Abstracts from THE MALTESE MISSIONARY EXPERIENCE – 15
By Fr John Caruana
Mgr Robert Camilleri Azzopardi from Hamrun, started his mission in Honduras in 1979 as vice parish priest, then parish priest for 13 years, in a parish comprising of 78 villages. In 1993, he was appointed Superior of the Franciscan Mission and in 1995 as Rector of St Francis’ Institute in Tegucigalba serving 2,300 students, from kindergarten up to University.
In 2001, Mgr Camilleri was made bishop of the capital Tegucigalpa, by Pope John Paul II. On the 24th of July 2004, Bishop Robert became titular Bishop of the Diocese of Comayagua in Central Honduras with a population of 700,000 Catholics.
Mgr Jose Bonello of Xaghra, Gozo, who also belonged to the Friars Minor, was made Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Juticalpa by Pope Benedict XVI. As a motto for his new ministry he chose ‘Patientia Omnia Potest’ (Patience can achieve Everything). Contemporaneously, he was chosen for three periods as Counsellor for Central America in the Franciscan Foundation of the Province of the Immaculate Conception of New York. In 2009 he was nominated Vicar General of the Diocese of Comayagua by the bishop of the diocese Mgr Robert Camilleri OFM. He has been a missionary in Central America since 1989.
Turks and Caicos Islands
Mgr Peter Baldachino never imagined that he would become a priest, let alone a bishop. He had found his place in society with a good job as a Technical Manager with Canada Dry. He was attending the 4th World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela in 1989 when he first felt the call to priesthood, but he tried to convince himself that he had no vocation. Helped by the brethren of the Neo-Catechumenal Way and by the late Dun Manwel Agius, Peter finally responded to the call in October 1990 and was sent to study at Newark, New Jersey, USA.
He was soon posted to the Missio Sui Juris of the Turks and Caicos Islands (British West Indies) by Cardinal Theodore Mc Carrick in 2009. For Mgr Baldacchino, work among youths is very important regardless of one’s religious affiliation. What is important is that youths are being kept off the streets which are becoming very unsafe. Pope benedict XVI made him Chaplain to His Holiness and in 2014, Pope Francis appointed Mgr Baldacchino as new Auxiliary Bishop for Miami.
As a newly ordained priest, Fr Vincent Costa, formerly of B’Kara, started his pastoral activity in the Cathedral Nossa Senhora da Gloria in Maringa, Parana, Brazil. He gave great importance to pastoral work with Youth Together. Together with Edwin Parascandolo, he was sent to Sao Jorge, a parish in the interior. Fr Costa remembers with special gratification his work in the parish of Nossa Senhora das Gracias in the city of Sarandi, then a very challenging periphery. There he planted the methodology of the Comunidades Ecclesias de Base, dividing the parish in about twenty-one small communities, a move that was very well accepted. From Sarandi he was appointed the coordinator of the pastoral activity of the Archdiocese of Maringa. After four years he flew to Rome for post-graduate studies specialising in the gospel of St John. His thesis was titled, “Historia e Fe’ a Comunidade Joanina according to Raymond E. Brown.” On returning to Brazil, he was once again appointed Coordinator of Pastoral Activity after which he was made Auxiliary Bishop to Bishop Albano Cavallin of the Archdiocese of Londrina. Five years later he became titular bishop of the Diocese of Umuarama still in Parana. Today he is titular bishop of Jundiai in the State of Sao Paulo.
Mgr Walter Michael Ebejer OP. Among the first Dominicans to go to Brazil was Mgr Walter Michael Ebejer born in August 1929 in Dingli. The Dominican Order sent him to follow a two year course in Philosophy at Hawkesyard Rugely, Staffordshire and another two years in Theology at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He was ordained priest in Malta in 1954, and gained the Dominican Academic title of Lector in Philosophy and Sacred Theology. During the time he spent teaching at St Albert the Great College in Malta, he gained by correspondence, a Diploma in Languages of the Intermediate Arts from the University of London.
But all this academic success was overshadowed by a single dream: becoming a missionary at the frontiers of the Church. He started his mission in Brazil with his companion Fr Iznard Farrugia OP. in the Diocese of Goias, in the heartland of Brazil. After three years he moved to Faxxinal in the State of Parana. He lectured at the new Theology School for Laymen and at the Studium Theologicum for seminarians in Curitiba. He also taught Dogmatic Theology for six years before he was appointed bishop-elect of the new Diocese Uniao de Vitoria by Pope Paul VI on the 3rd December 1976.
Rev Redent Maria Gauci born on December 27 1920 in Valletta, was ordained priest through the Order of the Carmelite Friars in 1943 at the hands of Mgr E. Galea. He went to Peru with another three companions in 1949. Aged 41, he became the first Prelate of the first territorial Prelature of Chuquibamba under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Arequipa in June 1962. He was later in APril 1967 consecrated bishop at St John’s Co-Cathedral. At the age of 57 he resigned for health reasons, returned to Malta and died at the Blues Sisters hospital on February 10, 1978.