On Sunday January 15, the traditional Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot was celebrated in the Conventual Church of St. Mark in Rabat, with the rite of the blessing of the animals. A lot of people with their animals took part in the mass, the procession, and later the much awaited ceremony of the blessing of the animals in St Augustine Square in front of the church.

The celebration started with the mass presided over by the Prior Provincial Fr Leslie Gatt O.S.A., followed by a short procession with the statue of the saint. Back in square in front of the Church a prayer was led by the celebrant and than the first to be blessed were two horses of the Police cavalry. A good number of horses and donkeys followed. It was than the turn of the domestic animals particularly a large number of dogs, cats, birds and turtles. A few less frequent animals attracted particular attention, such as a snake, an owl and a calf.

The devotion to the saint in the Augustinian Church of Rabat actually goes back several centuries. Since the time of the Knights of St John, it has been a custom for the Grandmaster to send his animals to be blessed on the feast of St Anthony of Rabat. In 1806, the renowned artist Xandru Farrugia, carved the of Saint Anthony in wood.

The figure of Saint Anthony the Abbot has a connection with the Augustinian tradition. The life of Saint Anthony and his strong example encouraged Saint Augustine at a decisive moment in his life and helped him on his journey towards conversion. For many years the Augustinian friars were even called hermits and devotion to Saint Anthony was something very common in their churches.



On Sunday 8th January 2023, solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, Fr. Francis Calleja OSA celebrated a thanksgiving mass in the Parish Church of Saint Nicholas in Siġġiewi, thanking the Lord for 50 years of priestly ministry. Several Augustinian friars, priests and members of his family joined him in the eucharistic celebration.

Fr Francis was actually born in Siġġiewi on  December 30, 1948. From an early age he attended Saint Augustine College, at that time in Tarxien. In 1964 he began his novitiate in the Augustinian Family and on October 3, 1965 he made his first Profession of Religious Vows. Later he was sent to continue his studies at the Patristic Institute in Rome and on January 9, 1972 he then made his Solemn Profession. On December 17, 1972 he was ordained a priest in St. John’s Co-Cathedral, together with several other Augustinian Friars.

As a religious here in Malta he served, among other things, as responsible for the formation of new candidates for religious life in the Priory of Saint Rita in Saint Julians. For many years he served in Augustinian communities in Italy, namely in Pisa, Cascia, Pisa, Gela and Palermo where he still lives and serves as a prior.

The Augustinian Province wishes Fr  Francis much more strength and joy in the Lord. Thank you Fr. Francis. 

Ad Multos Annos.


 

A new book, Searching and Confessing, Augustine's Quest for Wisdom and Truth, written by Rev. Dr Salvino Caruana O.S.A. and published by the Maltese Augustinian Province was launched last Friday, January 13. The book, written in English, helps the reader get closer to the great figure of Saint Augustine and invites him to journey with the saint in his search for wisdom and truth. This is done in five main chapters in which he refers to different phases of Augustine's continuous struggle along his life.

The Book was presented in a wonderful evening that was staged in the Auditorium of the Millennium Chapel, in the presence of the Prior Provincial Fr Leslie Gatt O.S.A. and H.E. Mons Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Apostolic Nuncio for Malta. At the opening of the event, the author, Fr Salvino welcomed those present and thanked all those who, in one way or another, were part of this project which adds up to the large number of writings and translations written by himself. Over the years Fr Salvino has given us numerous works that help us get closer to the figure and teachings of Saint Augustine. The evening proceded with two interesting appreciations presented by the Rev. Dr Stefan Attard, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, and the Rev. Dr Jonathan Farrugia, Head of the Department of Patrology in the same Faculty. The evening also included some musical pieces from pianist Julia Miller and soprano Christine Dalli.

This evening took place just a week before the opening of another course of the Augustinian Institute coordinated by Fr Salvino. The Course will take place every Friday between January 20 and March 24 at The Santa Rita Priory, Saint Julians and will be open for everyone. This year’s course will deal with themes related to Saint Augustine's book De catechizandis rudibus.


On Saturday 7th January 2023, Fr. Mark Cauchi celebrated a Thanksgiving mass in the Church of Saint Augustine in Valletta, together with the Augustinian Community, through which he thanked God for 70 years of priestly ministry. Fr. Mark who is 94 years old, has been for the last 20 years a member of the Augustinian Community of Valletta.

Fr. Mark was born in Cospicua on  July 5, 1928 and joined the Augustinian family on January 20,  1946 when he began his novitiate at Augustinian Priory of, Victoria in Gozo. A year later, exactly on January 26, 1947 (76 years ago) he made the Simple Profession of the Evangelical Vows in the Order of Saint Augustine. He then continued the study of Philosophy and Theology at San Mark College in Rabat Malta and on February 5, 1950 he made his Solemn Profession. He was then ordained a priest on December 20, 1952 in St. John Co-Cathedral in Valletta.

As a religious and priest he served in several communities in Malta and was also a teacher of Latin and French at Saint Augustine College, and chaplain of the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Valletta. Abroad, he worked in the Augustinian missions in North Africa and in Sicily. Over the years he always had a great love for History, research and writing, so much so that he wrote several articles and even published several books.

The Augustinian Province wishes Fr. Mark much more health and joy in the Lord. Thank you Fr. Mark.

Ad Multos Annos.


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