Mgr Philip Calleja awarded the Premju Dun Mikiel Azzopardi 2018

This year’s Dun Mikiel Azzopardi Award went to Mgr PhIlip Calleja as Id-Dar tal-Providenza’s sign of recognition and appreciation of his work and support of the Siġġiewi Home. After the death of Dun Mikiel in May 1987, Mgr Calleja entrusted by then Archbishop Joseph Mercieca to organise the funeral and to take administer the Home until Mgr Lawrence Gatt was appointed Director.
This was announced by Fr Martin Micallef, Director of id-Dar tal-Providenza, during a concert that took place at the Mdina Cathedral, by the Band of the Armed Forces of Malta under the distinguished patronage of H.E. the President of the Republic, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca and H.G. the Archbishop, Mgr. Charles J. Scicluna.
Mgr Calleja was ordained priest on August 2nd, 1953. His first pastoral work was mainly with the children of Valletta. In 1956, then Archbishop Michael Gonzi appointed him as Deputy at the marriages; office at the Curia. It was literally a providential appointment for Id-Dar tal-Providenza.

In Malta, at that time, quite a number of Maltese young ladies got married to members of the British Services. Fr Philip knew all the Chaplains and when it was time for the Services tom let go of their barracks in Siġġiewi, one of them told him that the rest camp was to be transfer4red to Mellieħa. He also told him that if the Malta Church need the land, it should be applied for without delay. With Fr Philip’s initiative talks soon started so that the camp will be taken over by the Malta Catholic Action and, for the first two years, it was used a summer camp for children. In the meantime, action was set in motion for Dun Mikiel Azzopardi to use the place as the base for Id-Dar tal-Providenza.

Today, at 90 years, Mgr Philip Calleja is the Archdeacon of the Metropolitan Cathedral and attends regularly Dar l-Emigrant, home of the Malta Emigrants’ Commission to help, in every possible way, those that sought his help.

Earlier, Fr Martin Micallef congratulated the President, Marie Louise Coleiro on her birthday. He emphasised that it was wonderful that in the coming feats of Christmas and New Year, besides buying each other gifts, we also put our hands in our pocket and think of those in our society that need some sort of support to be able to live like first class citizens. Fr Martin added: “The generosity of the Maltese people is a beautiful characteristic that distinguishes us but I beg that we do not help financially out of pity for these persons, but because we genuinely wish them to enjoy a quality of life that respects their dignity as befits everyone. I therefore appeal to all Maltese and Gozitans alike to help as much as we can Id-Dar tal-Providenza, the Malta Community Chest Fund and other organisations that work in the social sector so that we will truly have a just scoiety.”

The main address was made by Alishia Xuereb Jones, a parent of an autistic person. She shared with the audience a few thoughts so that in our country we will have awareness on the condition of autism and how we can give these persons affected by it the support they need so that their rights are safeguarded. More awareness of the rights of persons with disability helps people to drop all prejudices and obtacles that do not guarantee a true integration and equality to these persons.

In a short address, Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr Joseph Galea Curmi congratulated Mgr Phlip Calleja for being honoured with the Mons. Mikiel Azzopardi Award and praised him for his long years of hard work that not only symbolises his character but also epitomised the ongoing commitment of the Maltese Church towards the wellbeing of the needy and the emarginated in our society.

The Band of the Armed Forces of Malta was under the direction of Mro Capt. Jonathan Borg. The musical programme included works by Tobani, Tschaikovsky, Mozart, Arnold & Brown, Bach, Rossi, Hahn, Franck and Jenkins. The AFM Band was accompanied by the Coro Bel Canto.

Id-Dar tal-Providenza gives out the Dun Mikiel Azzopardi Award every year in recognition and appreciation of voluntary work done by persons or organisations with persons with disability in Malta and Gozo. The Award was launched for the first time in 1995 to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Id-Dar tal-Providenza. (A list of previous winners of past editions may be seen hereunder).

The concert was organized Id-Dar tal-Providenza with the co-operation of the Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter.

This post is also available in: Maltese