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CAM director appointed MSSP regional superior

Just a month short of his 44th birthday, Fr Louis Mallia has been appointed regional superior of the Missionary Society of St Paul, whose primary role in Malta is to promote the missionary vocation of the Church.

Fr Mallia, who joined the society in 1979, will now co-ordinate the MSSP Fathers' different tasks in Malta and Gozo, including their work at St Agatha in Rabat, where the SPMC College houses a community of priests and brothers, the auditorium, an archaeological complex and a novitiate.

In St Venera, the MSSP Fathers run St Joseph's Home, Centru Animazzjoni Missjunarja, CAM Productions International, and the De Piro House of Formation, besides the oratory in Birkirkara and the retreat house in Zebbug, Gozo.

The Missionary Society of St Paul was founded by Mgr Joseph De Piro in June 1910 with a missionary charism so that Maltese priests would become missionaries.

Fr Mallia explains: "Mgr De Piro started off with a small community in Mdina. He sent the first missionary, Br Joseph Caruana, to Ethiopia. Mgr De Piro died young and left the missionary congregation in its very initial stages. Over the years, members joined and the mission started with the Maltese emigrants in Australia and also in the US and Canada.

"Forty years ago, the first group of three missionaries went to work in Peru. Other missions in Pakistan and the Philippines followed. Now we have our general administration in Rome. We can say that we are well established in Australia, mainly in Melbourne and Sydney, in Peru in Arequipa and Lima, in Pakistan in Lahore and Manila, and in Bataan in the Philippines."

Growing up in Zebbug, Gozo, where the MSSP Fathers had only recently established themselves, Fr Mallia was drawn by their modern attitude towards the Church's teachings and admired their missionary spirit.

"At a young age," Fr Mallia recalls, "I was impressed by their way of life and started to attend vocational meetings and later joined the society. Many years have passed and I feel that the beauty and energy of the mission I was given at my younger age is still strong."

The society has about 100 members and many other young people have heeded Fr Louis's same calling. "We have young people joining the mission in Malta. We have two students studying for the priesthood and one novice, with five joining the initial stage: aspirants," Fr Louis explained.

"We also have a community of 15 students in Peru, four in Pakistan and two in the Philippines. We are planning to open an International Theologate in Manila. All the theology students from the different nations we are working in will send students to study theology at this international seminary. So although we are still small, we are very optimistic for the future."

The industrious society needs all the manpower it can get to fulfil its missions in Malta and overseas, as Fr Mallia indicates the work at hand: "Last year we started a food programme in the Philippines, and we are helping three schools through the programme. Since the children there just eat rice, we wanted to give them healthier food. We also have another programme that helps young people to continue their studies in colleges and universities. These sponsorships are changing the lives of many.

"In Pakistan we are sponsoring the education of many students in the three schools we have in Lahore. Education is the tool to a better future. In a country like Pakistan, this is the best help we can give.

"In Peru we are doing a lot of work in public kitchens, schools, clinics and also in a residential home for children with no family. All this is changing the lives of many who are in great need. This year's Ohloq Tbissima marathon is featuring the different projects we are involved in in Peru."

Fr Mallia has been director of the Centru Animazzjoni Missjunarja for several years, where various activities help and promote the MSSP missions and the mission of the Church. The society set up CAM Productions International (CPI) that incorporates a media centre for the production of TV programmes, DVDs and printed material.

"At CPI, we focus on mission and evangelisation locally with the new means of communication. Secondly, we train lay volunteers to go to work in a mission land, mainly Peru, for 12 months. Thirdly, we also work hard to collect money to help the different projects overseas. We are currently helping approximately 15 projects. We also send about five containers a year with food and material to help the poor in very remote areas. All this is done with the help of many lay volunteers who work hard during the year both at CAM and at CPI."

CPI is responsible for the organisation of the fifth annual Ohloq Tbissima marathon, which will be inaugurated by Archbishop Paul Cremona at St Joseph's Home on Friday at noon. Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Opposition Leader Alfred Sant will be there to lend their support.

The 60-hour broadcasting marathon aims to fund-raise for the MSSP's overseas projects while the Fathers take the opportunity to show benefactors where their money is going and how previous donations - Lm65,000 were raised last year - have been spent. There is a jam-packed programme including discussions, activities for children and evening entertainment.

"A few weeks ago, Angele Borg and I visited the mission in Peru to see the projects and also to bring back interviews with missionaries and footage to air during the marathon," Fr Mallia explains.

"Money collected during the marathon will be part of the money sent to these projects. Obviously, the more we receive, the more we send. The needs are huge but we do whatever we can and we constantly see how God's Providence works in all these projects. One liberating idea is that the focus of every missionary is to work for the love of God and the people, so everyone works hard with the only interest of making the poor people better in heart and spirit."

Fr Mallia hopes that by the time the marathon ends at midnight on Sunday, the team at CAM Productions International would have succeeded to share CAM's main ideal: "creating missionary awareness, evangelising through its programmes, and collecting money to continue to sponsor the different projects we are helping throughout the year".

The marathon will also help the needy children of St Joseph's Home, which will feature heavily throughout the event.

"Our success of the marathon is the loving experience of many volunteers who work hard to this good cause," Fr Mallia says. "The good loving spirit fills our enthusiasm and whatever we get is God's Providence and makes us happy to be involved."

The Ohloq Tbissima marathon will be broadcast live on Melita Cable's Channel 12 and Education 22, with various links on TVM, One TV, Net TV and radio stations. Popular personalities, including Hector Bruno, Marbeck Spiteri, Moira Delia, Joseph Chetcuti, Pauline Agius, John Bundy, Josef Bonello and Catherine Mifsud, will participate, while ministers and MPs will take part in games.

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