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Watch: Mġarr residents who would have dined alone get together for New Year's lunch

'A meal between friends'

Twenty people joined Mġarr parish priest Kalċidon Vassallo on Monday at his New Year’s lunch.

With helpers from the Diakonia Commission, elderly people who had no family to celebrate the New Year with turned to the parish community for refuge.

Five years ago Mgr Vassallo opened the doors of his home at his former parish of Balzan to welcome those who would have dined alone. The tradition moved to Mġarr when he became parish priest in the village, where it has been held for the past three years.

Mgr Vassallo said that the community comes together every year to celebrate this special occasion.

“People enjoy meeting up once a year to rekindle friendships,” he said.

One of the helpers, Giovanna Bugeja, said last year the commission also visited more than 50 former Mġarr parishioners in different homes for the elderly.

Sometimes people are too proud to reach out to others

John Meli Bezzina, 70, would have spent his New Year’s Day whiling the time away at the shops. “I always recognise the community’s generosity,” he said.

“I come here every year, and it’s a chance to meet friends.”

“This initiative is important for me in particular, because the Church needs to be close to those in need,” he added.

Mgr Vassallo said that there were people who hesitate to admit that they will be spending the holidays alone.

“The biggest goal for this community is to encourage those who spend their celebrations alone to join us,” he said.

Being alone is nothing to be ashamed off. I have no family, no siblings.

Sometimes, he added, people are too proud to reach out to others.

Mgr Vassallo would have also spent the New Year’s celebrations alone had he not organised the lunch.

“Being alone is nothing to be ashamed off. I have no family, no siblings. People should not mind coming here,” he said.

The lunch is “simply a meal between friends”, he added.

Read: Lunch for the lonely still going strong, 30 years on

The meal is prepared by Mġarr restaurateurs, and the food is donated by families in the community, Ms Bugeja said.

The initiative echoes the Christmas lunch organised by the Archbishop’s Curia and Caritas.

More than 400 people attended the lunch this year.

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