The 112th Anniversary of the birth of Mgr. Mikiel Azzopardi
Thursday, 10th February, 2022 happens to be the 112th anniversary of the birth of Mgr Mikiel Azzopardi, the Founder of Dar tal‑Providenza.
Mikiel Azzopardi was born in Valletta on 10th February 1910, the day Malta commemorates the shipwreck of St. Paul on our shores, of Toninu Azzopardi and Amalja neè Galea. He was baptised three days later at the Parish Church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo in Merchants Street. He received his First Holy Communion at the age of 6 years from Archbishop Dom Mauro Caruana OSB at St John’s Co‑Cathedral and a year later he was confirmed by the Auxiliary Bishop of Malta, Mgr. Angelo Portelli.
He was educated at the Government Primary School in St Elmo, Valletta, at the Seminary of the Diocese of Gozo, the Lyceum in Valletta and then at the Royal University of Malta where he commenced the Law Course which he left four years into it because he felt the call to the priesthood.
Dun Mikiel was ordained on 22 December 1934 at the age of 24 by Archbishop Caruana. Not long after his ordination, the Archbishop appointed him as his personal assistant. In 1940, he was appointed Ecclesiastical Assistant General of the Catholic Action and embarked on organizing and spreading this lay ecclesiastical movement in all parishes of Malta and Gozo. Within the Archdiocese of Malta he set up, amongst other initiatives, the Diocesan Steering Committee for Catholic Associations, as well as Parish Councils.
During the course of his pastoral work, he discovered that various persons with disabilities were living in a deplorable state so much so that they were even hidden in cellars in totally appalling conditions, and in certain cases even unbeknown to their siblings. Persons with disabilities were often ridiculed in public or sent to a hospital which was ill‑equipped for their needs. Dun Mikiel also felt that various families with a disabled member had an urgent need to find people who offered them solace. It was then that the idea started to germinate within him to find a place where these persons could find an environment where to live – an environment that they deserved and that respected their dignity.
Therefore, on 12 September 1965, he started off with a generous donation of LM100 given to him by a lady who had saved the money for a vacation. This was the genesis of Id‑Dar tal‑Providenza, the first Home in Malta that offered residential services to persons with disability. Up to this very day, Id‑Dar tal‑Providenza remains a living miracle of the Divine Providence.
Mgr. Mikiel Azzopardi died on 13 May 1987 at the age of 77 and was buried, as he had always wished, in the courtyard of the Home amongst the persons with disabilities that he loved so intensely.
Photo: Residents place flowers in front of the monument of Mgr Mikiel Azzopardi in Triq Mons. Azzopardi in Siġġiewi.
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