On Friday, January 27, Fr Josef Sciberras O.S.A. defended his doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Church History and Cultural Heritage, at the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome. Following his studies for a Licenciate in the same Faculty, Fr  Josef continued to increase his interest in the field. Meanwhile, the idea of ​​pursuing further studies for a doctorate started to materialise particularly in his interest in the figure of Mons. Paolo Micallef who was the only Maltese Prior General in the History of our Order, a figure who had never been accurately researched.

After the years of formation in Malta, Fr Paolo Micallef O.S.A. served as a friar in Italy and in 1855 he was actually serving as Prior in the community of Fermo when he was called to serve as Vicar General of the Order through the direct intervention of Pope Pius IX. Later he was elected Prior General. Following his years at the helm of the Order, he served also for some months as Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Gozo, bishop of Citta del Castello and than Archbishop of Pisa.

After several years of hard work, last Friday 27th January, fr Josef presented his doctoral thesis, in which he particularly studied the years fr Paolo Micallef O.S.A. served as Prior General between 1855 and 1865. It is a work that brings to light the sterling service that Fr Paolo gave to the Order following years of decadence.

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.


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 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.

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