The 32nd anniversary of Mgr Mikiel Azzopardi’s death was commemorated with a Eucharistic celebration at the chapel of Id-Dar tal-Providenza. In attendance were members of the Malta Catholic Action, residents and friends of the Home. Dun Mikiel, as more popularly referred to, was born in Valletta on February 10th, 1910. He founded the Siġġiewi Home in September 1965 and died on May 13th, 1987.
Fr Martin Micallef, Director of Id-Dar tal-Providenza, led the celebration assisted by Fr Reuben Gauci, Ecclesiastical Assistant of ZAK (Catholic Action Youths), In his homily, Fr Martin described Dun Mikiel Azzopardi as a good shepherd who still inspires Maltese society with his vision and works so that persons with disability are accorded respect, dignity and rights which they did not have in his time. He also helped to correct the way Maltese society looked at persons with a disability then. Persons with disability are not second-class citizens but persons with equal rights.
At the moment, Id-Dar tal-Providenza hosts approximately 115 persons between the ages of 14 and over 80 years. It is made up of three residences: Villa Monsinjur Gonzi, Villa Papa Giovanni and Villa Papa Luciani and includes community homes in Siġġiewi, Qawra, Birkirkara, Żurrieq and, later this year, in Balluta.
Fr Martin also referred to the vision of Jean Vanier who died last week on May 7th at the age of 90. Vanier, who had paid a visit to Dar tal-Providenza in September of 1985, like Dun Mikiel has founded the communities known as L’Arche where persons with intellectual disabilities live together with their helpers in small homes in the community. Today, L’Arche is spread in 37 different countries around the world. Jean Vanier used to say that living with persons with disability helps you appreciate the beauty in their heart and the unique value of every person. Jesus never rejected anyone and showed us that he wants to include everyone so much so that he became one like us. Vanier stresses that the world exalts those capable of going up the rungs of success, ambition, competition, material wealth and power. Despite laws and conventions safeguarding the rights of persons with disability there are still those that regard these persons as a “problem” and so we promote the abortion of persons with disability when still in the womb and we discriminate against persons with disability.
At the end of the celebration, Mr Josef DeBono, President of the Malta Catholic Action made a short address during which he criticised the hate speech against persons with disability that we have been bombarded with lately in our own country. He urged that, like Dun Mikiel, we promote the culture of life that respects every person from conception. Those present also found time to gather and pray around Dun Mikiel’s grave.