Abstracts from THE MALTESE MISSIONARY EXPERIENCE – 17
By Fr John Caruana
The Augustinian Friars (OSA)
The presence of the Augustinian Friars in Algeria is a clear sign of faith for the Church and for their founder Saint Augustine, that Christ is felt in the Algerian population in a tangible way. With its presence, Saint Augustine is living not only in history but even in the spirit of community.
The community of Hippo until recently included two Maltese priests: Fr Pierre Desira and Fr Raphael Abdilla. They lived as witnesses of Christ and of the Augustinian charisma.
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)
The call for the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary to Algeria came from Bishop Leynaud who knew the FMM in Carthage and desired them to take care of have the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the basilica of Our Lady of Africa. The first group arrived in 1920 to take care of the little European and Africans orphan girls.
Muslims liked to pray to the Mother of Jesus and with the motionless adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. The second foundation was in Souk-Ahras in 1934 at the request of the Parish Priest who offered a building and financial help. In 1943, during an air raid the convent was destroyed by a direct hit. Fortunately, the children were in the shelter but fifteen nuns lost their lives under the rubble.
Sr Rosaria Agius FMM of Zebbug lived with three French nuns in an old building which served as barracks. Under this building, a mosque was found and the very same mosque is believed to have been built over a Byzantine Church. Sr Rosaria taught English to children which was a demanding job.
Sister Yvonne Gera of Birkirkara was sent to Algeria from Senegal because of health reasons. In Algeria, she worked in four dioceses. The hospitality of the Algerians was fantastic even when trouble started.
Sr Moira Zarb became a nun at the age of 27 and was sent to Algeria in 1982. The nuns came from France, Japan, Italy and Malta. She was called to open a fraternity in the west to take care of the children and also served in other regions – in Tiaret, Cherchell and in the South.