Bishop Mario Grech promoted a female presence in the lives of the clergy – that of Our Lady. In what may be termed as a strong message with a light touch, the Bishop of Gozo said that where there is a clergy which has made strides in holy life, the presence of Our Lady is sure to be found.
Bishop Grech recalled how the former Archbishop Mercieca kept, close to his bedside, an image of a Gozitan Madonna, not out of sentimentality but out of faith. The words of the Gospel of St John ‘ This is your mother’ should be the leit motif for this Lenten period suggested Bishop Grech. Our Lady, he said, is not only that woman who introduces the feminine angle to the priest’s pastoral side. She is also the one who leads us to Christ and helps us renew our ties to Him.
In renewing the ties to Jesus through the Virgin Mary, said Bishop Grech, priests must adopt a missionary attitude among their flock. He encouraged the priests in his care to get to know their parishioners well and to be able to home in on their needs. Home visits should not be the sole domain of the parish priest, said Bishop Grech. The word of God, he said, is spread just as well through home visits as it is through other means.
Bishop Grech noted that the priest is entrusted with a very serious obligation to form consciences and to counsel those in need. This obligation, carried out in the utmost discretion, is often much more effective that a dozen homilies publicly delivered. He said that priests who do not attend to their personal formation of moral development, will have a great lacuna in their formation which could have serious consequences.