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The work of Caritas in Malta started before 1968

In your report ‘Caritas celebrates 50 years’, (The Sunday Times of Malta, November 11), Mgr Victor Grech is referred to as the founder of Caritas, which according to its own website www.caritasmalta.org was founded on November 11, 1968.

The work of Caritas in Malta started before 1968. A number of volunteers within the Social Action Movement (MAS), myself included, had helped organise nationwide campaigns for charity and other deserving causes in the years 1965/66, among which was a collection of medicines from local chemists to be sent to victims of natural disasters and war. Mgr Fortunato Mizzi chaired the meetings and inspired us. All the work we did carried the Caritas label. 

In no way do I want to diminish Mgr Grech’s sterling contribution to Caritas over many years, but he was appointed as Archbishop Mercieca’s delegate to the Diocesan Secretariat for Social and Christian Action in 1977 when Mgr Mizzi resigned his directorship of the then-called Social Development Committee (of the above-mentioned committee) under the aegis of the MAS. The diocesan Caritas Committee built on the work that had already been done. I cannot comment on the transition period as I left the country in 1966 to study in the UK.

The local media, including the Times of Malta, carried regular reports about activities carried out by Mgr Mizzi’s MAS committee. One of these was the annual report of the Caritas Committee for the year 1968/69 and another dated May 21, 1971, which mentions the Caritas activities when Mgr Mizzi was director and Alfred J. Buhagiar, formerly MUT president, was secretary. It was also during his directorship that Caritas Malta became a member of the Caritas Council on July 1, 1974. Surely Mgr Mizzi should have been given an honourable mention during the various celebrations and reports? He never asked for applause during his lifetime but we still owe him a lot for the beginning of Caritas’ work  in Malta and to his selfless giving.

However, I must point out that in a programme on RTK a few days ago, Auxiliary Bishop Mgr Joseph Galea Curmi referred to Mgr Mizzi as the founder of Caritas in Malta. There is a need for more research so that the full story of Caritas Malta can be written in its entirety.

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