St George Preca: the Apostle of God’s Redeeming Love

Saint George Preca (+1962)

Today, Thursday 9 May 2024, every corner of the Maltese Islands resounds with great joy a cry of joy and hope. Today, we Maltese joyfully celebrate the life of a holy priest, St George Preca, who, in Pope St John Paul II’s words during the homily of his beatification together with Ignatius Falzon and Sr Maria Adeodata Pisani, was Malta’s second father in faith (no.3).

St George Preca, who was born in Valletta, our capital city, on February 12, 1880 of Vincenzo and Natalina Ceravolo, baptized in the Parish Church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo in Valletta and from the age of 8 living at Ħamrun under the loving protection of St Cajetan, was called by God to fulfil a particular mission. Besides being called to be a priest he was to found a society, the Society of the Christian Doctrine, thanks to which the message of Christ would literally reach the four corners of the earth, particularly where the Maltese would settle.

How powerful are the words Pope St John Paul II said about St George Preca during the homily of his beatication on this very important aspect in his life and mission: Since his death in 1962, shortly before the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed George Preca has been renowned for his holiness both in Malta and wherever the Maltese have settled. Dun Gorg was a pioneer in the field of catechetics and in promoting the role of the laity in the apostolate, which the Council was to stress in a particular way. Thus he became as it were Malta’s second father in faith. Embracing meekness and humility, and using to the full his God-given talents of mind and heart, Dun Gorg made his own the words of Paul to Timothy: “You have heard everything that I teach in public; hand it on to reliable people so that they in turn will be able to teach others” (2 Tim 2: 2). The Society of Christian Doctrine which he founded continues his work of witness and evangelization in these islands and elsewhere (no.3).

Such a wonderful witness was the completion of the prophetic words told by Fr Ercole Mompalao to the then 17-year-old Lyceum student George, while walking along the Maglio Gardens (il-Mall) in Floriana: Preca, when you grow up, people who revere God will befriend you and you them. You will find your good fortune through them and they through you. Nowadays the Society of the Christian Doctrine (MUSEUM), keeps doing exactly what St George did throughout his life here on earth, which continued in heaven from on Thursday evening 26 July 1962 at his house: “San Cajetan”, Parish Street, Santa Venera, Malta, namely spreading the Word of God to children, youths and adults both in Malta and abroad.

St George’s life strongly reflected his meditation of Christ Crucified as the perfect model of instruction and example. In his book The Necessity of Good Instruction on page forty-three, Fr Preca writes: Jesus Christ, the true and only Master of all humanity, and through whom God has communicated to us the knowledge of eternal life, is slain on the cross thus emphasising, by his example, what He had taught. Who does not see the importance of good instruction in this zeal of God to give us his very Son to teach us not only by word but also by example.

The liturgy of his feast day, particularly the Collect prayer of his memorial Mass, reveals the magnificent aposotlic calibre with which the Holy Spirit filled this humble and assiduous priest in the work of evangelization. God our Father, by whom the humble are exalted in Saint George Preca you have give us an example of a committed priest and apostle of the faith, devoted to the formation of the laity; grant that we, like him, may work unceasingly to spread the Gospel for the salvation of the whole world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Let us now enjoy God’s redeeming love for us, humanity, through two prayers written by St George Preca. The first one is called the Quotidie (literally meaning everyday). This prayer is envisaged to be the daily prayer of the Christian. The second one, since the Solemnity of Pentecost, is practically at hand, is about the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.

Lord God, you are here and I am in you: I speak to you and you listen to me: I ask of you and you grant to me because you have shown us in Holy Scripture that it is your delight to be with us your children, and also that it is your wish that we should have recourse to you in all our needs. It is with total confidence, therefore, that we ask of you as children ask of their parents.

– A –

Lord God, glorify your name.

Lord God, reign over all people.

Lord God, defend your honour.

Lord God, make yourself known.

Lord God, do your own will.

Lord God, rejoice in your works.

Lord God, enjoy your own beauty.

Lord God, show the beauty of your law.

Lord God, enjoy your infinite treasures.

– B –

 Lord God, convert sinners to you.

Lord God, give perseverance to the just.

Lord God, save the dying.

Lord God, grant rest to the faithful departed.

Lord God, console those who are sad.

Lord God, enlighten the ignorant.

Lord God, restore health to the sick.

Lord God, help those in need.

Lord God, help those experiencing worries to accept your will.

 – C

Lord God, purify my heart.

Lord God, give me the spirit of Christ.

Lord God, save me from all deceits.

Lord God, lead me in all my ways.

Lord God, make me rejoice in your peace.

Lord God, keep me always in your hands.

Lord God, fill me with the spirit of sacrifice.

Lord God, seek me to adore you.

Lord God, bless my soul at the hour of my death.

Jesus Christ the Nazarene, King of the Jews, the only Son of the living God, and of the Virgin Mother Mary, sole mediator between us and God, show your divine wounds to the Justice of God, and through your merits save the whole world. Amen.

With great faith in the Holy Spirit let us start our day praying to the Holy Spirit with St George Preca:

God the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from God the Father and God the Son, come and remain in us. We need you in everything. We cannot do any good without you.

Come and remain in us in order to enlighten us against the deceits of the devil, of the world and of ourselves; to give us strength for holiness, for forbearance, and for self-denial in everything that pleases us.

Come and remain in us in order to comfort us in every sorrow. It’s only through your help alone that we can live a holy life, shun sin, and eventually, at death, enter into everlasting life where we praise you, the Father and the Son.

St George Preca, pray for us to be, like you, evangelizers of the faith in our own world, everywhere and in every moment of our lives. Amen.

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Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap was born in San Gwann on August 26 1972. After being educated in governmental primary and secondary schools as well as at the Naxxar Trade School he felt the call to enter the Franciscan Capuchin Order. After obtaining the university requirements he entered the Capuchin friary at Kalkara on October 12 1993. A year after he was ordained a priest, precisely on 4 September 2004, his superiors sent him to work with patients as a chaplain first at St. Luke's Hospital and later at Mater Dei. In 2007 Fr Mario obtained a Master's Degree in Hospital Chaplaincy from Sydney College of Divinity, University of Sydney, Australia. From November 2007 till March 2020 Fr Mario was one of the six chaplains who worked at Mater Dei Hospital., Malta's national hospital. Presently he is a chaplain at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre. Furthermore, he is a regular contributor in the MUMN magazine IL-MUSBIEĦ, as well as doing radio programmes on Radio Mario about the spiritual care of the sick.