The children of St. Anthony’s in Gozo performed a song after communion.
(In three weeks of visitation in Malta, Fr. Jeff Scheeler has experienced the beauty of this Mediterranean archipelago and the warm hospitality of its friars, Bishops, Poor Clares, Secular Franciscans, youth groups and parishioners. Jeff has returned home to Southfield, Mich., and will resume his Visitator General duties for Malta’s Province of St. Paul the Apostle at its Chapter and Congressus in May.)
At the beginning of Chapter 28 of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul finds himself on the island of Malta after being shipwrecked. Luke writes that the Maltese welcomed him with “extraordinary hospitality.” The same has been true for me.
At every place I have visited, I have been received very graciously. I have been fed way too well. A favorite here are pastizzis, a pastry filled with either ricotta cheese or mashed peas. I have received small gifts of cookies, marmalade, olive oil, and a plaque of St. Anthony. I have been given tours of every friary and church. Friars have offered to do my laundry, but I did it myself! I have met members of the faith community, who show up in large numbers to share prepared talks about aspects of their community life. In one place the young people sang a special song for me after communion. In some places, the people kiss your hand.
Ramon Farrugia, the Secretary of the Province, has served as my secretary, host, and driver. He has made all the arrangements and driven me to every place, for which I am immensely grateful. He prepares all the books that need to be reviewed (financial records, Mass book, chronicle, Chapter minutes, etc.) and tells me what I am looking at – since it is often in the Maltese language! It has been a tremendous experience in ongoing formation