St Gaetan's Society Inc.
Postal address: 29 Park Drive, East Keilor, Victoria 3033.
Date founded: 1978
Association Objectives. The purposes for which the Society was formed are as follows:
- To maintain the traditional celebrations of the feast of St Gaetan, and
- To organise social activities for its members.
The Society was established in 1978 mainly through the initiative of four people, who were also responsible for managing it during its earliers, namely, Carmen Micallef, George Aquilina, Joe Deguara and Anthony Hili. Presidents of this association have included George Aquilina, Peter Falzon, Peter Cardona, Joe Fenech and Gejtu (Guy) Deguara.
The Society has a strong association with the MCCV, with their former President, Gejtu Deguara holding the position of Vice President on the MCCV Executive Committee for several years. The Society often use the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville to hold their activities. For some time, the St Gaetan Choir practised at the Centre on Wednesdays.
The first meeting of the association was held at the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville on 28 May 1978. The founding members were George Aquilina (band master), the late Anthony Hili, the late Paul Deguara and his wife Carmen (now Micallef) who felt the need to start organising functions to celebrate the feast of St Gaetan around 7th of August each year.
Mr Victor Borg opened the first meeting which was also attended by the Consul General for Malta in Victoria, Mr Frank Consiglio who wished the association all the best for the future.
The first committee consisted of Mr George Aquilina – President, Mrs Grace Formosa – Vice President, Mr Paul Deguara – Secretary, Mrs Carmen Deguara – Assistant Secretary, Mr Mike Adami – Treasurer, Mr Maurice Formosa – Assistant Treasurer, and Mr Anthony Hili – Public Relations Officer. The Patron of the Society is the Parish Priest of Hamrun, Malta, being at the time Fr Matthew Kirkop.
The first Get Together was held at Albert Hall in Essendon and the Society was able to generate a profit of $217 from the event.
Feast of St Gaetan
The feast of St Gaetan is held at the same time as the corresponding feast is celebrated in Hamrun, Malta, that is the first Sunday after 7th August. Festivities start on the Friday night with a High Mass and a Brass Band Concert in the hall, free of charge. A Feast Gala Ball is held on Saturday night at which over 600 members and guests attend from all over Australia.
The religious festivities on Sunday consist of a High Mass followed by procession with the statue of St Gaetan around the church grounds. A new statue of the Patron Saint, St Gaetan, was inaugurated in the early 1990s. Two Maltese brass bands take part in the procession and then also give a concert in the hall. The concert is followed by entertainment provided by a top DJ playing mostly Maltese songs. Maltese food, such as, pastizzi, timpana, ħobż biż-żejt, Kinnie, is sold. No entrance fee is charged for the Sunday festivities.
The Society initially organised the feast celebrations at St Mary’s Church in Ascot Vale, and ten years later these were moved to St Ambrose Church in Sydney Road, Brunswick. In later years the celebrations were held at St Theresa Church in Essendon, St Bernadette Church in North Sunshine and St Martin de Porres Church in Avondale Heights.
In its 33-year life the Society has had six Presidents: George Aquilina (who served twice), Peter Falzon, Eddie Zammit Cordina (who returned to live in Malta), Peter Cardona, Joe Fenech (who passed away after 18 months as President) and the current President Gejtu Deguara.
Like all ethnic assocations, St Gaetan’s Society is finding it hard to find people to fill positions on its committee. Ageing of the members is one contributing factor and the lack of new Maltese migrants settling in Australia is another. Moreover, there is a lack of interest in Maltese culture shown by the younger generations of Maltese descent.
The Current President is Jimmy Chircop
The Committee meets every second Tuesday of the month at St Martin de Porres in Avondale Heights. A general meeting is held every four months. The Society organises Pokie trips to the Victoria-NSW border six times a year, a trip over the bay in February, a trip to Phillip Island in March, two free BBQs for members and a Christmas Get Together in December.
Anyone wishing to join the Society as a member or to serve on the Committee may ring the Secretary, Jonathan Hili on 9331 1430 or [email protected] .
An annual membership fee of $5 is payable, which is reduced to $2 for pensioners.