“Friendly and inspiring presence”

Fr Paul Chetcuti SJ shares his experience of Fr Lino Cardona SJ.

I first got to know Fr Lino Cardona as a Co-novice, at Loyola House, Naxxar. With him just one year ahead of me, we shared a good part of our Jesuit formation. He was always a single minded and simple person, capable of focusing on one task at time and carrying it out in a faithful, persevering, efficient manner, always with a jovial and light-hearted spirit.

His good family background coupled with his early formation as a MUSEUM member laid the foundations of both his character and vocation. His Jesuit studies started at Loyola House, Naxxar and then took him to the United States and Naples, before he was ordained priest in 1972.

For long years he taught Italian and Religion, amongst other subjects at St Aloysius College. But it is more appropriate to say that he taught students rather than subjects. His dedication and seemingly easy and laid-back manner won them over and he earned their friendship as well as their respect. Generations of students were marked by his friendly and inspiring presence. Their appreciation and gratitude are abundantly expressed in a multitude of posts on Facebook and other social media.

A stalwart of Dar tal-Providenza

Fr Lino got in touch with Dar tal-Providenza since its early times, not only helping out in the spiritual care of inmates and staff, but also filling in for Mons Azzopardi during his absences. In 2011, Dar tal-Providenza awarded him the Premju Dun Mikiel in recognition of his voluntary work at the home as well as his typical faithful service and pastoral presence for long years till the very end.

His physical health was always somewhat delicate, but never deterred him from offering demanding services for many long and spiritually fruitful years.  From teacher to community accountant, from confessor to spiritual director, from community house manager to rector of St Aloysius College Church and the Jesuit Sanctuary of our Lady of the Wayside, his services were wide-ranging and impeccably accomplished.

After a relatively short but difficult struggle, Covid proved to be his last sickness. On Thursday 29th the Lord summoned him home and embraced him with the greeting: “Well done good and faithful servant. Because you were faithful in little things I will put you over much greater ones. Enter into the joy of your Master.” (Mt 25:23)