The Friars of the Malta Province meet to pray together

On Thursday 24 September 2020, the Augustinian friars got together at the St. Augustine Parish Church, Valletta. This was a prayer meeting in preparation for the Provincial Intermediary Assembly which will be celebrated in October.

The meeting was led by Auxiliary Bishop Mgr. Joe Galea Curmi who, apart from praying with the friars, expressed a message of home and encouragement, so that, inspired by God, the Interior Guide, the challenges faced are changed into an opportunity for renewal. “Let us convince ourselves that God wishes only good; God gives hope; the future is not in our hands but God is aware of whatever he is doing with us”, thus spoke Bishop Mgr. Joe Galea Curmi.

At the conclusion of this gathering Fr. Provincial Leslie Gatt read a message sent by Assistant General Fr. Luis Marin de San Martin o.s.a. as a prelude to this walk towards the 2020 Provincial Assembly.

 



The presence of the Augustinian Religious in Malta goes beyond six hundred years. For many years the friars lived and worked in the convent in Rabat, Malta, the one in Valletta and that in Victoria, Gozo where they established three communities. Meanwhile, as was the case with other religious orders in Malta, they formed part of other provinces and, in the case of the Augustinians, they appertained to the Sicilian Province.

At around the second half of the eighteenth century, various attempts were made to render the Augustinians in Malta no longer dependent on Sicily. In 1801 the English Commissioner advised the local Bishop and the Religious Orders that the English Crown no longer recognised foreign superiors. This made the Maltese friars more inclined to gain autonomy even because it was feared that religious supervision could be at risk.

In fact, a few years later, Pope Pius VII accepted an appeal that the three Maltese convents become an autonomous Province.

It was by a decree dated 14 September 1817 that Fra. Septimus Rotelli, the Order’s Vicar General, established the Malta Augustinian Province with the title of the Province of St. Mark.

 

 

Over the years, the work of the Maltese brothers continued unabated, both in Malta as well as beyond our shores in missionary countries. Today the Maltese Augustinians have six Religious Communities: that of St. Mark at Rabat, Malta; of St. Augustine at the Gozitan capital, Victoria; of the St. Augustine Parish at Malta’s capital, Valletta; that dedicated to the Mother of Good Counsel, Paceville, St. Julians; that dedicated to St. Nicholas from Tolentino at Ħal-Tarxien and that at St. Augustine College, Tal-Pieta’. Apart from at their conventual churches, the brothers also render religious services to the communities of St. Rita’s Chapel, St. Julians; at tal-Baħrija (limits of Rabat, Malta); at the Chapel dedicated to St. Anthony Abbot at the gardens of the Verdala Palace, Burkett and at the Chapel of the Augustinian Sisters following a Contemplative Life at the capital, Valletta.

For more than one hundred and seventy years the Augustinians have been active in the educational field through the St. Augustinian College, nowadays with two Campuses at Marsa and at Tal-Pieta’. Mention should also be made of the significant and very noble work done at the Millennium Chapel, Paceville, St. Julians; in the area of Pastoral Culture; at the Augustinian Institute; at the Secretariat for Augustinian Missions; in the formation of the laity and in accompanying youths. Apart from this, three religious are also giving service away from Malta; in Cuba; Palermo and rendering service to the Order in Rome.

The Augustinian Family, together with all laity who are in some way involved in its work, give thanks to God for all this!


On Thursday 27 and Friday 28 August we celebrate the feasts of St. Monica and St. Augustine. For both these occasions the members of the Commission for Lay Augustinians wish to send their best wishes to all laity connected in any way with the Augustinians.

We are living difficult times ……. of uncertainty for everybody and also fear and suffering for some more than others. St. Augustine said: “people say: ‘we are passing through bad times, through difficult times’. However, let us live properly and times will change for the better. We are the times: these are in line with our demeanour”.

Even during these times, we need to examine how we can lead better lives by taking care of one another; observing the directives issued by the health authorities; showing solidarity between ourselves; treasuring all that is dear to us and, above all, having faith in God’s mercy.

Notwithstanding the health restrictions, we members of the Commission are going to do our level best so that, through alternative means such as the social media, we will maintain contact with all of you so that we will continue to form part of one family – the Augustinian family.

 


This year we will be celebrating the feast of St. Augustine in unusual circumstances. The day commemorating our father's St. Augustine’s entry into heaven will be celebrated in a subdued way in accordance with the directives that are intended to ensure that we take good care of one another during this pandemic. If a lot of things can in some way or other be limited, certainly God’s love and graces, with which St. Augustine was blessed, remain limitless! Perhaps for yet another time, we are being given an opportunity to go beyond what has become our daily routine of activities or external celebrations, and for us to deeply reflect if a moment like this could propose something for our own selves.

It is perhaps an invitation for us to look deeply into our heart so that there, in our interior, we discover truly who we are as St. Augustine himself reflected in his Confessions: “My hear is the pace where I am what I am”. (Confessions X, 3,4). Therefore, from this emerges the invitation: “Go back deeply into your heart to see what are your thoughts about God. Because there is God’s image. Christ lives in you and you are being renewed according to God’s image. Recognise the author from that same image.” (Trat. John 18,10). This is a very beautiful invitation which I feel I should propose to you at this moment in time with a further invitation that with this attitude we seek to use this opportunity for renewal by each and every one of us. How good it would be if all of us finds some quiet time for himself to search for and find God who lives in him verily and in all sincerity. This is an invitation for me to recognise all that is good in me, but also a challenge to accept my shortcomings and to take the opportunity of meeting Jesus and to allow him to change me.

In a wider sense this cannot be done on my own but in a spirit of community with all those that the Lord, in some way or other, arranges for me to meet both in the inner circle in which I find myself and also beyond that. At a time when we are challenged by the need to keep a physical distance from one another, the invitation is for us to reflect on spiritual communion that goes even beyond any distance. I refer to communion that is not restricted by the fact that we live under the same roof, or by choices brought upon us by present circumstances, - even if these are for us a value of great importance - but a communion that emanates from God. This I can do only if my relationship with others is built on an authentic spiritual experience and a serene openness to all that God expects from me during my lifetime. This was the experience of our Patron St. Augustine when he persisted in seeking God whilst he adapted his own wishes to what God asked of him in particular moments.

I augur heartily that this time will help us continue on our walk of renewal together as persons, as citizens, as baptised persons, as consecrated persons, as a family, as a Church… Above all let us continue to nourish reciprocal respect, to be sensitive in our relations with one another, in being mindful of the needs of others and in our commitment to the mission which each and every one of us has been called to live up to our response whereby we gave up ourselves totally to that call. May St. Augustine accompany us and inspire us throughout this walk.

Fr. Leslie Gatt osa

Prior Provincial


Last week, the school run by the Augustinian nuns was burgled during the night. 6 Toshiba notebooks were stolen along with 3 CPUs; 4 monitors and a TV set. Apart from that, in the morning a big storm hit the area and lightning burnt out the entire kitchen of the Primary school.

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