The MCCV honoured six prominent members of the Maltese community in Victoria with the inaugural MCCV Community Awards at a reception held last Saturday evening at the Maltese Centre in Parkville. The program also included welcoming the newly elected Superior General of the Missionary Society of St Paul, Fr Mark Grima mssp, and presenting the first Bishop Joseph Grech Memorial Scholarship Award.
Numerous members of the Maltese community gathered in the main hall of the Centre. Among the guests present for the evening where some members of the family of the late Bishop Joe Grech and of the late Dr Joe Abela, including his nephew Mr Daniel Abela who accepted the Award Certificate on behalf of his widow, Mrs Carol Abela, and his family.
Welcoming the new MSSP Superior General
Following the introductions by MCCV Secretary Mrs Edwina Mallia, MCCV President Prof. Maurice Cauchi welcomed Fr Grima. Prof. Cauchi said that Fr Grima was born in Tarxien, Malta, and was an Old Boy of St. Paul’s Missionary College and holds degrees from the University of Malta, All Hallows, Dublin, and the Gregorian University in Rome. Fr Grima has worked mostly in the field of formation in religious life, and for the past five years was responsible for setting up the International House of Formation which the Missionary Society of St. Paul has in Manila, the Philippines. Fr Grima was awarded the degree of Master of Arts in Pastoral Leadership in 1998 by the All Hallows Missionary College in Ireland.
In his brief address, Fr Mark said that it was always a joy for him to be visiting Melbourne and meeting the Maltese community. This is the fourth visit but his first one as the Superior General. He said he was awestruck not just with the attendance but also with the love for the Maltese community and for our heritage.
Fr Grima said that he wanted to share the desire of the MSSP to continue to work together with the Maltese community because the MSSP is sure that it can contribute not only towards each other but more significantly towards other cultures. “Living in the multicultural society of Australia this reality is very much in your heart and minds and you can touch it every day,” said Fr Grima. “As members of the MSSP working with the Maltese community, we are able to give to the world by becoming a gift for others.”
“Today we are celebrating the MCCV community awards. An award is something that we give to somebody else. This is our charism that we would like to share with you as members of the MSSP – how good it is to live this value of becoming a gift for each other, to go outside our personal small comfort zone and reach out for others, something that the world so much needs,” said Fr Grima. If we, as Maltese, and you as Maltese living here in Australia, are able to do that among each other, first and foremost to help the needy among the Maltese living here, but then to extend this reality outside our comfort zones and our reality, then we would be passing something to the next generations and to other cultures, which we Maltese should be proud of, because we have always been generous in heart.
Fr Grima ended his address with a reference to the work that the President of Malta, H.E. Dr George Abela, and his teams of volunteers recently carried out at the MSSP mission in Peru. Fr Grima said that this was something that the President kept reminding the Maltese about – we have to pass on this generosity, something which belongs to us Maltese and is a feature of being Maltese.
The next item on the evening’s program was the presentation of the Bishop Joseph Grech Memorial Scholarship followed by the MCCV Community Awards. Dr Edwin Borg-Manché read out the citations for each of the awardees’ in each category.
2012 MCCV Community Awards
Earlier this year the MCCV established its Community Awards to recognise the valuable contribution of Maltese people to the enrichment of Maltese Community, whether by scholarship, welfare services, artistic contribution and contribution to the well being of members of the Maltese community on a day-to-day basis.
The six awardees of the 2012 MCCV Community Awards were:
- Dr Joe Abela – for his contribution to Scholarship and Education
- Mr Manuel Casha – for his contribution to Culture
- Mr Frank Calleja – for his contribution to Welfare Services
- Mr George Cini (in absentia) – for his contribution to Welfare Services
- Mr Joseph Montebello – for his involvement in general within the community
- Mr Benny Soler – for his services to the community through his work within the MCCV.
Citations for each of the awardees are reproduced below.
Presenting the award to the nephew of the late Dr Abela, Mr Daniel Abela, MCCV Vice President Mr Victor Borg said that there is hardly anybody in the Maltese community in Australia who has not heard of Dr Abela. A lot of what the Maltese community has been able to achieve was the result of his hard work in the community and his leadership. It is fitting that the Maltese community expresses its gratitude to the late Dr Abela and his family through this award. MCCV President Prof. Maurice Cauchi presented the awards to the other awardees, except Mr George Cini who was unable to attend.
Following the reading of the presentation of the award to the late Dr Joe Abela, Mrs Edwina Mallia read out the following message of appreciation received from Dr Abela’s widow, Mrs Carol Abela:
I am very sorry I have not been able to attend this function, but through this message I would like to thank Professor Maurice Cauchi and the Maltese Community Council for acknowledging the contribution to the community of my husband Dr Joe Abela. Joe valued education and saw it as a pathway to people reaching their full potential. He saw it as particularly important to the Maltese community as this would lead to Maltese people advancing in life and representing their community at various levels of society. Many of you parents here tonight will recall Joe encouraging you to ensure your children had a good education. Joe valued education for himself too and was a gifted academic receiving the highest possible award for his doctoral thesis (magnum cum laude).
The underlying themes in my husband’s life were his love of Maltese language and culture and his belief that whatever he was and whatever he achieved, was because of the Maltese community he came from. This lead to Joe having a commitment to and strong belief that he had an obligation to give back to his beloved Maltese community and he tried to do this throughout his life.
Joe was never self interested or elitist, he was a humble man, but he believed it was very important for the Maltese community to retain its language and that if language was lost then culture would also be lost. This belief lead Joe to assi
sting in the establishment of Maltese classes at the Maltese Community Centre, Maltese at University level, the establishment of Maltese radio on 3ZZ and 3EA and the Maltese Literature group. Joe was appointed to many government bodies, including those guiding the establishment of SBS, on these bodies, he vigourously represented the interests of Maltese people. He saw his activities in these areas as a way of encouraging and supporting the importance of continuing the Maltese language and culture. Joe was always supported by many Maltese friends and colleagues in all his endeavours and he greatly valued the contributions of others to this worthwhile work. I recall when he started the Maltese Literature group there was many supporters, some of whom were established Maltese authors, but what pleased Joe greatly about the group was that it encouraged and embraced all Maltese people, many who had never written a poetic word before. Everyone’s contribution was valued. Joe and others patiently mentored many in their creative pursuit.
Joe would be very happy and proud to receive this award, he would want to thank all those friends who walked with him on many parts of his journey. If he was here he would want to encourage all of you, particularly not to forget your beloved Maltese language and culture and not to forget to encourage your children in this direction and in the pursuit of a good education.
I thank the Maltese Community Council most sincerely for this acknowledgement of my husband Dr Joe Abela.
2012 Bishop Joseph Grech Memorial Scholarship Award
The MCCV established the Bishop Joseph Grech Memorial Fund early last year to offer an annual scholarship to younger generations of Maltese-Australians from Victoria to take a more active interest in the Maltese history, culture and language by experiencing them first hand during a visit to Malta.
Bishop Grech was extremely passionate about working with youth and had a wonderful rapport with young people. He worked with young people to help them build their self-esteem and to realise their full potential. He had an enthusiastic manner and unique and charismatic style of preaching.
Bishop Grech came from a humble Maltese background and went on to become a Bishop here in Australia. He was very proud of his Maltese culture and kept in touch with many Maltese people across Australia. He was known throughout his life for his exceptional personal qualities, which included leadership, achievement and above an enduring love for Malta. His important legacy is commemorated and celebrated through the Bishop Joseph Grech Memorial Scholarship.
The inaugural scholarship was awarded to the successful candidate, Ms Rita Catania. Born in Australia of Maltese parents, Rita has been involved in the Maltese community for a long time, most recently as a co-founding member of the MCCV Youth Committee. She has been involved with the Maltese language classes, where she made several presentations. The full citations is reproduced below.
Before the closure of the evening’s formalities, Prof. Cauchi presented a gift from the MCCV Executive to Fr Mark Grima.
Following the presentations, refreshments kindly prepared by the MCCV Ladies Auxiliaries were served. Thanks to Mr Alfred Asciak decorated the hall for the occasion.
2012 MCCV COMMUNITY AWARDS
DR JOE ABELA – MCCV Community Award for his contribution to Scholarship and Education
Dr Joe Abela was one of the most respected persons within the Maltese Community. Joe Abela arrived in Australia in 1952 and immediately set up a branch of the Society of Christian Doctrine (MUSEUM), which he continued to lead for about 17 years until he decided to train for the priesthood. He then continued his studies in philosophy at the University of Louvain in Belgium.
On his return, he was very much involved in tertiary education, first as research fellow at Monash University and later at the Phillip Institute. During this period he introduced Maltese language teaching as a tertiary subject for the B.A degree.
Dr Abela also introduced Maltese as a language in the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI), thus ensuring a high standard for interpreters and translators of our language in Australia.
Dr Abela was also a member of the Australian Institute for Multicultural Affairs. In every way he was very active in promoting the Maltese language in Australia. One example of this was his founding of the Maltese Literature Group which he set up in 1982 to encourage Maltese in Australia to write prose and poetry in Maltese. This association is still active today
Dr Abela was a pioneer in broadcasting in Maltese in Victoria. He started broadcasting in Maltese in 1975 on Radio 3ZZ, and later on, on Radio 3EA (now SBS Radio).
Dr Abela was also an academic and an educationalist, having published several monographs on philosophical issues as well as on Maltese literature. His poems may be found in several books and anthologies. His philosophical studies were published in a monograph titled The Concept of the Infinite in the life and works of Giordano Bruno.
In 1988 Joe Abela was honoured with a citation given by the Government of Malta for his efforts to promote the Maltese language and culture in Australia.
With his untimely death 21 years ago on 15 March 1991, the Maltese in Australia lost a stalwart member of the community and one who always promoted Maltese language and culture at every opportunity.
MANUEL CASHA – MCCV Community Award for his contribution to Culture
Manuel Casha is a musician, producer, radio-journalist, folk music researcher, and guitar teacher. He is well known within the Maltese community in Australia for his sterling work in highlighting and maintaining the Maltese form of folk music (known in Maltese as għana) raising it to a higher level than it had ever reached, in Australia or in Malta.
Born in Vittoriosa in 1944, Manuel has worked with various musical groups and has issued a number of personal albums (CDs) of songs. He has been involved in numerous broadcasts in Maltese on the various community radio stations in Melbourne, where he has, in particular, presented Ir-Rokna ta’ l-Għana.
Manuel’s poetry has been included in a number of anthologies. He has also written a number of popular works for the Maltese theatre in Australia (e.g. Il-Ħanut ta’ Dwinu). He has written music or lyrics for other productions (e.g. Iz-Ziggi Jibdel Fehemtu)
Manuel is involved in research on traditional Maltese music. He has on several occasions helped the MCCV by
entertaining our guests at fund-raising functions.
FRANK CALLEJA – MCCV Community Award for his contribution to Welfare services
Frank Calleja has contributed significantly to the Maltese community in general and to the MCCV in particular.
From the very beginning he provided a great deal of assistance to many single men who came out from Malta, including providing them with a dinner on Saturday evenings and helping to obtain employment for them, often acting as interpreter, and in general ensuring that they settled successfully.
As a delegate to the Maltese Community Council of Victoria, Frank made a considerable contribution towards providing social and welfare services for the Maltese and their friends in the State of Victoria. He used to spend quite some time on the telephone at the Maltese Centre answering queries from the community.
For some years he was a member of the executive of the MCCV in charge of its welfare programme. For several years he was President of La Vallette Association, then a very active organization.
Frank participated in the MCCV annual fête which provided funding for welfare services and raised funds for the building of the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville. He also assisted in organising an overseas trip which raised considerable funds for the same purpose.
As part of his association’s activities, Frank organised a Pensioners and Retiree group which meets regularly each week at premises he was able to obtain from the local council. Frank organised regular activities for the group and kept an eye on aged members who may require assistance from time to time.
Frank was also an active member of the George Cross Soccer Club Committee.
Frank, now 95-years old, and his late wife Daisy have been excellent role models for young community members.
GEORGE CINI – MCCV Community Award for his services to Welfare
George arrived in Melbourne in 1954 and was soon involved with Maltese community. He started the Malta Star of the Sea Drama League in West Melbourne and was involved in producing several plays in Maltese, arguably one of the earliest and most successful associations in the field of performing arts. He has also taken part in television series.
George has been significantly involved in providing social services for the community particularly in St Albans. He was the prime mover in building the Malta Star of the Sea House (1978). He is also founder of the Maltese Pensioners Association of St Albans (1983)
George has always been ready to help the MCCV, and has donated generously to various MCCV projects.
JOSEPH MONTEBELLO – MCCV Community Award for his involvement in general within the community
Joe Montebello is the reporter and cameraman for ‘Waltzing Matilda’, the Maltese TV programme about the life of Maltese living in Australia televised in Malta and Australia and produced and presented by Josephine Zammit Cordina. Joe has been the lynchpin providing material for this programme since its inception over 18 years ago.
The Maltese community knows and appreciates the work that Joe carries out, travelling and offering his time to film most of the events in Victoria so that the Maltese in Malta can watch them on the ‘Waltzing Matilda’ program, thereby getting a good idea of how the Maltese Community in Victoria still treasures our heritage and our traditions.
Joseph works hard in providing this information and, even though he is getting on in years, he still finds the time and energy to do so.
It is appropriate that Joe be recognized for his ongoing work for the benefit of the Maltese community in Victoria.
BENNY SOLER – MCCV Community Award for his services to the community through his work within the MCCV
Benny Soler’s involvement with the MCCV started in 1970, when he was elected to the Public Relations Officer position on the Executive Committee. Later on, he was elected Honorary Secretary, a position he held for 18 years, making him the longest serving Secretary of the MCCV.
Benny has been deeply involved in fund raising for the building of the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville which at the time was the top priority project of the MCCV. He worked tirelessly as co-ordinator of the committee for the ‘Miss Maltese Community of Victoria Quest’, which, over the 15 years of its existence, raised in excess of $400,000 for the Maltese Community Centre Building Project
Over a number of years, Benny and his wife Helen, also helped to raise funds for the construction of the Centre by organizing a “Bric-a-Brac” stall in the “Annual Fête” organized by the MCCV. He also had the job of organizing annual raffles with big prizes to raise money.
2012 BISHOP JOSEPH GRECH MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
RITA CATANIA – Bishop Joseph Grech Memorial Scholarship Award
Rita has been involved in Maltese affairs for a long time. She is a very active member of the MCCV Youth Committee, recently named AusMalts. Their latest activity has been the setting up of a Facebook page and the design of an attractive logo.
Rita has also been in involved with Maltese language classes, where she made several presentations in Maltese. She has been on interviews conducted in Maltese on the Maltese programme of SBS Radio. Through the Youth Committee, Rita wi
ll be involved in the running of the MCCV Children’s Christmas party this year.
Born in Australia of Maltese parents, Rita studied Travel and Tourism Management and started her career in hospitality and travel. During the past 11 years she has been working in the sports entertainment industry. Rita is currently the Marketing Communications Manager for Country Racing Victoria.
Rita has kept her contact with Malta, which she has visited four times. This has helped her to keep up her interest in Maltese language and culture. In her view, “visiting Malta over a period of years was one of the best things that happened to me as a child, and then later as an adult.” She continues to keep an interest in current affairs, through watching Maltese news on SBS TV and listening to Maltese radio programs on 3ZZZ, SBS radio and 97.9fm. She also likes to read The Maltese Herald to enhance her knowledge both reading and speaking Maltese.
Rita has participated in events and functions organised by the Maltese community Council and affiliated associations.
On her visit to Malta as part of the scholarship, Rita will take every opportunity to familiarise herself with all aspects of Maltese culture. She will make sure that she shares her experiences with colleagues and other members of the youth group, particularly by posting regular contributions to Facebook. On her return, she hopes to be able to infuse other young persons with her enthusiasm for Maltese culture.