GO AND TEACH ALL NATIONS – 01
Fr John Caruana writing from Brazil
I would like to pass on to the readers, on a weekly basis, selections from my book entitled THE MALTESE MISSSIONARY EXPERIENCE which, as its title infers, is full of experiences which reflect the real life of our missionaries including male and female members of religious orders, diocesan priests and laypeople.
I would like to start this series with a selection from the contribution of Fr Tony Mercieca (MC) who started his vocation as a diocesan priest and later joined the Missionaries of Charity, known as the priests of Mother Theresa.
Fr Tony Mercieca MC
Fr Tony Mercieca MC, still a seminarian, jointly with Fr Paul Chetcuti SJ. and others, founded the Third World Group in 1975 and had their first experience with the poor in Palermo where they received those abandoned in the streets in a huge convent used by the Order of Mother Theresa.
After being ordained priest, still in his first months of his priesthood, he asked Archbishop Mercieca for permission to join the Sisters of Charity of Mother Theresa as a priest and a Brother. The Archbishop, after pondering for some time, realised that Fr Tony is mature enough to take this decision and consented.
Fr Tony MC had Fr Arthur Vella SJ. as spiritual Director. The latter told him that after various experiences, it was time to decide what to do. Life is not made up only of experiences.
Fr Tony entered in contact with Brother Andrew MC, who was responsible for the Brothers, and explained to him that he did not intend to solely administer the sacraments as a priest, but wanted to physically take care of the poor as the Brothers do – wash them, wash their clothes, wash the floors and take care of their health, administering medicines and dressing their wounds.
In Guatemala City, Fr Tony MC gives great importance to the pastoral work with prisoners. He visits the prisons three times a week. During Lent, he spends two days hearing confessions by the prisoners where they relate their life and ask forgiveness of God. He prays the Holy Passion in a procession going around the prisons, concluding the ceremony with the adoration of the Cross. A very moving ceremony indeed, when celebrated in a prison.
Fr Tony confesses that he has and has had his difficult moments. But he always prays the Lord to persevere in his vocation.