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.”

Is-Sorijiet tal-Karità jiċċelebraw 50 sena ta’ ħidma fid-Dar tal-Providenza   

Nhar il-Ġimgħa 12 ta’ Jannar 2018 Mons Joe Galea Curmi Vigarju Ġenerali qaddes quddiesa ta’ ringrazzjament fid-Dar tal-Providenza fl-okkażjoni tal-50 anniversarju minn meta s-Sorijiet tal-Karità ta’ Santa Ġovanna Antida Thouret bdew il-ħdima tagħhom f’din id-Dar.

Fl-omelija tiegħu Mons Galea Curmi ikkwota lill-Papa Franġsiku li f’eapa Franġisku f’Evangelii gaudium, jgħid: “Jekk jirnexxieli ngħin imqar persuna waħda tgħix aħjar, dan hu diġà biżżejjed biex jiġġustifika d-don ta’ ħajti.” Huwa rringrazzja lis-Sorijiet tal-Karità li 50 sena ilu aċċettaw l-istedina ta’ Mons. Mikiel Azzopardi u għarafu s-servizz fid-Dar tal-Providenza bħala mod mill-isbaħ kif tgħixu l-vokazzjoni tagħhom fuq l-eżempju tal-fundatriċi tagħhom Santa Giovanna Antida Thouret. Huwa rrinrazzja wkoll lit-42 soru li taw is-servizz tagħhom hawn tul dawn il-ħamsin sena u qalli li “kull soru hi ġrajja għaliha, ġrajja ta’ ġenerożità, u ta’ dan nuru gratitudni kbira.”
Għal din l-okkażjoni kienet preżenti l-Provinċjali tas-Sorijiet tal-Karità għal Malta u l-Italja Sr Mary Stephanos li ġie tirrapreżenta s-Superjura Ġeneral Sr Nunzia De Gori. Fid-diskors tagħha hija fost oħrajn qalet li tista’ biss nimmaġina kemm għas-sorijiet fil-bidu din il-missjoni deheret diffiċli għalihom, imma fuq l-eżempju tal-Fundatriċi tagħna, Santa Ġovanna Antida li kellha fiduċja għamja fil-Mulej, huma daħlu b’ruħhom u ġisimhom għal dan ix-xogħol, konvinti li Alla, li sejħilhom, ma kien ser jabbandunahom qatt. “Jiena ċerta, li l-kliem ta’ Santa Ġovanna Antida “Alla huwa kullimkien, il-foqra huma kullimkien. Dan huwa biżżejjed għalina” qawwielhom qalbhom u saħħaħhom fl-għan tagħhom li jkomplu jservu lil Alla fil-persuna ta’ dawk li huma fil-bżonn bl-istess spirtu u imħabba li San Vinċenz De Paule u Santa Ġovanna Antida urew matul ħajjithom kollha. Illum qegħdin hawn biex fuq kollox infakkru l-fedeltà u l-ħniena li Alla wera magħhom u ma’ kull min daħal f’dan il-post sagru fejn raw biss imħabba u dedikazzjoni bla qies. Hija biss l-imħabba infinita tiegħu li tagħtina l-kapaċità li ningħataw kompletament għall-oħrajn u nuruhom id-dinjità u r-rispett, li kull persuna maħluqa xbieha t’Alla jistħoqqilha.
Fr Martin Direttur tad-Dar tal-Providenza qal li żgur li r-residenti tad-Dar tal-Providenza u jistgħu jgħidu lis-Sorijiet tal-Karità l-kliem sabiħ li bih San Luqa fl-Atti tal-Appostli deskriva l-akkoljenza tal-Maltin wara n-nawfraġju tagħhom f’Malta: “Ġiebu ruħhom magħna bi ħlewwa li ma bħalha.” Atti 28,2. Fl-isem ir-residenti huwa rringrazzja lis-sorijiet għad-dedikazzjoni tagħhom f’għotja sħiħa u disinteressata biex il-persuni b’diżabilità li jgħixu fid-Dar isibu ambjent li jirrispetta d-dinjità u d-dirittijiet tagħhom.

Is-Sorijiet tal-Karità jew aħjar is-sorijiet ta’ Santa Giovanna Antida Thouret ġew f’Malta fl-1868, u minnufih il-Gvern fdalhom f’idejhom l-orfanatrofji tiegħu, li dak iż-żmien kienu l-Belt Valletta. Biż-żmien il-Gvern fdalhom tlett skejjel żgħar, il-Baħrija, l-Imtaħleb u Birżebbuġa. Is-sorijiet bdew jieħdu ħsieb ukoll il-Konservatorju Vincenzo Bugeja f’Santa Venera u l-Konservatorju tal-Isqof fir-Rabat Għawdex. Fetħu wkoll skejjel f’Ħal Tarxien, San Ġiljan u l-Gudja. L-akbar ħidma tagħhom kienet fl-isptarijiet fejn fetħu skola għall-infermiera.

Fl-1965 meta Dun Mikiel Azzopardi beda l-ħidma biex jibni fis-Siġġiewi l-ewwel dar f’Malta għall-persuni b’diżabilità ħass li ma setax imexxi din id-Dar mingħajr l-esperjenza ta’ xi kongregzzjoni reliġjuża. Bl-approvazzjoni tad-Direttur Ġenerali tal-Azzjoni Kattolika Maltija kien ippreżenta memorandum bi pjan għall-iżvillup tad-Daru mar Ruma fejn għamel kuntatti mal-Opera di Don Orione biex jiġu Mlata u jieħdu ħsieb it-tmexxija tad-Dar. Meta dawn in-negozjati fallew, hu irrikorra għall-Kongragazzjoni oħra dik tas-Servi della Carità (Opera Don Guantella). L-Azzjoni Kattolika Maltija kellha diversi laqgħat anke hawn Malta, mas-Superjur Ġenerali, Padre Amado Pudino u diriġenti oħra tal-istess Opra, iżda dan it-tentattiv falla wkoll. Kienu wkoll avviċinati s-Sorjiet Franġiskani tal-Qalb ta’ Ġesù f”Malta iżda dawn ukoll ma aċċettawx. Wara Dun Mikiel irrrikorra għas-Sorijiet ta’ Karità li issa kienu stabbilew sew fil-ħidma karittatevoli tagħhom f’Malta.

Fl-1967, Dun Mikiel kiteb lill-Madre Ġenerali f’Ruma Sor Maria Candida Torchino, jitlobha li tagħti l-barka tagħha lill-Provinċja Maltija biex tiftaħ komunità tal-Kongregazzjoni tagħha fid-Dar tal-Providenza. Il-Madre Generali aċċettat din it-talba u tat il-kunsens tagħha lill-Provinċjali ta’ Malta, Sor Angela Maria Corbella.

Fil-bidu tas-sena 1968, il-bini tal-ewwel dar li Dun Mikiel semma Villa Monsinjur Gonzi bħala rikonoxximent lill-Arċisqof ta’ dak iż-żmien Sir Mikiel Gonzi li kien ta donazzjoni sostanzjali għal din l-opra kien għoddu lest biex tilqa’ l-ewwel residenti.

Fit-12 ta’ Jannar 1968, xahar qabel daħlu l-ewwel residenti f’Villa Mons. Gonzi, il-Madre Provinċjali bagħtet komunità żgħira ta’ sorijiet li bdew jgħixu u jippreparaw għal din il-ħidma ġdida fid-Dar tal-Providenza. L-ewwel superjura ta’ din il-komunità kienet Sor Maria Assunta Mallia. Magħha kien hemm Sor Alexandra Delazzaio u Sor Agostina Cutajar. Bħala kunvent is-sorijiet ingħataw binja li sal-1962 kienet tintuża mill-fizzjali Inglizi billi l-post fejn Dun Mikiel beda jibni Villa Monsinjur Gonzi kien Rest Camp tan-Navy Ingliza.

Nhar il-Ħadd 11 ta’ Frar 1968, il-festa ta’ l-ewwel dehra tal-Madonna liċ-ċkejkna Bernardette ġewwa l-grotta ta’ Masabielle ġewwa Lourdes, Dun Mikiel u s-sorijiet laqgħu l-ewwel tlett residenti f’Villa Mons Gonzi.

Fl-24 ta’ Frar ta’ dik is-sena mbagħad, ġie iffirmat ftehim uffiċċjali bl-approvazzjoni tal-Arċisqof bejn l-Azzjoni Kattolika u l-Kongregazzjoni tas-Sorijiet ta’ Santa Giovanna Antida Thouret biex il-Provincja Maltija tagħti s-servizzi tagħha lid-Dar. Minn dak iż-żmien sal-lum, din il-komunità baqgħet tissapportja lir-residenti b’dedikazzjoni u imħabba kbira.

Minn dak in-nhar sal-lum, din il-komunità baqgħet taqdi lir-residenti tad-dar b’dedikazzjoni u imħabba kbira. 42 soru taw is-servizz tagħhom lir-residenti tul il-ħamsin sena tal-ħidma tagħhom f’din id-Dar. Tul dan iż-żmien is-superjuri ta’ din il-komunità kienu Sor Maria Assunta Mallia, Sr Annunziata Cortis, Sr Cecilia Frendo, Sr Maria Ersilia Mifsud, Sr Madalena Fava, Sr Maria Antida Mifsud u Sr Lorenza Borg.

Fl-2003 is-sorijiet tewmin Sr Madalena Fava u Sr Fortunata Fava li servew lid-Dar bejn l-1982 sal-1994 ingħataw il-Premju Dun Mikiel Azzopardi bħala rikonoxximent għall-ħidma tagħhom f’din id-Dar. Dan il-premju beda jingħata kull sena mill-1995 bħala rikonoxximent pubbliku lil dawk il-persuni li jkunu taw kontribut fil-qasam tal-persuni b’diżabiltà jew fid-Dar tal-Providenza. Fl-1 ta’ Diċembru 2017 waqt Kunċert annwali mtellgħa mill-Banda tal-Forzi Armati ta’ Malta fil-Kon Katidral ta’ San Ġwann b’risq id-Dar tal-Providenza dan il-Premju ingħata wkoll lill-Kongregazzjoni tas-Sorijiet ta’ Santa Giovanna Antida Thouret bħal rikonoxximent għall-50 sena ta’ ħidma fid-Dar tal-Providenza.

Monsinjur Arċisqof Charles J. Scicluna fl-Omelija tiegħu fid-Dar tal-Providenza nhar l-1 ta’ Jannar 2018 qal li “50 sena ilu, is-Sorijiet tal-Karità bdew din l-avventura ta’ mħabba propju biex jgħixu l-kariżma tagħhom li jkunu s-sorijiet tal-karità, is-sorijiet li jwasslu l-imħabba ta’ Ġesù, l-imħabba ta’ Alla f’tant ambjenti differenti, kif għadhom jagħmlu sal-lum.”

Informazzjoni Storika

Is-Sorijiet tal-Karità jew aħjar is-sorijiet ta’ Santa Giovanna Antida Thouret ġew f’Malta fl-1868, u minnufih il-Gvern fdalhom f’idejhom l-orfanatrofji tiegħu, li dak iż-żmien kienu l-Belt Valletta. Biż-żmien il-Gvern fdalhom tlett skejjel żgħar, il-Baħrija, l-Imtaħleb u Birżebbuġa. Is-sorijiet bdew jieħdu ħsieb ukoll il-Konservatorju Vincenzo Bugeja f’Santa Venera u l-Konservatorju tal-Isqof fir-Rabat Għawdex. Fetħu wkoll skejjel f’Ħal Tarxien, San Ġiljan u l-Gudja. L-akbar ħidma tagħhom kienet fl-isptarijiet fejn fetħu skola għall-infermiera.

Fl-1965 meta Dun Mikiel Azzopardi beda l-ħidma biex jibni fis-Siġġiewi l-ewwel dar f’Malta għall-persuni b’diżabilità ħass li ma setax imexxi din id-Dar mingħajr l-esperjenza ta’ xi kongregzzjoni reliġjuża. Bl-approvazzjoni tad-Direttur Ġenerali tal-Azzjoni Kattolika Maltija kien ippreżenta memorandum bi pjan għall-iżvillup tad-Daru mar Ruma fejn għamel kuntatti mal-Opera di Don Orione biex jiġu Mlata u jieħdu ħsieb it-tmexxija tad-Dar. Meta dawn in-negozjati fallew, hu irrikorra għall-Kongragazzjoni oħra dik tas-Servi della Carità (Opera Don Guantella). L-Azzjoni Kattolika Maltija kellha diversi laqgħat anke hawn Malta, mas-Superjur Ġenerali, Padre Amado Pudino u diriġenti oħra tal-istess Opra, iżda dan it-tentattiv falla wkoll. Kienu wkoll avviċinati s-Sorjiet Franġiskani tal-Qalb ta’ Ġesù f”Malta iżda dawn ukoll ma aċċettawx. Wara Dun Mikiel irrrikorra għas-Sorijiet ta’ Karità li issa kienu stabbilew sew fil-ħidma karittatevoli tagħhom f’Malta.

Fl-1967, Dun Mikiel kiteb lill-Madre Ġenerali f’Ruma Sor Maria Candida Torchino, jitlobha li tagħti l-barka tagħha lill-Provinċja Maltija biex tiftaħ komunità tal-Kongregazzjoni tagħha fid-Dar tal-Providenza. Il-Madre Generali aċċettat din it-talba u tat il-kunsens tagħha lill-Provinċjali ta’ Malta, Sor Angela Maria Corbella.

Fil-bidu tas-sena 1968, il-bini tal-ewwel dar li Dun Mikiel semma Villa Monsinjur Gonzi bħala rikonoxximent lill-Arċisqof ta’ dak iż-żmien Sir Mikiel Gonzi li kien ta donazzjoni sostanzjali għal din l-opra kien għoddu lest biex tilqa’ l-ewwel residenti.

Fit-12 ta’ Jannar 1968, xahar qabel daħlu l-ewwel residenti f’Villa Mons. Gonzi, il-Madre Provinċjali bagħtet komunità żgħira ta’ sorijiet li bdew jgħixu u jippreparaw għal din il-ħidma ġdida fid-Dar tal-Providenza. L-ewwel superjura ta’ din il-komunità kienet Sor Maria Assunta Mallia. Magħha kien hemm Sor Alexandra Delazzaio u Sor Agostina Cutajar. Bħala kunvent is-sorijiet ingħataw binja li sal-1962 kienet tintuża mill-fizzjali Inglizi billi l-post fejn Dun Mikiel beda jibni Villa Monsinjur Gonzi kien Rest Camp tan-Navy Ingliza.

Nhar il-Ħadd 11 ta’ Frar 1968, il-festa ta’ l-ewwel dehra tal-Madonna liċ-ċkejkna Bernardette ġewwa l-grotta ta’ Masabielle ġewwa Lourdes, Dun Mikiel u s-sorijiet laqgħu l-ewwel tlett residenti f’Villa Mons Gonzi.

Fl-24 ta’ Frar ta’ dik is-sena mbagħad, ġie iffirmat ftehim uffiċċjali bl-approvazzjoni tal-Arċisqof bejn l-Azzjoni Kattolika u l-Kongregazzjoni tas-Sorijiet ta’ Santa Giovanna Antida Thouret biex il-Provincja Maltija tagħti s-servizzi tagħha lid-Dar. Minn dak iż-żmien sal-lum, din il-komunità baqgħet tissapportja lir-residenti b’dedikazzjoni u imħabba kbira.

Minn dak in-nhar sal-lum, din il-komunità baqgħet taqdi lir-residenti tad-dar b’dedikazzjoni u imħabba kbira. 42 soru taw is-servizz tagħhom lir-residenti tul il-ħamsin sena tal-ħidma tagħhom f’din id-Dar. Tul dan iż-żmien is-superjuri ta’ din il-komunità kienu Sor Maria Assunta Mallia, Sr Annunziata Cortis, Sr Cecilia Frendo, Sr Maria Ersilia Mifsud, Sr Madalena Fava, Sr Maria Antida Mifsud u Sr Lorenza Borg.

Fl-2003 is-sorijiet tewmin Sr Madalena Fava u Sr Fortunata Fava li servew lid-Dar bejn l-1982 sal-1994 ingħataw il-Premju Dun Mikiel Azzopardi bħala rikonoxximent għall-ħidma tagħhom f’din id-Dar. Dan il-premju beda jingħata kull sena mill-1995 bħala rikonoxximent pubbliku lil dawk il-persuni li jkunu taw kontribut fil-qasam tal-persuni b’diżabiltà jew fid-Dar tal-Providenza. Fl-1 ta’ Diċembru 2017 waqt Kunċert annwali mtellgħa mill-Banda tal-Forzi Armati ta’ Malta fil-Kon Katidral ta’ San Ġwann b’risq id-Dar tal-Providenza dan il-Premju ingħata wkoll lill-Kongregazzjoni tas-Sorijiet ta’ Santa Giovanna Antida Thouret bħal rikonoxximent għall-50 sena ta’ ħidma fid-Dar tal-Providenza.

Monsinjur Arċisqof Charles J. Scicluna fl-Omelija tiegħu fid-Dar tal-Providenza nhar l-1 ta’ Jannar 2018 qal li “50 sena ilu, is-Sorijiet tal-Karità bdew din l-avventura ta’ mħabba propju biex jgħixu l-kariżma tagħhom li jkunu s-sorijiet tal-karità, is-sorijiet li jwasslu l-imħabba ta’ Ġesù, l-imħabba ta’ Alla f’tant ambjenti differenti, kif għadhom jagħmlu sal-lum.”