Abstracts from THE MALTESE MISSIONARY EXPERIENCE – 11
By Fr John Caruana
The late Fr Peter Fenech went to Brazil soon after his ordination on the 7th of April 1962 with his colleague, Fr Frankie Tabone Adami. After a period in the diocese of Londrina in the State of Parana, he moved to the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo serving with the late Cardinal Arns who deeply respected him.
A quality which all his Maltese colleagues appreciated in Fr Fenech during his long stay in Sao Paulo was that his house was always open to all. They could call anytime as they were always welcome and there they could sit down, chat, dine and sleep. Whether his colleagues were in Sao Paulo to attend some seminar or for health reasons as in the case of Fr Joe Galea of Gozo and Fr Dominic Camilleri who both died victims of cancer, his house was always open.
Fr Anton Sammut was called early in life when he was run over by a car during an Easter procession. For four days he was in hospital under observation. The doctors did not note anything serious when suddenly his health deteriorated. Bishop Luciano, Fr Franco together with Xavier, Daniel and John never left his bedside.
In a letter he wrote to his mother, Fr Anton showed total confidence and sincerity in his mother: “Dear Mother, I want your help so that I remain faithful to the mission that God has revealed to me and given me. I can tell you mother that it is not easy for me to remain faithful to God’s mission. If in the letters that I am writing to you, you perceive that something can be wrong with me, advise me right away, so that I revise my actions and projects.”
Fr Charles (Carmel) Borg joined the Order of the Dominicans, was ordained in 1968 and opted to work in Brazil in the State of Parana. He later moved to Sao Paulo as a diocesan priest and published five books: Ver a Vida (To See Life); Venham Comer (Come and Eat); Filho, Vai Trabalhar na Minha Vinha! (Son go to work in my vineyard); Catequese Para Crisma (Catechesis for Confirmation); and Catequese para Batismo (Catechesis for Baptism).
Diocese of Osasco
When Xavier Cutajar, John Mallia and Daniel Balzan were ordained priests, they asked the bishop of their pastoral region to let them work together. At first the bishop did not like the idea but after consulting Cardinal Arns – Sao Paulo was still one diocese at the time – he thought it was wise to give them a chance. They were given a huge parish in the periphery of Sao Paulo. Due to their work were, they were eventually nicknamed The Three Meninos (Boys).
Testimony of Padre Sebastiao dos Reis Miranda
“When we were seminarians we all agreed that it was worth following the footsteps of Xavier, Daniel and John. At that time – in the seventies – the Church in Latin America was taking the first steps in the Conciliar Church, the church of the base communities, the church that made the evangelical option for the poor. I am glad to recall that these three Maltese priests were well committed to this new Church. Their involvement in the social problems of the people caught our attention. Fr Xavier made such an impact with his zeal that he soon became a sense of contradiction for many conservative elements within and outside the Church.
Fr Daniel, always positive in his attitude with his feet firm on the ground, administered the finances of the diocese most efficiently. Fr John Mallia worked hard and methodically in the parish, especially in the field of education and coordinating the work in the schools. Fr Andre Zammit, whom I knew as a seminarian, allowed himself to be influenced by their dedication. Fr Paul Mercieca, a calmer person, always preferred to work in the interior away from the noisy industrial city of Osasco.
When after a decade or so the time came for Xavier, John and Daniel to separate to work in other environments and parishes, it was a sad moment not only for them but for all of us who accompanied and admired their work.”