma kinux?”

 ”Int int Alla li m’ghandek bzonn hadd, u bzonn xejn.”

 ”Sinjur Alla, inti hawn u jiena fik.”

 ”Il-hsieb tal-prezenza ta’ Alla f’min tassew jemmen b’fidi ferma jrazzan kull xorta ta’ dnub.”

 ”Alla xhud, qieghed jisma’, qieghed jara.”

 ”X’inhu jaghmel Alla bhalissa? Alla qieghed ihobb.”

 ”Int dejjem l-istess o Alla, u s-snin tieghek ma jonqsux.”

 ”Alla huwa esseri sapjentissimu.”

 ”Ahna bhall-huta mdawra bl-ilma, f’Alla nghixu u fih niccalalqu.”

 ”Jekk is-sema  u l-art huma terribli ghall-kobor taghhom, jista’ jkun li m’huwiex kbir min halaqhom?”

 ”Oqghod dejjemmistrieh fil-hdan tal-providenza , ghax Alla jaf li l-bnedmin ghandhom bzonn jieklu u jixorbu u li jitghattew. Halli ’l dawk li ma jemmnux jithabtu bit-thabrik ghall-jum ta’ ghada, u jinkwetaw ruhhom bil-hsieb fuq l-ghajxien taghhom.”

 ”Jekk ir-raguni tal-bniedem ma tistax tapprova dak li hu hazin, kemm izjed Alla ma jistax jippremja ’l-hziena.”

 Ma hawnx isem li jnissel tama, hlewaa, imhabba u ferh daqs l-isem ta’ Missier. Ghalhekk Gesu’ Kristu jridna nsejhu ’l Alla b’dan l-isem biex ma nibzghux nersqu lejh.”

 ”O Sinjur Alla, jiena nistqarr li tassew rajt fik il-hniena tieghek, meta kelli nuza hniena ma xi hadd fil-bzonn tal-ghajnuna .”

 ”Min jaghraf tassew ’l Alla, ghandu imhabba kbira wisq lejh, hegga minghajr burdati, ringrazzjament u espressjonijiet ta’tifhir, hniena u moghdrija lejn kull bniedem, paci ma’ kulhadd, qalb tajba ma’ kulhadd.”

 ”Sinjur Alla, indawwar fejn indawwar wicci, ma nilmahx hlief il-providenza tieghek.”

 ”Tassew  li Inti Alla li tissaporti l-azzjonijiet hziena taghna l-bnedmin.”

 ”Inti habib ta’ dawk li jaghrfu x-xejn taghhom u tirrezisti lil dawk li jahsbu li huma xi haga, meta ma huma xejn.”

 ”Lanqas ma nixtieq nisma’ biss il-kelma dnub, imma jahasra ma inhix kapaci naghmel hlief id-dnub.”

 ”Sinjur Alla, jiena ibnek u Inti Missieri. B’dan il-hsieb jien ntaffi l-biza’ tal-qalb tieghi.”

 ”Sinjur Alla kemm jiena obbligat lejk. Nixitieq nirringrazzjak kif jisthoqqlok.”

 ”Sinjur Alla, nitolbok li tberikni, li tindukrani, u li ssalvani.”

 ”Il-vokazzjoni hija xi haga t’Alla; mhix ta’ min irid.”

 ”Int ghallimtna li minghajrek ma nistghu naghmlu xejn .”

 "Madonna jiena tieghek u inti tieghi. Insejjahlek u inti tisghmani.”

 "Ifrah O Vergni Marija, ghax int sibt grazzja quddiem Alla, u itlob ghalina li nirrikorru lejk ghas-salvazzjoni ta’ ruhna.”

 ”O Vergni Mbierka, inti kbira u ikbar milli int donnu ma jistax ikun, meta Alla ghazlek b’omm vera u naturali tieghu.”

 ”Ir-Regola tal-fidi u tal-morali ghandha tkun it-taghlim infallibli tal-Knisja.”

 ”Jiena mal-Knisja dejjem.”

 ”Qis li dejjem tigranfa mal-grazzja t’Alla.”

”Biex wiehed ihobb ’l Alla ghandu, jifhem li Alla huwa imhabba , u l-imhabba ma taghmilx deni, izda gid, jaghraf li kull kull qalb trid ohra; u Alla jrid li naghtuh qalbna kollha b’rikonoxxenza.”

 ”Hawn Alla, xhud; hawn Alla s-Sinjur tieghi; hawn Alla, il-gid tieghi.”

 ”Jekk int hfirt lil bniedem iehor ghax talbek, kemm aktar Alla jahfer lil min jitolbu mahfra.”

 ”Qeghdin fid-dinja biex naghmu l-volonta’ t’Alla.”

 ”Jiena studjajt lingwi u affarijiet ohrajn, u xejn ma swieli. Swieli biss meta bdejt nimmedita fuq il-mewt.”

 ”Il-bniedem ma jissugrax jidneb meta jahseb li l-mewt hija zgura u tigi darba biss.”

 ”Sinjur Alla, ahfirli qabel ma tiggudikani.”

 ”Bosta jitqarrqu, billi f’sahhithom; jahsbu li boghod is-siegha,u intant tkun fuqhom.”

 ”Jahsbu jew ma jahsbux fil-mewt, xorta wahda, f’hinu jiehdu d-daqqa tal-mingel taghha.”

 ”Alla qatt ma jabbanduna lil dawk li jfittxuh.”

Artikli fis-sena tal-Kanonizzazzjoni 2007

Our own St George

(The Times of Malta)

We borrow the heading used by this newspaper's editorial of February 25 with good reason. The popular reaction, as well as that of our leaders, to the news of the canonisation of Dun Gorg Preca on June 3, has been ecstatic. We comment in brief just for the record as it is hardly possible to add new reactions.

There is no other Maltese who did so much good for our people. During these last 100 years since il-Muzew was set up, hundreds of thousands have directly benefited from the evangelising and catechising mission of its members. And all this thanks to Dun Gorg.

He believed in the people when they were considered by many as good only for praying, obeying and paying. For him the laity was not just the object of pastoral action; they were the subject. It had to take decades and an ecumenical council to make the Universal Church adopt the insight that Dun Gorg had.

He believed that the Bible should not be a closed book open only to a select few. For him the Bible was the bread and butter of every active Catholic. Thousands got to know the Bible thanks to him. The teaching of the sentenzi of the Lehen il-Mahbub (what an endearing way to describe Our Lord!) imprinted on the minds of so many young boys and girls the words of Jesus that accompany them all their lives.

In the late Sixties, Vatican II pushed forward the idea that the Bible was meant to be in the hands of all. It was a revolutionary step but one which the humble Maltese priest from Hamrun had taken decades before.

Dun Gorg believed in the value of the Maltese language and of the working classes. No one was too low in status not to be able to carry out the lofty mission of teaching the Gospel. The Dockyard was fertile ground for his ideas. His myriad publications in Maltese gave status to our language. Ours is not the language that was best adapted to the kitchen, as many "cultured" personalities believed in the Twenties and Thirties. For Dun Gorg ours is a language that can be a most useful medium through which to impart the loftiest theological and spiritual ideas.

We shall stop here in singing his praises.

His canonisation is a great blessing from heaven. The second one showered on this small island in the space of a few weeks. The enthusiasm generated by the choice of Patri Pawl as our Archbishop was the first great grace. That initial enthusiasm has now been bolstered by this news.

The signs of a new beginning are very clear. Let us do our best to make them flower.

 

The paradox that was Dun Gorg

Mgr Laurence Gatt

Dun Gorg Preca was born ten years after the suspension of the First Vatican Council and died three months before the opening of Vatican Council II.

To all intents and purposes he may be regarded to be a pre-conciliar priest. He never said Mass or the Divine Office in a vernacular language; he celebrated his Mass with his back to the people; he probably never thought that the Canon of the Mass could ever be changed and... he never wore a clergyman suit. He was not even the type of priest who would push for or even dream of such changes. The impression he gave was that of a timid, average and, to the superficial observer, quite innocuous priest.

March 7 this year marks the first centenary of the embarking on an adventure whose magnitude Dun Gorg probably did not foresee. In the words of Eugenio Borg, the first Superior General of Fr Preca's association, "on the following Thursday, March 7, 1907, we (Fr Preca and the group) went into our place for the first time. There we held our first lesson. From that very first time, people got to know that it was there they would find us." Here Gegè (as Mr Borg was known) refers to the opening of the first MUSEUM centre.

The association was a complete novelty. The idea, although seemingly harmless, was original and rather daring. What it boiled down to was that the young men that Dun Gorg had gathered around him were to be asked to go and teach and preach. The idea was no less than revolutionary. Only priests taught in church or, at any rate, matters religious. Lay people had only to listen, pay and pray!

And here was this young priest entrusting the teaching of catechism to laymen, dockyard workers, some of whom were very scantily educated. A few years later Dun Gorg entrusted the teaching of the Gospel to women "preachers". Giannina Cutajar of Paola, who later became the first Superior General of the female section of the Society, was only 16 when she started giving public talks on religious subjects.

Fr Preca was, of course, a churchman but he was never churchy. It may be said of him that although he was a man of prayer and would spend long periods of time in prayer, he would never loiter in the sacristy and advised his followers not to follow the example of those who would frequent the sacristy, hear and spread the latest news and misuse a place which of its very name is meant to be sacred.

Dun Gorg had his school education at the Lyceum, a state-run secondary school, and so was not necessarily familiar with priests and religious men and women. He insisted with the MUSEUM members that priests should be kept in high esteem and reverence but the Society was to be run strictly by lay people. The priest assists but does not direct the Society.

Dun Gorg's men and women were to be fully-fledged Christians. This acknowledgement of the full status that lay people have in the Church had to wait until Vatican II emerged to the surface of life in the Church. It should not surprise anybody that the first years of the Society of Christian Doctrine were spent in troubled waters and for a short time the MUSEUM was banned. Its founder complied with his superiors' order. The Society was suppressed for a short while. It was some more enlightened parish priests who persuaded the bishop of Malta to allow the MUSEUM centres to reopen.

In 1915 the new bishop was a Benedictine monk coming from a Scottish abbey. He is said to have asserted that the Society would never be officially approved in his time. In 1932 it was the same Archbishop Caruana who, surprised by the number of priestly and religious vocations flourishing in an association run by lay people, officially approved the Society of Christian Doctrine, known as MUSEUM.

Dun Gorg never left Malta's shores but would have loved to see the Pope in Rome. His Society is characterised by absolute attachment to the Holy See. The original name given to its members was papidi, the Pope's followers, a name which understandably was soon abandoned.

The irony of history smiled on Dun Gorg, who never made it to meet the Holy Father, but was beatified on May 9, 2001, by Pope John Paul II who personally worshipped Dun Gorg's remains in the MUSEUM headquarters' chapel at Blata l-Bajda.

The timid, apparently innocuous priest who very unobtrusively gave rise to a lay organisation 100 years ago, prepared the ground for the challenges the Church is facing not only in these Islands but all over, and Preca's Society is spreading to faraway countries as Dun Gorg had dreamt "to the whole world".

Dun Gorg u Personaggi

Dun Gorg u Mons Pietru Pawl Saydon 

“Kotra kbira ta' huti l-Maltin ma jafux jaqraw hlief bi lsienhom, u qatt u qatt ma hassew f'qalbhom il-hlewwa li jisimghu fi lsienhom il-kelma t'Alla hekk kif harget minn fommU mijiet u eluf ta' snin ilu. GHalihom l-ewwel ma hsibt fix-xoghol tieghi. Izda barra minn dawn, jien haddant fil-hsieb tieghi il-Maltin kollha, li jhobbu u jghozzu lsienhom.”

Hekk kiteb Saydon fil-Kelmtejn Qabel ghall-Ktieb il-Genesi, l-ewwel ktieb tal-Bibbja li qaleb ghall-Malti fl-1929. Mons. Pietru Pawl Saydon (1895-1971) ghamel “miraklu” meta rnexxielu jittraduci l-Iskrittura shiha wahdu mill-original, xoghol li kulmeta sar, dejjem sar f'tim maghmul minn diversi studjuzi. Din it-traduzzjoni swiet lil Saydon tletin sena shah ta' hidma u dedikazzjoni, bejn l-1929 u l-1959, traduzzjoni li warajha Saydon tilef ghaqlu u li ghaliha huwa ddedika r-rizorsi tieghu kollha, kemm intellettwali kif ukoll finanzjarji, billi hareg minn butu l-ispejjez kollha tal-pubblikazzjoni. Bhala Professur ta' l-Iskrittura fl-Universita` ta' Malta, Saydon ha sehem attiv f'diversi kungressi internazzjonali, li laqqghuh ma' studjuzi Bibblici ta' fama mondjali, Kattolici, Protestanti u Lhud. Bejn l-1932 u l-1962 attenda mhux inqas minn sbatax -il kungress Bibbliku fl-aqwa universitajiet bhal Cambridge u Oxford. Kien il-fundatur ta' l-GHaqda Bibblika Maltija, membru ta' l-International Association for the Study of the Old Testament u membru tas-Society of Biblical Literature ta' l-Istati Uniti ta' l-Amerika, fost l-ohrajn. Saydon ikkumenta sitt kotba tat-Testment il-Qadim f'kummentarju celebri taht l-awspici tal-Knisja Kattolika Ingliza. Dan il-Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture gie ppubblikat f'Londra u Edinbera fl-1953.

Saydon kellu ammirazzjoni kbira ghal Dun Gorg Preca, wiehed mill-ftit li ghenuh biex ibigh it-traduzzjoni tieghu tal-Bibbja billi kien ihajjar lis-socji tal-M.U.S.E.U.M. jixtruha. Saydon halla d-drittijiet kollha ta' l-istampa tat-traduzzjoni tieghu tal-Bibbja lil din is-Socjetà li fis-snin disghin regghet ippubblikat it-tieni edizzjoni tal-Bibbja kif maqluba minn Saydon bin-noti riveduti ta' Dun Karm Attard.

Dun Gorg u Padre Pio

Dun Gorg qatt ma siefer u lanqas Padre Pio, izda... F'Gunju 1961 Dun Alwig Micallef mar ghand Dun Gorg biex iqerr u wara qallu li kien sejjer ghand Patri Piju f'San Giovanni Rotondo (Italja). Dun Gorg bhala penitenza tal-qrara tah "9 Gloria Patri ghall-unur ta' San Mikiel biex jehilsek mill-perikli tar-ruh u tal-gisem, u jekk jista' jkun ghidhom kuljum." Meta Dun Alwig mar iqerr ghand Padre Pio dan tah l-istess penitenza bl-istess kliem preciz. Darba meta xi socju semmielu lil Padre Pio, Dun Gorg qallu  "Xi kultant Patri Piju jikkomunika mieghi." Tliet snin qabel, fl-1958, Padre Pio kien baghat tislija u barka specjali ghal Dun Gorg mal-perit Malti Edgar Caruana Montaldo li kien jghix l-Italja. Meta mar ikellem lil Dun Gorg dan ta' l-ahhar lanqas tah cans jitkellem u qallu li l-benedizzjoni ta' Padre Pio diga kien irceviha. "Ghax ahna sikwit nikkomunikaw bejnietna," qallu .

Dun Gorg u Madre Tereza ta' Kalkutta

Fr Guzepp Fenech in the Catholic magazine Knisja Missjunarja (Missionary Church) of July 2001 wrote that he visited India in 1985. He met with various Maltese missionaries,.but he also met with Mother Theresa.

As he was involved in the Beatification and Canonisation commission for Dun Gorg Preca, the Maltese priest who was beatified last May by the Pope in Malta, at that time he asked Mother Theresa to pray so that it would not be long before Dun Gorg would be beatified.

Her prophetic answer was the following (the reproduced words are Mother Theresa's): "The Holy Father will come to Malta and beatify your priest."

One can confirm these words by reading Knisja Missjunarja of January 1988, page 14.

At that time, Dun Gorg had not even been declared venerable by the Pope and the cause was still at its early stages. Many crucial testimonies had yet to be heard.

Fr Fenech felt shivers when he heard this prophecy for the first time. Only somebody with God's help could have said something like that, eventually confirmed on 9th May 2001, when the Maltese gathered on the Floriana Granaries (il-Fosos) to listen to His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Mercieca ask His Holiness Pope John Paul to declare Dun Gorg blessed, together with another two Maltese, the Cleric Nazju Falzon and Sister Maria Adeodata Pisani.

Moments later after some silence the Pope, seated as the Father of all Christians, was heard declaring as Blessed, Dun Gorg, Nazju Falzon and Adeodata Pisani; followed by a joyous outburst of clapping by the Maltese.

At that moment Fr Fenech felt that same shiver all over his body. It was as if he could hear Mother Theresa tell him "Didn't I tell you back in 1985?"

 

Alfred Sant fuq Dun Gorg

Irrankat matul dil-gimgha, l-istennija ghal avveniment uniku fl-istorja ta’ pajjizna – il-kanonizzazzjoni ta’ qaddis Malti. Jien kont hsibt li San Publius kien l-ewwel qaddis Malti u hemm rumanz tajjeb hafna miktub minn Kilin li tani l-fehma li stajna nikkunsidraw lill-qaddis patrun tal-Furjana bhala tali. Imma nies aktar esperti minni f’din il-materja kkonvincewni mod iehor. Dun Gorg Preca bil-hajja ezemplari li ghex, f’temp qasir hafna wara mewtu, “wassal” lill-awtoritajiet tal-Vatikan biex jaghrfu li kellhom ghalfejn jiddikjarawh qaddis – l-ewwel qaddis Malti. Hi aktar sinjifikattiva dil-bicca minhabba l-fatt li Dun Gorg ghex kwazi fi zmienna u rnexxielu b’hidmietu, jwettaq attività liema bhalha biex jippromwovi l-kuxjenza religjuza f’pajjizna. Fuq kollox, ghamel dan billi hadem fost il-klassi tal-haddiema. Minflok ghajjar liz-zghazagh haddiema “teologi tal-boiler suit” jew injorahom, Dun Gorg fittex li jimmobilizzahom. Tista’ taqbel jew ma taqbilx mal-progett tieghu: imma trid tammira l-vizjoni li kellu u l-impenn li biha wettaqha. Illum se nkun qieghed nattendi, flimkien ma’ ohti, ic-cerimonja li se ssir fil-Vatikan u li matulha l-Papa Benedettu se jissigilla l-qdusija ta’ Monsinjur Preca (titlu li dejjem ra kif se jwarrab)æ inqisha okkazjoni ta’ l-akbar importanza ghall-gens Malti.

Wirja

Zort il-wirja li ttellghet fir-residenza ta’ San Vicenz de Paule dwar il-hajja u l-hidma ta’ Dun Gorg. Fiha ssib kampjuni ta’ pubblikazzjonijiet li hareg matul hajtu, ritratti dwar il-grajjiet li ghex u hafna u hafna oggetti ohra ta’ l-akbar interess. Il-wirja ttellghet b’impenn u b’sengha. L-organizzaturi jixirqilhom kull tifhir. Bonus extra ghalija kien li l-wirja ttellghet mhux boghod mis-sala fejn jinsab ziju tieghi. Iz-zjara tatni cans li nzur lilu wkoll. Kien ili ftit ma narah.

Preca

The canonisation of Dun Gorg this Sunday in Rome gives the huge majority of the Maltese people a great lift. True, we live in a secularised age, where the pomp and solemnity of Church ceremonies affect individuals - especially the young - less and less. However, it is also true that the values projected by the Catholic Church, even if they are mostly honoured in the breach on a day-to-day basis, still have a vast potential to mobilise emotion and genuine goodwill. If it were only for this, all of us would do well to consider this coming Sunday a big day for Malta.

There is however more to it than such considerations. True again, in our day and even among Catholics, the concept of sainthood has become less personally overpowering than it was for our fathers. Increasingly, saints are being seen as role models who gave witness during their lives on how one should serve God and/or one's fellow beings with faith, hope and charity. The belief that, once they are canonised, saints act as protectors and as intermediaries between the Godhead and the individual is being downplayed and I would guess will be further downplayed in the future. For, surely, the best relationship with a personal God that one believes in is a direct one.

As a role model, Dun Gorg, who died in 1962, appears to many of us today as far removed from the circumstances in which we live. His lifestyle and language simply do not fit into the consumerist and hedonistic framework that was promoted in Malta since 1987, by an administration that, of all things, boasted about its Christian democratic credentials. Such an assessment, however, if dismissive of Dun Gorg's work, would be quite superficial. One has to understand his life project within the context of his times.

To start with, one has to understand that he was a Catholic mystic and how that fact guided his life choices. He had a personalised relationship with the God he believed in, and he lived fully according to the potential and the constraints that this relationship brought into his life. Being a mystic is not the same as being an ascetic; the mystic "condition" allows full scope for interaction with, and involvement in, the concrete life of the world and fellow creatures. A "Catholic" mystic is, moreover, one who, despite the personalisation of one's relationship with God, will accept to subordinate it, as necessary, to the strictures and discipline of the organised Church. S/he does so without any sense of contradiction, in the full belief that, eventually, the experience to which s/he is giving witness to will be fully recognised and promoted by the Church itself.

Obedience, not rebellion, is the watchword of the "Catholic" mystic. In fact, Dun Gorg accepted to put his projects in abeyance for years till they were authorised, and he could then move forward with the setting up of his teaching society, the Muzew, with the full backing of the Church hierarchy, or almost so.

Which brings us to the originality of his project. It was based on spreading education, chiefly in the domain that interested him, namely religious belief and practice. It also defined a capillary approach to religious mobilisation, which effectively short-circuited the clergy by relying on young working class activists. They were trained to read and understand the Bible and spread its precepts plus Catholic doctrine directly to children and families.

If anything, Dun Gorg's approach was anti-elitist. Its reliance on working class talent and on the importance of education went against the grain of the times, when education and social mobilisation were supposed to be the province of the middle middle to upper middle classes, preferably in the professional stream.

Whether Dun Gorg wanted to or not (and it is clear that he did not), his approach had the potential to subvert the status quo; which was why initially his project met with so much reticence from the Church authorities. The latter's alignment with the political and social status quo remained a strict fact of life under British rule. So, for some time, the Muzew proposal had hung fire.

Indeed, there is a clear parallelism between what Malta's first saint wanted to do and what the political and social activist Manwel Dimech sought to achieve. Dimech was no mystic though he was far from being the criminal that some local "elites" have projected him as, both then and now. His strategy to raise awareness about the rights of the Maltese as a people and as workers was also premised on the creation of capillary networks among young workers with the aim of promoting education and critical thinking, followed by reform. While Dun Gorg's values were based on those of a traditional, socially moderate Catholicism, Dimech's were deeply anchored in the ideas of the European Enlightenment.

Dimech was vilified for most of his lifetime and died a forgotten and lonely exile in Egypt. Dun Gorg ended up as a revered (grand)father figure, with the evangelical society he had founded well established all over the islands. Throughout, the Muzew continued to draw its strength from working and lower-income families. For long years, its members attracted the derision of upwardly mobile or well-placed elites. Yet, they have successfully adapted with the times and restructured their modes of operation to fit in with today's realities. It so happens that Dun Gorg managed to create an organisation able to show flexibility in the face of change, while remaining anti-elitist. That says a lot about his practical acumen.

Independently of his "elevation" to sainthood, Dun Gorg's life merits serious study not just from a religious perspective but also from a strictly "secular" one, which tries to understand his life project as a constructive effort to change the Maltese reality. I came to this conclusion recently while writing a rather long article on the subject for a periodical issued by the Muzew. The point is that, beyond the state of holiness attained by Dun Gorg Preca due to his own merits in the religious field, one must also recognise his "material" success in the domains of organisational development and leadership.

Preca's language

A seminar held by the Fondazzjoni Mikiel Anton Vassalli discussed Dun Gorg Preca's 'use of the Maltese language in his mission and the effect it had on the present':

 

Malta Labour Party leader Dr Alfred Sant called Dun Gorg the first Maltese Methodist because he broke away from the rituals and norms of the Church of the time by entrusting the teaching of catechism to working class laymen. A century later, he gained the endorsement of the Vatican where he will be canonised in June.

Dun Gorg Preca’s life work was discussed yesterday from a different perspective as academics and the Mikiel Anton Vassalli Foundation reviewed his contribution to society and the Maltese language. The seminar entitled “Dun Gorg: The teaching of Maltese and the present”, dealt with Dun Gorg’s use of the Maltese language in his mission and the effect it had on the present.

Dr Sant said that although Dun Gorg was a mystic he was also a communicator. One cannot say he was an ascetic, as he was a down-to-earth person who could interact with society. Dr Sant drew a comparison between Manuel Dimech and Dun Gorg. Both focused their work on the working class and started teaching in Maltese. “Dun Gorg was by no means a follower of Dimech,” said Dr Sant, adding that Dun Gorg was a radical, both in his mysticism and in his determination to entrust the teaching of catechism to working class laymen, which at the time was done solely by priests.

Frans Sammut, author and teacher, spoke about Maltese society a century ago when the Society of Christian Doctrine (MUSEUM) was set up by Dun Gorg. At the time, the Church was very suspicious of the young priest’s initiative to teach working class people. In a society marred by social divisions and the ongoing struggle over which language should be adopted as Malta’s national language, Dun Gorg succeeded in founding a society made up of working class laymen who taught catechism to working class people. “At the time, it was scandalous,” said Mr Sammut, “yet today it is seen as the norm.”..

MUSEUM member and teacher Joseph Buttigieg said it is very ironic that people are celebrating a man who wanted to be buried in an unmarked grave and be forgotten forever. Yet Malta cannot ignore a man who was its great benefactor in his role as an innovator, a leader and an educator. Dun Gorg, asserted Mr Buttigieg, was a great believer in the democratisation of education; it was he after all who said that “learning is the fount from which all goodness flows”. Mr Buttigieg said Dun Gorg chose the Maltese language to reach all people, because as Mgr Pietru Pawl Saydon said:“Dun Gorg’s sermons have no frills.”...

 

The Times of Malta:

The meek evangelist
 

The decision by the Postulation for the Canonisation of Blessed Gorg Preca to distribute mementoes of the saintly cleric to everyone is a welcome move that will further unite the Maltese population - and not just the faithful, one is tempted to add - behind the Church in Malta as it celebrates this big event. 

The canonisation itself, which auspiciously is taking place 100 years after the founding of the society for Christian doctrine, comes as a much-needed morale booster for the Maltese Church. 

As the Catholic religion comes under assault by the relentless waves of relativism, secularism, hedonism and other forms of materialism, the choice of Dun Gorg as Malta's first saint is providential. This momentous and historic event will be an invaluable opportunity to know more about the qualities of this apparently nondescript priest. 

Dun Gorg's life was rooted in prayer, which reflected itself in his almost abject humility and self abasement as well as absolute loyalty to his superiors. 

He was ahead of his time in realising that faith without instruction and education would not stand up to the challenges facing religion. He was disturbed by the widespread ignorance of his people. He felt that God wanted him to teach them and his profound religiosity gave him the courage to throw himself heart and soul into this apostolic mission and in a most unorthodox manner. 

Despite a frail physical constitution, he worked tirelessly to evangelise young lay people. His faith was infectious and he set up a group of lay catechists who were well grounded in the knowledge of their religion so that they could, in turn, in their everyday environments, reach out and educate others. 

He insisted with his followers: "We do not only preach the faith, we have to live it". He insisted that humility and the readiness to be scorned and vilified for the open pronouncement of their values was a cross they had to embrace willingly. Celibacy was an indispensable requirement as they had to be totally dedicated to their vocation. A life of sacrifice and self renunciation had to be their distinctive attribute. 

The history of his movement was marked by an upward struggle where, time and again, the success of his venture seemed destined to fail. Almost immediately after setting up the first centres of catechism, he was told to close them down. His immediate obedience made his superiors retract but shortly later his activities were placed under close and intense scrutiny. Yet he persevered. 

One wonders what the status of religious awareness in Malta would be today were it not for his dedication and pioneering spirit. 

In today's world of pluralism and the subtle invasiveness of the mass media promoting ideas that are the very antithesis of the Christian philosophy and what it stands for, the need for the effective catechesis of the members of the Church is more crucial than ever. Dun Gorg was always distressed by the fact that so many people who profess to be Catholics restricted their belief to outward religiosity while following a lifestyle that was no different from that of the world. 

The Church has to take stock of its shortcomings in the formation of the upcoming generations and recognise that despite its considerable resources and Malta's undisputed Catholic heritage a lot needs to be analysed and a lot more needs to be done. 

One hopes the occasion of Dun Gorg's sainthood will serve as an opportunity for a revitalisation of his ideals and not just be an occasion of celebration and self congratulation.

Diskors tal-Papa fil-Beatifikazzjoni ta' Dun Gorg (silta)

'Inroddu hajr lill-Mulej ghal tjubitu, ghall-ghegubijiet tieghu mal-bnedmin.' (Salm 107:15)

Gheziez huti, 

B'ferh kbir ergajt gejt f'din il-gzira tant ghal qalb San Pawl, l-Appostlu tal-gnus, u dejjem ghal qalb is-Successur ta' Pietru...

Il-wasla ta' l-appostlu fuq ix-xtajta taghkom kienet drammatika. San Luqa rrakkontalna l-vjagg fil-maltemp u kif ma setghu jaghmlu xejn il-bahhara u l-passiggieri hekk kif il-gifen inkalja u beda jinqasam (ara Atti 27:39-44). U smajna b'liema mod inhelsu: 'Meta hlisna mill-gharqa, sirna nafu li l-gzira kien jisimha Malta.' (Atti 28:1) Fil-provvidenza ta' Alla, Malta kellha thaddan l-Evangelju fil-jiem bikrija tal-Kristjanezmu. 'Inroddu hajr lill-Mulej ghal tjubitu, ghall-ghegubijiet tieghu mal-bnedmin.' (Salm 107:15) 

Migburin fuq il-Fosos tal-Furjana, madwar l-Altar tas-Sagrificcju tal-Mulej, l-Isqof ta' Ruma jinghaqad maghkom fit-tifhir lit-Trinita' l-aktar Qaddisa ghax-xhieda taghkom ghall-Evangelju tul is-sekli. B'fedelta' lejn l-Appostlu Pawlu, missierkom fil-fidi, intom maghrufin mal-Knisja kollha ghad-devozzjoni u l-hegga missjunarja taghkom. Malta ghandha wirt nisrani mill-akbar li tieghu intom ghandkom ragun tkunu kburin, imma dak il-wirt hu wkoll don li jitlob responsabbilta' kbira (ara Luqa 12:48).

Fit-Tieni Ittra tieghu lil Timotju, San Pawl ifakkar lil dak li hadem mieghu biex jiftakar 'f'Gesu' Kristu, li qam mill-imwiet.. Jekk ahna mitna mieghu, ghad nghixu mieghu wkoll.' (2 Tim. 2:8,12) Dal-kliem ghozzewh bil-qalb iz-zewg ulied u l-bint adottiva ta' Malta li ghadni kif ibbeatifikajt. Il-Knisja kollha tifrah maghkom ghaliex, fost l-ghadd kbir ta' nisa u rgiel qaddisa minn kull qasam tal-hajja fl-istorja ta' Malta, dawn it-tlieta gew maghzula biex inqimuhom b'mod specjali u nsiru nixbhuhom. Mill-genna jinghaqdu maghna fil-pellegrinagg taghna fuq l-art, u permezz tat-talb taghhom quddiem it-tron ta' Alla jghinuna biex nitilghu l-gholja tal-qdusija li kisbu bis-sahha ta' l-Ispirtu s-Santu. 

Mill-mewt tieghu fl-1962, ftit qabel il-ftuh tal-Koncilju Vatikan it-Tieni, l-Beatu Gorg Preca kien maghruf ghall-qdusija tieghu kemm f'Malta kif ukoll kulfejn ghexu l-Maltin. Dun Gorg kien pijunier fil-qasam tal-katekezi u mexxa 'l quddiem is-sehem tal-lajci fl-apostolat, dak li l-Koncilju kellu jishaq fuqu b'mod partikulari. B'hekk sar bhallikieku t-tieni missier ta' Malta fil-fidi. Filwaqt li haddan it-tjubija u l-umilta', u filwaqt li haddem bis-shih it-talenti tal-mohh u l-qalb li tah Alla, Dun Gorg ghamel tieghu l-kliem ta' Pawlu lil Timotju: 'Dak kollu li smajt minghandi bix-xhieda ta' hafna, ghaddih lil nies ta' min jorbot fuqhom biex dawn jistghu jghallmuh lill-ohrajn.' (2 Tim 2:2). Is-Socjeta' tad-Duttrina Nisranija li hu waqqaf qed tkompli x-xoghol tieghu ta' xhieda u ta' evangelizzazzjoni f'dawn il-gzejjer u mkejjen ohra.

Mhux 'il boghod minn hawn, iz-zaghzugh seminarista Gorg Preca sema' l-kliem profetiku ta' qassis ta' fiducja: 'Gorg, meta tikber, hafna li jibzghu minn Alla jingabru madwarek. Int tkun barka ghalihom u huma ghalik.' Illum il-Knisja f'Malta ssejjah lil Gorg Preca 'Beatu', ghaliex taf li ghaliha hu ghajn ta' dawl u qawwa. Fil-kitbiet tieghu fuq l-umilta' - il-ktieb tieghu L-Iskola tal-Manswetudni, u l-Ittra tieghu - Dun Gorg iheggeg lil shabu l-insara biex jimxu fuq l-ezempju tal-Mulej Imsallab u jahfru kull offiza (ara Luqa 23:34). Messagg bhal dan, ta' rispett lejn xulxin u mahfra, mhuwiex hekk mehtieg illum f'Malta u fid-dinja? Iva tabilhaqq, l-umilta' tal-Beatitudni ghandha l-qawwa li tbiddel il-familja, il-post tax-xoghol u l-iskejjel, l-ibliet u rhula, il-politika u l-kultura. Tista' tbiddel id-dinja! '}enjin ta' qalbhom helwa, ghax huma jkollhom b'wirthom l-art.' (Matt. 5,5)

Magister, utinam sequatur evangelium universus mundus (Mghallem, mhux li kien id-dinja kollha timxi wara l-Evangelju): it-talba tal-Beatu Gorg hija mera perfetta tal-kmand missjunarju tal-Mulej: 'Morru mela aghmlu dixxipli... U ghallmuhom iharsu dak kollu li ordnjatilkom jien. (Matt. 28:19-20) Matul is-sena tal-Gublew il-Kbir, fil-Knisja kollha regghet inhasset mill-gdid l-arja friska u dejjiema tal-hniena u l-imhabba tal-Missier li baghat lil Ibnu l-Wahdieni ghas-salvazzjoni taghna. Ma kinetx il-kapacita' ta' Dun Gorg li jikkomunika din l-arja friska tal-messagg nisrani li ghamlitu l-appostlu kbir li kien? Mhux dan li Malta ghandha bzonn illum: li kleru, religjuzi, katekisti, ghalliema jxandru b'entuzjazmu l-Ahbar it-Tajba ta' dak li l-Missier ghamel ghalina fi Kristu? Fiz-zerniq ta' millennju gdid, il-Knisja thares lejk, Malta, biex tghix is-sejha tieghek apostolika u missjunarja b'hegga dejjem akbar!

Malta, Malta! Int ircevejt hafna mill-ministeru ta' San Pawl u x-xhieda tal-Beatu Dun Gorg, tal-Beatu Nazju Falzon u tal-Beata Adeodata. Hekk kif timxi lejn il-gejjieni, ibqa' fidila ghall-wirt li hallewlek! Imxi wara Kristu b'qalb shiha u qatt tibza' tixhed ghall-verita' li ssalva u ghall-valuri li jwasslu ghall-hajja! Jalla l-Vergni Marija, Omm il-Verb maghmul bniedem, timxi mieghek u tharsek dejjem, biex qatt ma tonqos li 'trodd hajr lill-Mulej ghal tjubitu, ghall-ghegubijiet tieghu mal-bnedmin.' (Salm 107:15)

Viva l-Beatu Gorg Preca!
Viva l-Beatu Nazju Falzon!
Viva l-Beata Adeodata Pisani! Amen.

Il-Laqgha tal-Papa Gwanni Pawlu II mas-socji tal-Museum - 9 ta' Mejju 2001

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. In the joy of Easter I make my own the words of the Risen Lord: "Peace be with you! Il-paci maghkom! I thank you for your warm welcome. It shows that the hospitality which once embraced the Apostle Paul (cf. Acts 28:2) is still to be found in Malta. I am grateful for the gracious words spoken on behalf of both branches of the Society by the Superior General, who expressed all your love for the Church and for the Successor of Peter.

2. The island of Malta is a rock rising from the sea, where the soil is often thin and the sun harsh. Even this place where we are meeting bears the name Blata l-Bajda, the "White Rock". Yet down the centuries Malta has been extraordinarily generous and fertile in the deeper ways of the Spirit. The unshakeable faith of the Maltese people has ensured that this rock has been the good soil of which the Gospel speaks. In this soil, Blessed Gorg Preca planted the Society of Christian Doctrine, where it has flourished in the century of its life. Unlike the fig-tree of the Gospel story which we have just heard (cf. Lk 13:6-9), you have produced fruit in abundance, and for that we give glory to God and thank him here today.

Not only did Dun Gorg sow the seed; he tended the sapling and fed the young tree so that it would grow strong and fruitful, as it has. You have flourished because you have roots reaching deep into Christ, and because you have been well nurtured by Dun Gorg's life of holiness.

To understand your vocation more deeply, consider the fig-tree. Its new leaves are a sign that summer is at hand (cf. Lk 21:29-31); in the hot season, its shade provides shelter from the sun; it gives abundant sweet fruit as food; and Scripture says that its fruit has healing power (cf. Is 38:21). This is an image of what you are called to be! As catechists, you are to provide sweet nourishment for all who hunger for God; you are to bring healing to those who are suffering for lack of light and love. If you do these things, you will truly be a sign of the springtime which the Holy Spirit is now preparing for the Church.

3. Wherever Dun Gorg went to preach he was followed by crowds of people. They were captivated by his words. Why? It was because they recognized in the preaching of Dun Gorg the voice of Jesus himself. It was the Lord to whom they were listening; they were drawn by the irresistible attractiveness of Christ who alone, they knew, could satisfy the deepest longing of their hearts. The beauty of holiness which is found supremely in Jesus and is reflected in today’s new Beatus will never fail to draw the human heart. It is certain that if we can show forth the face of the Risen Lord to the world then we shall touch and win souls in ways that will be surprising!

4. It is in the depths of contemplation that we discover "the glory of God which is in the face of Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). That is why your rule of life urges you to pray often and to meet regularly with your spiritual director, who serves as guide and companion on the path of your fidelity. To contemplate the face of Christ is to be filled with spiritual energy for the mission entrusted to you. Like Saint Paul, from contemplation you are called to go forth as missionaries: not just as teachers but as witnesses who can speak with power because you can say, like the first disciples: "We have seen the Lord!" (Jn 20:25). It was Pope Paul VI who wrote that "the people of our day are more impressed by witnesses than by teachers, and if they listen to these it is because they also bear witness" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 41). This was true of Dun Gorg in a wonderful way, and it must also be true of you, his spiritual children.

In his Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul writes that God "was pleased to reveal his Son in me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles" (1:16). He does not speak of Christ revealed "to me" but of Christ revealed "in me". Once Jesus reveals himself to Saul on the road to Damascus, and once Paul opens his heart to receive the gift, the Apostle himself then becomes the revelation. He is filled with Christ, so that he can say in the same Letter: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (2:20). His whole life, all that he does, says and thinks, his body, mind, heart and soul, become the revelation of Jesus to the world. This is the mystery of the sublime vocation given not just to Saint Paul and Blessed Gorg Preca, but to each of you as well.

5. Your founder was especially devoted to the words: Verbum Dei caro factum est; based on the Prologue of Saint John’s Gospel: "The Word was made flesh" (1:14). Here in fact is the foundation of your vocation and apostolate. The Divine Word in a certain sense continually takes flesh in his Mystical Body, the Church. You are to help in this by doing for others what Dun Gorg has done for you. You are to plant the seed of God’s word in people’s hearts, so that Christ may live in them! You must teach everyone – children, young people, adults – to contemplate the face of Christ, to see the Lord (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 16), so that the light of God’s glory which shines from the face of Jesus may shine forth from them as well. This is the "rooting of the Church in time and place [which] mirrors the movement of the Incarnation itself" (ibid. 3).

As you set forth and continue this sacred mission, let the words of your founder echo ceaselessly in your hearts: MUSEUMMagister, utinam sequatur Evangelium universus mundus! Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow the Gospel! Entrusting you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Paul and Blessed Gorg Preca, as well as Blessed Ignatius and Blessed Adeodata also beatified today, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to all the members of the Society of Christian Doctrine as a pledge of endless mercy in Jesus Christ, "the faithful witness and firstborn from the dead" (Rev 1:5). Il-paci maghkom!

Peppi Azzopardi u Dun Gorg

Li jkollna l-ewwel qaddis Malti hi xi ħaġa storika u għal dawk li jemmnu hi xi ħaġa spiritwali li ma tispjegahiex.
Iltqajt ma’ Iris, mart il-persuna li kien dikjarat li sar l-ewwel miraklu miegħu. Żewġha kien se jagħma. It-tabib Ċensu Tabone kien se jagħmillu l-operazzjoni. Iris tirrakkonta li sakemm marret tixtri xi affarijiet għall-operazzjoni ġiet lura u sabet li żewġha fieq. Żewġha qalilha li kien hemm soċju tal-Mużew li mar iżuru u li mess il-lazz taż-żarbun ta’ Dun Ġorġ ma’ għajnejh u f’daqqa waħda ma ħass xejn aktar.

Meta t-Tabib Tabone ġie biex jagħmel l-operazzjoni ma qalulu xejn. Kif beda jagħmel il-vista ma riedx jemmen dak li ra. Il-marda minn għajnejn ir-raġel kienet marret għal kollox. Fil-fatt l-operazzjoni ma saritx.
Għalkemm jien it-tip xettiku nħossni arroganti ngħid li ma jistax ikun li kien miraklu. Ovvja, din l-iktar parti li tinteressa lin-nies u għalhekk bdejt biha. Iżda assolutament ma nħossx li Dun Ġorġ għandu jkollu l-akbar preġju għax qed jagħmel il-mirakli. Anzi nqis li din tal-mirakli forsi hi l-anqas li timpressjonani jekk mhux ukoll tnaqqas il-kobor ta’ dan il-bniedem sempliċi.

L-istorja li l-aktar li timpressjonani hi meta l-ġerarkija tal-Knisja ordnatlu jagħlaq iċ-ċentri kollha tal-Mużew li kien fetaħ. Impressjonani għax filwaqt li qal li ma fehemx għala kienu qed jagħmlu hekk, baxxa rasu u obda. Anki jekk taħt protesta obda. Għalija dan hu l-kobor ta’ Dun Ġorġ. Nammirah għax jien ma kontx nobdi żgur. Kont inkun tant rasi mimlija bil-ġid li nkun qed nagħmel li kieku kont nisfida lill-Knisja, jekk mhux wkoll noħloq grupp ieħor biex flimkien immorru quddiem il-Kurja u qabel l-Arċisqof jirtira d-direttiva imnelħa tiegħu ma nitlaqx minn hemm.
Dun Ġorġ obda għalkemm ma qabilx u qal li ma jaqbilx. U kienet l-ubbidjenza tiegħu li x’aktarx kienet ir-raġuni għaliex kienet irtirata d-direttiva.

Bis-sempliċità tiegħu Dun Ġorġ irnexxielu jwaqqaf il-MUSEUM. Iżda l-Mużew, kif inhu magħruf, ma waqafx meta miet hu. U hawn il-kobor tal-bniedem. Li warajh iħalli għaqda bħalma hi l-MUSEUM, li mhux talli tibqa’ għaddejja imma tikber fuq livell nazzjonali u internazzjonali.

Ngħid id-dritt l-istil li bih kienu jgħallmu tal-Mużew fl-antik lili kien iqabiżżhieli. Iżda llum imxew maż-żminijiet u għalkemm inħoss li jonqos serjament is-sens kritiku li għandna nrabbu fit-tfal tagħna ma nistax ma nammirax lis-soċji tal-Mużew li jiddedikaw ħajjithom għal dawn it-tfal.

Iltqajt ma wħud minnhom dan l-aħħar u impressjonawni. Impressjonanwni għax rajt taħlita li ftit tara fl-istess għaqda. Soċji li jaħdmu t-tarzna ma’ soċji li jgħallmu l-Università. Impressjonawni għall-imħabba bla kundizzjoni li għandhom għat-tfal. Mhux ċajta li wara ġurnata xogħol, kuljum jiddedikawh jilagħbu u jgħallmu lit-tfal. Fi tmiem il-ġimgħa minflok jagħżlu li joqogħdu x’imkien għal kwiet jaraw x’jivvintaw biex joħorġu lil dawn it-tfal. Eluf ta’ tfal imxerrdin ma’ pajjiżna.

Imma issa li għandna l-ewwel qaddis Malti x’se jiġri? Se nsiru nemmnu iżjed? Se nibdew immorru l-quddies aktar spiss? Se nobdu dejjem u f’kull ħin lill-Knisja anki meta assolutament ma naqblux magħha? Inkun onest. Ma naħsibx. Naħseb li Dun Ġorġ bħala l-ewwel qaddis se jkun avveniment storiku li jgħaqqadna għall-mument.

Naħseb li ħafna se jbiddlu l-qaddisin tagħhom “għax issa għandna tagħna u probabbli lilna l-Maltin jaqdi l-ewwel.”
Għax għandna l-ewwel qaddis Malti se nsegwu iżjed l-evanġelju u nħobbu bla kundizzjoni lil kull refuġjat li jirfes fuq gżiritna? Le ma naħsibx. In-nies tibqa’ tiskandalizza ruħha b’dawk li jperrċu xi żejża fuq il-beach iżda l-ebda skandlu ma jitqanqal meta nisimgħu lil min irrid iħallihom jegħrqu f’nofs baħar.

L-aqwa li ruħi qalbi x-xebba ma tikxifx għax donnu d-dnub tas-sess hu l-uniku dnub.

Fost il-folla f’Ruma dalgħodu hemm Iris li hekk kif Dun Ġorġ ikun dikjarat qaddis mhux se tkun tista’ tieqaf tibki bil-ferħ. Lil żewġha laħqet tilfitu iżda llum temmen li dalgħodu qiegħed ħdejn Dun Ġorġ jifraħ miegħu hemm fuq.
Temmen jew ma temminx fil-mirakli jew fil-qaddisin il-paċi li tħoss meta tiltaqa’ ma Iris ma nafx nispjegaha.

Vucijiet ohra

Daphne Caruana Galizia – The Malta Independent on Sunday, 27 ta’ Mejju
“Stramba kif ma kien hemm l-ebda diskussjoni fuq il-kumment li t-tarbija kellha 90 fil-mija ċans li tmut, u mhux mija fil-mija, jekk ma kellux trapjant tal-fwied. Dan ifisser li kellu 10 fil-mija ċans li jgħix, kif fil-fatt ġara – għalkemm il-miraklu donnu li jinsab fl-irkupru aktar milli fil-fatt li t-tarbija għexet.”
“Il-fatt li l-aqwa tobba tal-fwied fid-dinja ma setgħux isibu spjegazzjoni xjentifika għall-irkupru spontanju tat-tarbija bi fwied difettuż ma jfissirx li ma teżistix spjegazzjoni xjentifika… Jista’ ma jkunx hemm spjegazzjoni – u għalhekk ikun seħħ miraklu, jekk temmen f’dawn l-affarijiet – iżda jista’ jkun hemm spjegazzjoni li l-għarfien li għandhom it-tobba bħalissa mhux biżżejjed biex jiskopru x’inhi.”
“Hu arroganti li nassumu li nafu kollox dwar il-ġisem uman, u b’mod partikolari l-fwied uman, u li l-ebda spjegazzjoni xjentifika mhux se tinstab fil-mitt sena, jew mitejn, jew tliet mitt sena li jmiss – jekk mhux fl-għaxar snin li jmiss.”
“Huma dawk li ddeċidew li dan hu miraklu li għandhom bżonn spjegazzjoni, u sabuha: Dun Ġorġ għamilha.”
“It-twemmin fil-fejqan mirakoluż ta’ din it-tarbija wara li ntmess minn relikwa ta’ raġel qaddis jaslilna b’dixxendenza diretta mill-kultura medjevali Ewropea.”

Toni Abela – Illum, 27 ta’ Mejju
“Smajt mingħand oħra kif kien jagħmel kuntatt mal-mejtin u anki b’mirakli li għamel f’ħajtu. Insomma, il-kobba leġġendarja ta’ Dun Ġorġ ilha sa minn meta kien għadu ħaj titgerbeb u tikber man-niżla tal-qdusija. Għalhekk ma ħadtha xejn bi kbira li maż-żmien, b’mod speċjali wara mewtu, din il-leġġenda kompliet tismien. Bħal meta wieħed ġie jara wara li poġġewlu lazz taż-żarbun fuq għajnejh.”
“Biex it-trijonf spiritwali jkun totali saħansitra qegħdin nattribwixxu lil Dun Ġorġ effett globali, f’dinja globalizzata. Tabib Hindi jesklama kif dan il-każ tat-tfajjel li fieq jikkonvinċih mill-qdusija ta’ Dun Ġorġ. Għalhekk saħansitra ntbagħat messaġġ spiritwali li t-tagħlim tal-Knisja Kattolika hu superjuri għal reliġjonijiet oħra. Aħna l-għira ta’ denominazzjonijiet reliġjużi oħrajn!
“Issa l-Indjani wkoll kellhom l-erwieħ twajba tagħhom. Biżżejjed insemmi lil Mahatma Gandhi li mingħajr ma fejjaq lil ħadd b’mod mirakoluż kien ikona sagra għad-dinja kollha, indipendentement mit-twemmin reliġjuż ta’ kulħadd.”
“Issa jiena nemmen, mingħajr ma nneħħi mill-mertu ta’ Dun Ġorġ, li jekk kien hawn saċerdot li kien jistħoqqlu jkun qaddis huwa Pietru Pawl Saydon. Fil-ħemda, fis-skiet, għal 30 sena sħaħ, nefaq ġidu, għasar ħinu u tilef għaqlu wara t-traduzzjoni tal-Bibbja għall-Malti. Għamel dan kontra kull oppożizzjoni politika u reliġjuża.”
“B’dan Ġorġ Preca kulħadd feraħ u min lanqas ma jemmen fih innifsu aħseb u ara f’Alla, ingħaqad f’dan il-ferħ. Kemm tassew dawn it-talin ferħu hi ħaġa oħra iżda ngħaqdu ma’ l-applaws nazzjonali. Ma setgħux jagħmlu mod ieħor, anki jekk naf li dawn it-talin huma ateji u kif stqarr wieħed minnhom miegħi, li l-qaddisin aħna nagħmluhom u mhux ’l Alla tagħhom.”
“Fil-mument li jkunu qed jinkixfu l-arazzi kbar fil-pjazza ta’ San Pietru, b’wieħed minnhom b’immaġini kbira ta’ Dun Ġorġ Preca, b’ħafna minna jinfaqgħu jibku u jċapċpu, fid-dar fejn kien jgħix dan il-qaddis fil-Ħamrun se jkun hemm xi ħadd qiegħed jilgħabhom. Għax fejn kien jgħix Dun Ġorġ Preca llum hemm swali tal-logħob u ta’ l-azzard…”

Raphael Vassallo – MaltaToday, 27 ta’ Mejju
“Din l-intervista (mat-tabib Indjan) kienet interpretata mill-media Maltija bħala xi forma ta’ konferma ‘sekulari’ li l-fejqan tat-tifel kien verament mirakoluż… u li l-miraklu kien b’xi mod marbut ma’ Dun Ġorġ Preca.”
“…Dr Dhawan ma qalx li l-irkupru tat-tifel kien ‘mirakoluż’. Lanqas jekk iġġebbed l-immaġinazzjoni ma tifhem li qal hekk. Il-kliem preċiż tiegħu kienu dawn: ‘Kien hemm 90 fil-mija ċans li ma kienx se jgħix mingħajr trapjant tal-fwied. Iżda għex. Iktar u iktar, ġie ’l quddiem waħdu.’”
“Teżisti bażi xjentifika li twasslek biex temmen li l-kawża għall-fejqan tat-tifel setgħet kienet it-tqegħid biswitu fis-sodda ta’ ingwanta li ntlibset mill-espert forensiku li kien involut fl-eżumazzjoni tal-ġisem ta’ Dun Ġorġ? U jekk le… għalfejn il-fejqan kien attribwit lil Dun Ġorġ Preca, meta, minn perspettiva xjentifika, jidher li m’hemm l-ebda konnessjoni?”

Blessed George Preca

The 9th of May 2001 witnessed the second visit of HH Pope John Paul II to Malta, a small island-state in the centre of the Mediterranean, just beneath Sicily. He came from Greece and Syria as part of his Jubilee Pilgrimage in the footsteps of St Paul. He came also to beatify three Maltese saintly persons: Fr George Preca, Ignatius Falzon and Sister Adeodata Pisani. Fr Preca is the most famous and revered.

Born in February 1880 in Valletta, the capital of Malta, George Preca was ordained priest in December 1906. As a newly ordained priest of just over twenty-six years, Fr Preca had longed harboured in his mind and heart a preoccupation with the fragile basis of religious teaching among the Maltese. He was also sensitive enough to foresee that the Catholic faith in Malta was heading for a shaking during the dawning 20th century. Malta was then still a British colony, and it was experiencing the birth pains of rising nationalism.

As a deacon, George used to visit the Grand Harbour area to talk to sailors of different nationalities and lead them on to a religious discussion. He was also already in contact with a small group of youths whom he met in the fields around St Cajetan Church Hamrun. Then, after his ordination, Fr Preca went through some sort of a very charismatic experience. He retired alone for about three months. After his daily morning Mass, no one would see him again. He himself said later that he would go up to the house loft and stay there meditating and praying the Bible, especially the Gospels, to which he remained devoted till death and which he was to propagate widely by means of his Society later on.

George Preca was eager to teach and catechise. In fact, later on in life he used to repeat that he was born for that very mission: to instruct God's People in the ways of truth and justice. The first group of youths, whom he had met near the Hamrun Parish Church, he formed them through sheer personal initiative and pastoral care. That was his mark from the very beginning. He used to observe them, just back from work, idling away their time chattering and smoking. His pastoral sensibility moved him towards them. At first he befriended them: he even asked for a home-rolled cigarette, even though he did not smoke. In spite of his new black cassock, he sat down with them on the dusty stones in the field. A fruitful and providential friendship was thus sealed. Of the group, he eventually singled out the Servant of God Eugenio Borg (1886-1967), a dockyard pattern-maker, to give him deeper formation. Fr Preca used to spend hours with Eugene Borg meditating God's Word from a copy of the Douai Bible, especially St John's Gospel.

At that time, of course, there was no Maltese translation of the Bible which was a closed untouchable book to the large majority of the Catholic population. Prof. Mgr Peter Paul Saydon (d. 1971), a world renowned Biblical scholar, was the first to translate the whole Bible into Maltese from the original languages - a classical translation which cost him thirty years (1929-59) of painstaking work. Mgr Saydon himself later testified that he would have stopped his work if it were not for the tangible support he got from Fr Preca and from the Members of his Society who used to buy the greatest bulk of the books. Mgr Saydon appreciated the biblical grounding of Fr Preca's talks and sermons. Saydon was to describe Fr Preca as an eminent "evangelical preacher".

On 7 March 1907, after the loft experience mentioned above, Fr Preca and his group of men began to meet regularly at a rented room in St Joseph High Road, Hamrun. He slowly and patiently formed them into instructed Christians and aroused in their hearts a strong and daring love for Jesus Christ. Then one day, Fr George came among his group and, unannounced, he sent off the married ones: "From now on", he told them among protests, "all members here should be celibate."

That was how the SDC: Societas Doctrinae Christianae (Society of Christian Doctrine) - M.U.S.E.U.M. came to be in 1907. Of course, Fr Preca would never accept the title of "Founder": he attributed this to St Paul. Fr George used to repeat that Paul's words to Timothy inspired the birth of the Society: "You have heard everything that I teach in public; hand it on to reliable people so that they in turn will be able to teach others" (2Tim 2:2).

Naturally, Fr Preca did not envisage from the start the eventual development and administrative set-up of the Society. Its growth was gradual, but it was providential that the Society enjoyed the physical and active presence of its Founder for fifty-five years - from its beginning till his death in 1962. His was a daring dream indeed: entrusting a teaching ministry to the laity with a system for permanent and daily formation, ... and this at the beginning of the 20th century, more than five decades before Vatican Two. Unlike priests and religious, the SDC Members do not take a solemn vow of celibacy, but a private one. They remain totally lay men and women living a normal life of work, and they do not normally live in community. Their celibacy is a visible option of dedication to Christ and his Church through the catechising apostolate.

At the beginning, the response of the Church authorities in Malta to Fr Preca's initiative was a mixed one. The first twenty years were indeed a very difficult and trying time for the young priest, and also for the Members. As the Society gradually began to open its Centres in the parishes, some parish priests were all out for this new venture. Others smelt too much independence for the laity and opposed him drastically. There was a time also when Fr Preca was even ordered to close down the Catechism Centres he had opened. In 1910 Fr Preca started another innovation: a female section of the Society, and this added faggots to the fire. Insults and ridicule appeared also in some newspapers. In 1916 Fr George, and mainly the first two Superiors, Eugenio Borg and Giannina Cutajar, were regularly summoned to the Bishop's Curia for an Ecclesiastical Inquiry. The future of the Society hang in the balance, till eventually Archbishop Dom Maurus Caruana was convinced of its orthodoxy and its beneficial presence in the parishes. In April 1932, seventy years ago, the Archbishop granted diocesan approval to the Society of Christian Doctrine. By that year, the Society had already 24 Centres for males, each Centre averaging between 100 and 300 children. The same can be said about the 22 Centres for females.

The Society had its first social roots within an area of working class people, and in the Malta of the first three decades of the last century that was only natural. Fr Preca was after the religious instruction of the common people and their children. Most of the first Members were dockyard or manual workers. This, of course, highlights even more his inspirational genius: he was able to translate high theological language to common folk, and then train the dedicated among them to teach it to others. He himself used to translate into Maltese parts of the New Testament and then pass them on to the Members who hand copied them and learned them fully by heart, and then repeat them to fellow workers. In fact, biblical and sound theology formed the backbone of all of Preca’s initiatives and devotions, such as his intense devotion to Mary, and the spiritual practices he propagated were devoid of popular sentimentality.

The people responded marvellously to Fr Preca's appeal, and not only manual workers, but almost everybody. Fr Preca's sermons, or open-air religious talks, still known as Sajdiet in Maltese (from the Gospel image of the fish net), drew hundreds of people from all walks of life. Even some of Malta's top politicians respected him and sought his advice. Daily, he was totally at the service of the people, all the people, through hearing confessions, giving conferences, sitting for spiritual direction and comforting people.

Besides, he devoted long hours to writing mainly in order to provide the SDC Members with instructional and ascetical manuals, as well as a means to impart his spirit to his followers. He wrote without the modern comforts of electricity or word processing! His books, all significantly written in Maltese, except two in Latin, are solidly biblical and orthodox. He meditated and scrutinised the Bible so thoroughly that he wrote 600 meditative and practical Bible Sessions, covering almost the whole spectrum of the Bible books. Some of the major writings of Fr Preca, out of the total of some 145 books and pamphlets, are available in English translation. (see box)

Untiringly, Fr Preca continued his apostolic mission till the ripe age of eighty-two years. He was bound to his bed only during the last six months. He died on 26 July 1962. Though he never claimed any special favours, his humility and holiness were never in doubt. People flocked to him even after death. The Cause for Canonisation, officially started in 1975, climaxed in the solemn beatification ceremony in Malta by the Pope himself on 9 May 2001.

The catechetical work in the parishes is still the main priority of the Society of Blessed Preca through its 110 Centres around Malta and Gozo. The Society has also corollaries which are very relevant to its charism: St Michael Secondary School for boys; Preca Library, a first-class Christian bookshop next to the Mother House at Blata l-Bajda, and the Veritas Printing Press which specialises in and helps religious publications.

Outside Malta, the first successful overseas Centres of the Society of Christian Doctrine were those of Australia which started in the 1950s when Fr Preca himself asked for volunteer Members to go to that Continent which was receiving thousands of Maltese immigrants. Then in 1983, an SDC presence started in the Sudan: in El Obeid, but now we are in Khartoum. There are two other SDC Centres in Kenya: in Ruiru, near Nairobi, and in Mpeketoni, in the Diocese of Malindi.

In Europe, we are in London, Brixton, in the Archdiocese of Southwark; and in Korce, Albania. In Latin America, we are in Lurin, Peru, close to Lima.

How then, in a nutshell, can the ideal of Blessed George Preca be presented? He always announced Jesus Christ, the Verbum Dei, the Incarnate Son of God, and Crucified Master - meditated, loved, and imitated in his attitudes of generous and self-emptying radicality towards God the Father and fellow people. Fr George Preca presented none other ideal. Christ the Teacher, Victim and Victor for the sake of the Father's Kingdom, is the inspiration behind Fr Preca's incarnational spirituality.

This ideal still urges his dedicated lay men and women to gradually put on Christ Jesus in stead of the old self. Thus they will have the spiritual stamina to oppose the world's vanity by their presence in the world without being of the world. With that Gospel motivation clear in their hearts, they try to strive ceaselessly to spread Christ's love and incarnate his salvific message in the world, according to the M.U.S.E.U.M. dynamic prayer-motto: Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus - Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow the Gospel.

Don Giorgio Preca

Definito il più popolare Sacerdote maltese di questo secolo, il Servo di Dio, Gorg Preca è, allo stesso tempo, considerato autore di una vera "rivoluzione" nella chiesa di Malta: un cambiamento dello "status" e del ruolo del laicato.

Nato in Valletta il 12 febbraio 1880, morì il 26 luglio 1962, senza aver mai lasciato Malta, nonostante ne fosse stato spesso richiesto e il suo nome fosse ben conosciuto all'estero. "Il San Filippo Neri di Malta", come alcuni lo hanno definito, ha avuto, nel corso di tutta la sua vita, giovanile e sacerdotale, una sola preoccupazione: aiutare e incoraggiare le persone a "cambiare cuore".

Entrato in Seminario dopo il Liceo, era molto stimato dai compagni, ai quali non perdeva occasione di offrire piccole riflessioni spirituali. "Dio ti ha scelto per inisegnare al suo popolo": queste parole suggeritegli dal dal suo confessore e direttore spirituale, sono state spesso ricordate dal Servo di Dio e sono state da lui considerate la parola d'ordine di tutta la sua vita.

Ordinato il 22 dicembre 1906, ebbe presto l'idea di preparare giovani, in modo che essi potessero offrire la necessaria formazione religiosa agli altri. E' così che, nel marzo 1907, nacque quella che sarebbe poi diventata la "Societas Doctrinae Christianae", ramo maschile e ramo femminile, approvata dall'Autorità ecclesiastica nel 1932. Essa è comunemente nota come M.U.S.E.U.M., 'museo' per conservare la Parola di Dio, ma anche come acronimo di (Magister utinam sequatur Evangeliium universus mundus, Maestr, fa' che il mondo intero segua il Vangelo), l'unico e più grande desiderio che il Servo di Dio abbia avuto nella sua vita.

Dalla fondazione all'approvazione della "Societas" sono trascorsi 25 anni e "il gruppo di Don Giorgio" continua a essere oggetto di stretta osservazione da parte delle Autorità ecclesiastiche, a motivo della "novità", un apostolato organizzato dai laici, laici determinati, virtuosi e ben istruiti, per santificare il mondo intorno a loro. Il Decreto del Concilio Vaticano II sull'Apostolato dei Laici (Apostolicam actuositatem) è del 1965! Durante la Seconda Guerra Mondiale il gruppo ebbe modo di ingrandirsi e di svolgere la sua attività in quasi tutte le parrocchie di Malta e di Gozo.

Questa intuizione e attività del Servo di Dio fu sempre accompagnata da una profonda fede, da una intensa vita di preghiera, con vivissima devozione alla Santissima Trinità e alla Vergine, invocata com "Madre del Buon Consiglio". Altrettanto rimarchevoli sono state le virtù di Don Giorgio: la semplicità e l'umiltà unite a una scelta di vivere in speciale povertà.

La causa di Beatificazione fu iniziata in Malta nel 1976, introdotta in Roma nel 1988. Il 28 giugno 1998 il Sac. Giorgio Preca fu dichiarato Venerabile. E' ancora in vita il medico che, per primo, ha rilevato, dopo una sicura diagnosi e al momento di iniziare un secondo intervento chirurgico, la completa guarigione, senza cicatrice, di un distacco di retina. E' un famoso oftalmologo, Sig. Censu (Vincenzo) Tabone, Presidente della Repubblica di Malta all'epoca della Visita di Giovanni Paolo II (maggio 1990). Il miracolato ha attribuito la guarigione all'intercessione di Don Giorgio Preca.