Id-Dar tal-Providenza welcomes its first three residents

On the 11th of February 1968, exactly fifty years ago today, Mary Hayman, Carmen Giudice and Carmen Farrugia were the three little girls that were welcomed as residents at Villa Mons Gonzi, the first of three such villas at the Home. For Mgr Mikiel Azzopardi, the founder of the Home, this was a memorable day. He himself had stated that that was a day he will never forget. At that time, Dun Mikiel said: “I still feel a great excitement when, together with the first group of Sisters (of Charity) and those collaborators whom I used to refer to as my wings, we were waiting at the main door of Villa Mons Gonzi expecting the arrival of the first angels. It was a heavenly joy that continued throughout the whole day that climaxed during the first Mass and when, through the windows of the balcony that gives on to the playground, we looked at the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes to say the prayer on her first apparition.”
Mary Hayman, one of three girls, was also one of the first group of persons with disability that started living in ‘Dar Żerniq’, the first community home that was opened in Siġġiewi. Mary, who was seven years old when she became a resident of Id-Dar tal-Providenza, said this: “When I entered Id-Dar tal-Providenza, I could neither talk nor walk. I had a physiotherapist and a speech therapist who used to come specifically for me at the Home. Dun Mikiel also bought a tricycle for me so that I could start exercising my legs. I don’t recollect exactly for how long I was neither walking nor talking, but I do remember that at thirteen years of age (six years after she became a resident of the Home) I used to attend the Guardian Angel school and a year later I used to go to the Siġġiewi Primary school. I do remember myself walking and talking at the school.”
Carmen Giudice died at Id-Dar tal-Providenza on March 29th 1969 whilst Mary Hayman died on the 21st of December 2006. Carmen Farrugia eventually went back to her family home.

Messa da Requiem

The project
The Medina Foundation for Music is proud to present the latest work by Mro Mark Agius , the Messa da Reqiuem (2017) which will be premiered on the 16th March 2018, at St John’s Co Cathedral by the St Paul Chamber Ensemble, one of Malta’s finest orchestras.

The Messa Da Requiem is a work in eight movements, these being the Introit, Kyrie, Sequence (Dies Irae, which is itself divided into a further eight movements), Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Pie Jesu, Libera Me and In Paradisium, and is scored for orchestra, four soloists, and SATB choir and will feature soloists Karen Gatt Darmenia (Soprano), May Caruana (Controalto), Charles Vincenti (Tenor) and Ivan Vella (Baritone) together with the Rotondo choir of Poznan, Poland.

Background of the Production

Established in 2015, the Medina Foundation for Music is a registered, independent and non-profit organisation in Malta established with the aims of encouraging and facilitating professional musical development and cultural awareness and promoting Malta’s vision as a hub of cultural and educational activity for all regions of the world and in particular for the Euro-Mediterranean region. Above all it believes in cultivating a culture of creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, excellence and flexibility sustained by the values of commitment, dedication and integrity. The Foundation’s Performance Programme is attained through the St Paul Chamber Ensemble.
For more information visit our website: www.medinafoundationformusic.com

What’s so special about this production?

This cultural event is a unique opportunity for the audience to be part of a musical experience in one of the most prestigious historical sites in Malta, St John’s Co-Cathedral whilst supporting a philanthropic cause.

This production is suitable for the general public, particularly those who appreciate classical sacred music and the complexity of a live performance by a large chamber ensemble which will be accompanied by four soloists and a choir from Poznan, Poland, with the participation of Maltese guest singers.

This will also be the first time this work, which is the latest composition by Mro Mark Agius, will be performed.

What is the aim behind this project?

The aim behind the project is twofold. Primarily it is to promote Maltese talent whilst creating a cross-cultural experience through collaboration with one of Poznan’s finest choirs and offering this cultural experience to the general public. Secondly, the event is being held in aid of Id-Dar tal-Providenza which relies to a very large extent on the generosity of its benefactors and the public donations it receives to carry out its mission. Entrance tickets will be sold at the reasonable price of whereby all proceeds will be donated towards Id-Dar tal-Providenza.

Why are we crowdfunding?

The St Paul Chamber Ensemble strives to maintain its standards of musical excellence; however, undertaking such initiatives necessitates covering the necessary costs of venues for the performance and rehearsals, and the expense of a small financial remuneration for its performers. We believe that crowdfunding is an effective method through which individuals and groups who invest confident belief in the principles of the Medina Foundation as well as the ongoing works within and by the St. Paul’s Chamber Ensemble can be directly and personally involved in all of its educational, cultural and philanthropic platforms.

Your support in helping us to fund this philanthropic initiative through sponsorships and donations will be greatly appreciated. Kindly visit our crowdfunding website http://www.zaar.com.mt/projects/messadarequiem/ to view the promotional video, purchase your tickets or offer your donation.

Companies interested in offering their services in kind, such as printing and advertising are welcome to contact the foundation on orchestra@medinafoundationformusic.com.

Sisters of Charity celebrate 50 years of service at Dar tal-Providenza

On Friday, January 12th 2018, the Vicar General, Mgr Joe Galea Curmi, celebrated a Thanksgiving mass at Dar tal-Providenza on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of when the Sisters of Charity of St Jeanne Antide Thouret started their work at the Home. In his homily, Mgr Galea Curmi quoted Pope Francis who in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium states: “If I succeed in helping at least one person in getting a better life, this is already enough to justify my gift of life.” The Vicar General thanked the Sisters of Charity who, fifty years ago, accepted the invitation of Mgr Mikiel Azzopardi and recognised the service at Dar tal-Providenza as the best way to live out their vocation on the example of their Foundress, St Jeanne Antide Thouret. He also thanked the forty-two Sisters who gave their service during the past fifty years and said: “Every Sister is a story in its own right, an act of generosity, and for this we should show gratitude.”

Present for this occasion was the Provincial of the Sisters of Charity for Malta and Italy, Sr Mary Stephanos, who was representing the Superior General Sr Nunzia De Gori. In her speech for the occasion Sr Stephanos said, amongst other things, that she could just imagine what an overwhelming mission it seemed to the Sisters, but on the example of the Foundress, St Jeanne Antide, whose intrepid trust in the Lord has been passed on to them, accepted the mission armed with the only conviction that the God who has called them will walk with them day by day. “I am sure,” she said, “that the word of St Jeanne Antide ‘God is everywhere, the poor are everywhere. This is enough for us’ must have echoed in their hearts and strengthened the resolve to continue to serve God in the person of the needy with the same daring and compassionate spirit of St Vincent de Paule and St Jeanne Antide. We are also here to celebrate God’s faithfulness and goodness that He has shown to them and to all those who entered this sacred place where they witnessed only love and selfless dedication. It is only His boundless love that has given us the ability to give ourselves totally to others and to show them the dignity and respect that every child of God, created in His own image, deserves.”

Fr Martin Micallef, Director of Dar tal-Providenza, said that certainly the residents of the Home can relay to the Sisters of Charity the beautiful words that St Luke used in the Acts of the Apostles to describe the warm welcome given to them by the Maltese inhabitants when they were shipwrecked on our island. ‘We were kindly received by the people of Melita.’ (Acts 28:2). On behalf of the residents, Fr Martin thanked the Sisters for their total dedication towards the persons with disability residing at the Home enabling them to live in a place that respects their dignity and rights.

Historical Information

The Sisters of Charity, or better still the Sisters of St Jeanne Antide Thouret, came to Malta in 1868 and the government immediately entrusted them with the running of his orphanages which were then in Valletta. Later, the government also passed on to them three small schools in Bahrija, Imtahleb and Birzebbuga. The Sisters also started administering the Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja in Santa Genera as well as the Bishop’s Conservatorio in Rabat, Gozo. They then opened schools in Tarxien, St Julian’s and Gudja. But undoubtedly their biggest contribution was in the hospitals where they opened a school for nursing.

Sisters of Charity presented with the Dun Mikiel Azzopardi Award 2017

In 1965, when Dun Mikiel Azzopardi embarked on the construction in Siggiewi of the first home in Malta for persons with disability, he felt that he could not run this Home without the experience of a religious congregation. After his failed attempts to lure the Gwanelljani of Italy and the Franciscan Sisters of Malta, he contacted the Sisters of Charity who had by then established themselves with their charitable works in Malta.

In 1967, Dun Mikiel wrote to the Mother General in Rome, Sor Maria Candida Torchino, requesting her to give her blessing for the Maltese Province to extend a community of her Congregation to Id-Dar tal-Providenza. Mother General gave her approval to the Provincial of Malta, Sor Angela Maria Corbella.

At the beginning of 1968, the building of the first Home, Dun Mikiel named it Villa Monsinjur Gonzi in recognition of a substantial donation that the then Archbishop, Sir Michael Gonzi had made towards this project that was ready to welcome its first residents.

On the 12th of January 1968, a month before the first residents made Villa Monsinjur Gonzi their home, the Mother Provincial sent a small community of Sisters that started living in and preparing for their newwork at Id-Dar tal-Providenza. The first Mother Superior of this community was Sr Maria Assunta Mallia. Living with her were Sr Alessandra De Lazzaro and Sr Agostina Cutajar. For their convent, the Sisters were allocated a site that up to 1962 was used by English officers as a Rest Camp of the British Navy.

On Sunday 11th of February 1968, the feast of the first apparition of Our Lady to the Young Bernadette in the grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, Dun Mikiel and the
Sisters welcomed the first three residents in Villa Monsinjur Gonzi. On February 24th of the same year, an agreement was then signed with the Archbishop’s approval between the Catholic Action and the Congregation of Sisters of St Joan Antide Thouret authorising the Maltese Province to provide its services at the Home.

To the present day, this community continued giving its services to the residents of the Home with immense dedication and love. A total of forty-two Sisters cared for the residents during their fifty years of work at the Home. During this period, the Superiors of this community were Sr Maria Assunta Mallia, Sr Annunziata Cortis, Sr Cecilia Frendo, Sr Maria Ersilia Mifsud, Sr Madalena Fava, Sr Maria Antida Mifsud and Sr Lorenza Borg.

In 2003, the twin Fava sisters, Sr Madalena and Sr Fortunata that served at the Home between 1982 and 1994 were presented with the Dun Mikiel Azzopardi Award in recognition for their work at the Home. This Award has been given every year since 1995 in public recognition of those persons or entities that gave their contribution to persons with disability within and outside the Dar tal-Providenza.

As part of the annual Armed Forces of Malta concert held on December 1st, 2017, at St John’s Co-Cathedral in aid of Dar tal-Providenza, this Award was also given to the Congregation of Sisters of St Jeanne Antide Thouret in recognition of their fifty years of service at the Home.

On New Year’s day, Archbishop Mgr Charles J. Scicluna, in his homily given at Dar tal-Providenza’s chapel said: “Fifty years ago, the Sisters of Charity embarked on this adventure of love to live this charisma of being Sisters of Charity, the Sisters who propagate the love of Christ, the love of God in various situations as they are still doing today.”

Another Feast of Generosity towards Id-Dar tal-Providenza

€1,255,269 were raised during the New Year’s day Feast of Generosity organised by Id-Dar tal-Providenza with the support of RTK Radio. The dry but rather windy weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of the large crowds that made it to Siġġiewi during the day to make their donation under the big tent set up in the parking lot. As has now been the custom, various parishes in Malta and Gozo made special collections during church celebrations and presented them during the telethon.

The Director, Fr Martin Micallef, said that this year’s edition of the Feast of Generosity has once again shown the solidarity with and generosity of the Maltese people towards Id-Dar tal-Providenza. He felt humbled by this record sum. He thanked all Maltese and Gozitans for their generosity as well as the civil, religious and political authorities for their support as well as all those hundreds of volunteers that took part in the organization of the Feast of Generosity. Fr Martin promised that this money will continue to ensure high level of individualized residential services to persons with disabilities in full respect of their rights and dignity.

The first official visitor was H.E. Archbishop Mgr Charles J. Scicluna who also celebrated Mass in the Home’s chapel. During the Homily, the Archbishop announced that the Maltese Church is trusting in the Hands of the Management of Id-Dar Tal-Providenza, more properties, which will be used as residences for persons with disability, within the community.

Other visits during the day were made by the President of Malta, Mrs Marie Louise Coleiro Preca and Mr Preca, Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat, Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government, Dr Owen Bonnici, Nationalist Party Deputy Leaders Mr Robert Arrigo and Mr David Agius who represented Dr Adrian Delia Leader of the Opposition and Nationalist Party who is abroad,Parliamentary Secretary for Persons with Disability and Active Ageing, Mr. Anthony Agius Decelis, Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sports and Volutary Organizations, Mr Clifton Grima, AFM Commander Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi, Archbishop Emeritus H.E. Mgr Paul Cremona OP, Vicar General Mgr Joe Galea Curmi and Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disability, Mr Oliver Scicluna. Members of Parliament from both sides of the House and representatives of constituted bodies also made it to Siġġiewi during the day. €20,967.43 was collected from the Diocese of Gozo.

As part of the Feast of Generosity, €34,300 were raised through an auction of various works of art donated by more than one hundred Maltese and foreign artists. Various bids were placed online but most bidders were there personally to follow the process.

The live television broadcast started at 9.00am with Holy Mass and continued till just after midnight when the total sum collected during the day was announced. TVM, TVM2, ONE TV and NET TV took part for long stretches of the 15-hour televised marathon. This included entertainment provided by the top singers on the island and various entertainers that managed to create a festive family atmosphere.

Feast of Generosity towards Id-Dar Tal-Providenza on New Year’s Day

Details were given on the 22nd edition of the Feast of Generosity that takes place every New Year’s Day. It is organised by Id-Dar tal-Providenza, together with RTK Radio, primarily to raise funds so that it can continue to provide and improve on the services it offers.
Fr Martin Micallef, Director of Id-Dar tal-Providenza, explained the four main reasons behind the Feast of Generosity: to meet up with the residents, to see the capital projects, to raise the much needed funds but more importantly to spread the Home’s message that society has to respect persons with disability, treat them with the dignity they deserve and offer them choices and opportunities that everyone has a right to enjoy.

Mr Anton Attard, speaking on behalf of RTK, said that the marathon had raised over €10 million over the 22year span of its existance. He thanked Tonio Bonello an Sonia Young who had, in the past been instrumental in the creation and fostering of this annual milestone. “The public’s willingness to respond to RTK’s campaigns for Dar tal-Providenza grew like the biblical mustard seed’ said Mr Attard.

The Feast of Generosity kicks off at 9.00am with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Mgr Charles J. Scicluna in the Home’s chapel. Focus will then be on the main stage under the big tent where there will be a spectacle of entertainment and interviews with various personalities who visit the Home during the day.
This year an auction of works of art kindly donated by over one hundred Maltese and foreign artists will again be held as part of the Feast of Generosity. The public will be able to view beforehand these works of art at an exhibition set up in the foyer of Parliament building in Valletta between the 15th and 26th December. Viewing will be between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday whilst on the weekend doors are open between 9.00am and 1.00pm.
The exhibition will be officially opened by the Speaker of the House, the Hon Dr Anġlu Farrugia on Friday 15 December 2017 at 5.00pm
On New Year’s Day they will then be displayed at Id-Dar tal-Providenza. All those wishing to bid for the works of art may do so online on www.dtpauction.com between the 15 December 2017 and 1st January 2018. On New Year’s Day there will also be the possibility for bidding by phone on a number that will be shown on the TV screens during the broadcast on the main local TV stations. One may also visit the hall at Id-Dar tal-Providenza in Siġġiewi where the works may also be viewed. The catalogue with all the works of art may be viewed on www.dtpauction.com as from the 15 December.
For the benefit of those who will not be able to visit id-Dar tal-Providenza, the whole telethon, which ends around midnight, will be relayed ‘live’ on the main television stations. Donations may be made at the Home in Siġġiewi, at Radio RTK studios in Blata l-Bajda or by phone as follows:
€10 Donation – 516 02 012
€15 Donation – 517 02 013
€25 Donation – 518 02 014

Sisters of Charity presented with the Dun Mikiel Azzopardi Award 2017

The Dun Mikiel Azzopardi Award 2017 was presented to the Sisters of Charity in recognition of and appreciation for the fifty years of service at Id-Dar tal-Providenza. Sr Natalie Abela, Maltese delegate for the Malta-Italy Province together with Sr Lorenza Borg, Superior of the community of Sisters that work at Id-Dar tal-Providenza.

This was announced by Fr Martin Micallef, Director of the Home, during a concert by the band of the Armed Forces of Malta at St John’s Co-Cathedral under the distinguished patronage of the President of the Republic, Mrs Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and H.G. the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr Charles J. Scicluna.

In 1965, when Dun Mikiel Azzopardi embarked on the construction in Siggiewi of the first home in Malta for persons with disability, he felt that he could not run this Home without the experience of a religious congregation. After his failed attempts to lure the Gwanelljani of Italy and the Franciscan Sisters of Malta, he contacted the Sisters of Charity who had by then established themselves with their charitable works in Malta.

In 1967, Dun Mikiel wrote to the Mother General in Rome, Sor Maria Candida Torchino, requesting her to give her blessing for the Maltese Province to extend a community of her Congregation to Id-Dar tal-Providenza. Mother General gave her approval to the Provincial of Malta, Sor Angela Maria Corbella.

At the beginning of 1968, the building of the first Home, Dun Mikiel named it Villa Monsinjur Gonzi in recognition of a substantial donation that the then Archbishop, Sir Michael Gonzi had made towards this project that was ready to welcome its first residents.

On the 12th of January 1968, a month before the first residents made Villa Monsinjur Gonzi their home, the Mother Provincial sent a small community of Sisters that started living in and preparing for their new work at Id-Dar tal-Providenza. The first Mother Superior of this community was Sor Maria Assunta Mallia. Living with her were Sor Alessandra De Lazzaro and Sor Agostina Cutajar. For their convent, the Sisters were allocated a site that up to 1962 was used by English officers as a Rest Camp of the British Navy. On Sunday 11th of February 1968, the feast of the first apparition of Our Lady to the young Bernadette in the grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, Dun Mikiel and the Sisters welcomed the first three residents in Villa Monsinjur Gonzi. On February 24th of the same year, an agreement was then signed with the Archbishop’s approval between the Catholic Action and the Congregation of Sisters of St Joan Antide Thouret authorising the Maltese Province to provide its services at the Home.

To the present day, this community continued giving its services to the residents of the Home with immense dedication and love. A total of forty-two Sisters cared for the residents during their fifty years of work at the Home. During this period, the Superiors of this community were Sor Maria Assunta Mallia, Sr Annunziata Cortis, Sr Cecilia Frendo, Sr Maria Ersilia Mifsud, Sr Madalena Fava, Sr Maria Antida Mifsud and Sr Lorenza Borg.

Fr Martin said that the 50th Anniversary of the Sisters of Charity’s work at the Home encourages us to look ahead so that we commit ourselves to continue on what has been built so far and improve on it. “Id-Dar tal-Providenza is committed to being a strong signal to Maltese society that persons with disability deserve, like everyone else, the respect, dignity and rights due to them from conception to death. There are still those who discriminate but we need to continue to strive so that persons with disability are given what is theirs by right in our society and the Church.”

The main address for the occasion was made by Isabelle Bonello, a girl with intellectual disability, who in these last years worked on an inclusive research together with the Department for Studies on Disability at the University of Malta on the experience of overprotection in the lives of persons with intellectual disability in Malta. Ms Bonello spoke of negative as well as positive experiences of overprotection. She emphasized on how much help is very important in the lives of persons with intellectual disability. “In my experience,” she said, “when I find persons who help me and explain to me gently, I learn and become able to do new things. For example, at work I found someone who helped me use the scanner and now I work long hours on it and make more money. The Agenzija Sapport had allocated to me a support worker to help me use the public transport on my own and today I go to different places using the bus. I also find help from my family. When you work with persons with intellectual disability it is important not to make them lose heart. When you tend not to get anywhere, be patient and if need be explain more than once. Where a person still requires help, we still need to listen to him/her to help him/her achieve his/her aims”.

The Archbishop, Mgr Charles J. Scicluna thanked the Armed Forces of Malta and the Commander for this wonderful experience, this collaboration between the Armed Forces, the State and Id-Dar tal-Providenza. “It is,” he said, “an experience of solidarity. “He also thanked the Sisters for being solid witnesses to the word of Christ day by day. He said they were part of the beauty of the Church. “This cathedral,” said the Archbishop, “is beautiful but the beauty of the Church is in its witnessing of the gospel and I thank you also because I know from personal experience that you do your work with a smile and serenity even in difficult moments.”

On her part, the President of Malta, H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca also thanked the Sisters of Charity who in her own words amazed her because there isn’t one aspect of vulnerability that they are not in the forefront of. “I wish to thank you on behalf of the people of Malta,” said the President, “because your witnessing of the social teachings is beneficial to all Maltese and Gozitans.”

The President of Malta thanked all the workers at Id-Dar tal-Providenza, the parents and all those that give a helping hand. This Home remains an example of all that is close to our heart. Dun Mikiel Azzopardi was here much before laws were enacted nationally and internationally. The President concluded saying: “There was already the vision of what we today refer to as ‘sheltered living’ and ‘independent living’ and all the other things that we brag about that we did and legislated. Mgr Mikiel Azzopardi remains an icon of greatness and goodness.”

The Band of the Armed Forces of Malta was under the baton of Mro. WO1 Jonathan Borg. The concert programme included musical works by Hanson, Beethoven, Brooks, Haydn, Handel and local composers Joseph Sammut, Antonio Nani and George Zammit. The Band was accompanied by the Coro Bel Canto with the participation of tenors Gnr George Zammit and Charles Vella Zarb and baritone Alfred Camilleri.

Id-Dar tal-Providenza every year gives the Dun Mikiel Azzopardi award in recognition of the voluntary contribution of persons or organisations in the disability sector in Malta and Gozo. This award was launched for the first time in 1995 on the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Home.

The band concert was organised by Id-Dar tal-Providenza courtesy of the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation and with the assistance of Mr Tonio Bonello.

MEP Roberta Metsola pays visit to Id-Dar tal-Providenza

Maltese European Member of Parliament Roberta Metsola paid a visit to Id-Dar tal-Providenza and was welcomed by its Director, Fr Martin Micallef and members of the Administration. Read more

“Sanctuary”

“Sanctuary”, a concert of Sacred Music by the St Paul Chamber Ensemble under the direction of Chev Mro Mark Agius was held at St Francis Church in Valletta in aid of Id-Dar tal-Providenza.

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New Apostolic Nuncio for Malta pays official visit to Id-Dar tal-Providenza.

The new Apostolic Nuncio for Malta, H.E. Mgr Alessandro D’Errico paid an official visit to Id-Dar tal-Providenza in Siġġiewi. He was welcomed by Fr Martin Micallef, Director of the Home and met the residents and their support workers. He also found time to visit the chapel and Dun Mikiel’s Museum and grave and then toured the therapeutic pool and the St Isidore Agriculture Centre.

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Address of the Holy Father to the participants in the Conference Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities

Address of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters,

I rejoice at meeting you, especially because in these days you have considered a theme of great importance for the life of the Church in her work of evangelization and Christian formation: Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities. I thank H.E. Msgr. Fisichella for his introduction, the dicastery over which he presides for its service, and all of you for your work in this field.

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