A 65-year-old Maltese teacher and father of three – and deacon – has opened up about what led him to choose to enter the priesthood at such a late stage and follow his vocation.
“I’m a sixty-five year old widower and I have three children,” Tony, who is known in the Safi community, said in a touching interview with the Facebook page The People of Malta.
“I’m studying to become a priest. I believe that both biological and spiritual paternity are meant to serve others. I also strongly believe that every father should teach and promote good values to his children.”
Tony has always had an interest in supporting others – that’s why he became a teacher
“I’ve done a number of jobs in my lifetime,” he said. “I was a time study engineer, a postman… at 24 years of age, I started studying at University and then graduated as a teacher. Eventually, I became an education officer in the primary sector. During my time in the education department, I worked hard and enthusiastically to help others.”
But it was when he lost his wife that he began to truly consider becoming a man of the cloth
“My wife, Joan, passed away five years ago,” he opened up. “Since then, I’ve felt a stronger need to help others and I started a process of self-discovery and meditation. I’ve worked with several communities, especially the MUSEUM. I was an active member in this organization until I was 24. Joan and I were both very active in the Safi community. Together with Fr.Michael Agius, we started the choir Sine Macula.”
Surprisingly, his three children were practically expecting to see their dad become a father
“When I told my children that I wished to start studying to become a priest, they weren’t shocked. They saw it as the next step in my vocation and mission to help others. I believe that we must all help one another. Fatherhood, motherhood, priesthood – these are all a vocation, a call to help and be of service. A priest is the spiritual father of a community,” he said.
And Tony will never forget the strength and support of his late wife
“Joan was a very spiritual person. Before she left this world, she called our children and gave them her final blessings. She told me to get married again. To be honest, I was confused by her words. Jokingly, I told her that I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice,” he said.
Indeed, he had told her his plans to enter the Curia instead of remarrying after her death
“I also told her that I wished to become a priest. After my son, David, started his training with the Missionary Society of St Paul, and after my time meditating and reflecting upon myself, I asked to the Archbishop to grant me his permission to start my journey to priesthood,” he said.
Currently a deacon, Tony now looks forward to next year, when he hopes to become a fully fledged priest.
“In May, I was ordained as a deacon,” he said. “Next year, I’ll receive the rite of ordination to priesthood, God willing.”