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New Maltese saint a visionary

OTTAWA (CNS): Tony Vella, the great-nephew of Fr George Preca, said he hopes the charismatic Maltese priest’s life and virtues will be remembered long after his June 3 canonisation.

Mr Vella called his mother’s uncle, whom he knows as “Dun Gorg,” a “pioneer of the lay apostolate.”

When Blessed Preca began his ministry, Malta, an island nation off the coast of Italy, was largely illiterate.

Although Malta is Catholic, the faith there was mingled with superstition.

Soon after his 1906 ordination, Blessed Preca had what Vella described as a “very charismatic experience” that led him to spend three months alone, praying and meditating in a loft and pondering the Bible, especially the New Testament.

A year later, he founded the Society of Christian Doctrine, setting up catechism centers that at first met with a “mixed response” from church authorities.

The Society of Christian Doctrine operates currently in Malta, Kenya, Albania, Sudan, England, Australia and Peru.

Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed Preca in 2001.

Mr Vella said he had joined 4000 Maltese from around the world at the canonisation ceremony in Rome.

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