Peter Paul Cachia

  1. When were you born and where did you live? 

I was born on the 26th May 1953 in the city of Victoria, Gozo and I was baptised in the Parish of St George.

I was raised in the borgo of the city of Rabat, Gozo. I was raised in a disciplined environment by my mother since my father passed away early in my childhood. In my adolescent years I spent a lot of time at the Don Bosco Oratory which was run by Salesian fathers until the mid-60s and by diocesan priests from then onwards under the direction of Dun Karm Mercieca, a natural pedagogue, this was a golden age in my formation and growth.

During this period, I also discovered the community of the Augustinian fathers close to the Oratory since I was invited by the Novices to join them for an outing. From then on, a seed was sown and this began to grow.

  1. Where did you receive your primary; secondary and post-secondary education? 

I attended the primary and secondary school in Victoria, Gozo. This was also a formative time for me in terms of the example I received and the responsibility shown by the educators we had in that period. These educators treated their job as a vocation.

I started by post-secondary studies when I joined the Augustinian fathers in Rabat, Malta. After studying literature for a year, I studied philosophy for two years at the INSERM (Institutum Nationale Studiorum Ecclesiasticorum Religiosorum). I continued my studies in Theology at the Istitutum Patristicum Augustinianum while I was living at the International College of St Monica in Roma. I then completed a Licentiate in Youth Ministry at the Pontifical Salesian University.

  1. When did you feel the call for a vocation with the Augustinians and what brought this about? 

It so happened that once when the novices at our convent were going out for a walk with the Master, I was invited to join them. On our return they invited me to play ping pong with them and, after that, to pray the rosary in the chapel and I was asked to lead this. I was so happy when I returned home and related this adventure to my mother. My father had already died.

I was then between 10 and 11 years old. Thereafter I made frequent visits to the convent and so I got to know the friars very well. Together with other altar boys we used to indulge in quite a lot of childish pranks. Often Fr. Gibson would invite me to join him for a swim in the morning in summer at Xlendi Bay. He used to talk to me a great deal about the Augustinian mission in Algeria. It was from that moment that the seed for missionary work was sown in me. I used to go for walks towards Sannat with Fr. Felic. We used to sing whilst the organ was played by Fr. Prior especially after a Masconi version was installed. I well remember the Sunday Mass with the singing of the ‘De Angelis’ or the Thursdays dedicated to St. Rita when the hymn ‘Ittir min Moħħna …’ was sung.

One should not forget that in those days silence reigned supreme withing the convent. I well remember the first time that silence impressed me in a very positive way. One used to notice that silence brought with it a sense of togetherness and prayer life was very well organised. During this time that I was close to the friars I noticed their way of life and, whilst I shared with them a communitarian life, I was drawn to this. At the same time I also considered life within the seminary; the Franciscans; the Jesuits and the Salesians.

I never abandoned my social life because I remained close to the Oratory under the then spiritual director. Here I must mention Fr. Karm Mercieca who was a real guardian for us youths. He used to push us to realise our abilities and better understand our own selves. This formation helped me a great deal towards my vocation. This because of my closeness to adults and then with other youths who, like myself, realised their call to a sacerdotal vocation.

Like all other youths I myself had to make a choice. I had a spiritual director who helped me in my quest. I was still young when I chose to join the Augustinian Fathers. I placed myself in God’s hands and when I look back I repeat the words of the profit ‘I was the clay in the hands of the potter’ who slowly was forming my personality.

  1. What do you like doing in your free time? 

Throughout the years I had a number of hobbies. I used to collect stamps, pictures and coins. I wasn’t only interested in the collection itself but also in the general knowledge that one could learn through these collections. During my time in secondary school, I learnt wood work. When I was still at home or during my time of formation in Rabat, together with my friends, we would make some furniture or arrange some of the broken furniture. In the summer months, we used to go round the convents doing odd jobs and arranging any furniture which needed mending.

Another hobby I have is fishing since I can detach myself from the world for a while. However, recently I’ve discovered a new hobby – reading together with writing since I began publishing books on subjects close to my heart.

  1. Can you mention an interesting book you read? What was the subject matter? 

At the moment I am reading “Jerusalem, the Biograph” by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It is a book which narrates the story of Jerusalem based on documentation.

It is a very interesting book particularly from a historical point of view. I enjoy reading history and there are many reasons why I am reading this book. I enjoy reading the Bible, particularly the New Testament, and this book gives me an excellent background of the history, events, culture, and traditions of the Semitic world and the Biblical environment.

Another reason is that I am thinking of writing a book on a very enigmatic person. This book is helping me to understand and to build a number of arguments from a historical and a philosophical perspective in order to be able to answer some questions on this person and the age in which he lived.

  1. Do you have a favourite quotation/saying? 

I have 2 favourite quotes:

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Jn 10,10

"Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Ex 3,5

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