Last Saturday 4 August, feast of Saint John Marie Vianney, the Holy Curé of Ars, at the Cathedral in Mdina, Malta’s Archbishop, Mgr. Charles J. Scicluna, together with the other co-consecrating bishops, Mgr. Mario Grech and Mgr. Paul Cremona O.P, consecrated Mgr. Joe Galea Curmi as auxiliary bishop of Malta.
Mgr. Galea-Curmi’s episcopal motto, vitam alere caritate (We cherish life with love), is really significant. This powerful phrase reminds of that moving account when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. As Mgr. Galea Curmi said, “life is beautiful when we live it with love. Because it is love that helps the human person to find the fulfillment of his and her life, as Jesus taught us”.
Obviously, that kind of love for human life which starts from its natural beginning till its natural end. In the Malta Independent online interview programme Indepth, Mgr Galea Curmi emphasized that human life should always be cherished irrespective if it is in the form of eight cells in the womb or in the form of a person struggling for his and her life in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. He said that simply because people were coming from African countries we should never refer to them as if they were “a piece of furniture” when compared to other human beings. Mgr Galea Curmi strongly condemned such an attitude: “That is a terrible thing”.
Referring to Pope Francis’ current teaching on the matter he stressed on the importance that people need have a “strong and passionate voice” on bio-ethical issues regarding life, such as IVF as well as concerning those who are seeking shelter in other countries, those people in the Mediterranean and, finally, those who are facing poverty and so cannot live a decent life. Mgr. Galea Curmi appealed that other countries are to be ready in shouldering their responsibilities and “play their part through burden sharing, if it can even be called a burden, in alleviating the difficulties that these people are finding themselves face to face with”.
Another kind of love that Mgr Galea Curmi referred to in his interview is that of connecting more with the people he will be shepherding. He said that he would be joining the social media so as to promote a better relationship between himself and the society at large.
But this beautiful vision needs to be animated by spiritual foundations. So, Mgr. Galea Curmi, I would humbly like to suggest to you some of the characteristics which supported Saint John Marie Vianney’s holy priestly life.
Prayer is foundational. I strongly wish you that you may find long periods spent in prayer in front of the tabernacle. From your union with the Divine Shepherd your episcopal life would irradiate for all of us the same exclamation of the Holy Curé: “I love you, oh my God, and my only desire is to love you until my dying breath”.
Mgr. Galea Curmi, may your episcopal life revolves around the celebrated and adored Eucharist. May you, like the Holy Curé, would proclaim by your life: “He is there!” “There is no reality greater than the Eucharist!” “He awaits us!” Added to this, I wish you that you be tormented by the salvation of your flock. May you strive relentlessly for the noblest and holiest of causes: knowing that you “are accountable to God” for each and every one of us!
The Holy Curé was also a martyr of the confessional. I shall be praying for you so that, as a bishop, you are always there to hear confessions, precisely like Saint John Marie Vianney. What an excellent pastoral service the sacrament of the confessional is! Free us from our sins to receive the loving embrace of the Father!
While keep accompanying our people and appease the suffering their suffering I humbly pray that you be close to us priests. Saint John Marie Vianney said: “Oh, how great a reality lies in the priest !” May you be for us, priests, a living icon of the tenderness of the Father who loves His chosen ones by encouraging, correcting and faithfully accompanying them. Kindly remind us always that we were called to give God to men and men to God! Finally, Mgr Galea Curmi, instill in us all a great love for holiness. Help us to become saints with you! Like the Holy Curé!