Watch: ‘Creating a unique sense of family’ – the Salesians in Malta

Today marks a special day in the Salesians’ calendar as the community marks the day dedicated to the Saint and the Order’s founder, St John Bosco. reached out to Fr Eric Cachia SDB from the Salesians of Don Bosco and asked him about the Salesians’ work in Malta, as well as the activities organised by the community to mark the day.

The Salesians are known for being very active within the community and follow in the footsteps of their founder, the Italian priest John Don Bosco who is remembered as a man who dedicated his life to the service of abandoned children and youth, establishing oratories and houses, and creating a family – the Salesians.

Fr Cachia briefly outlined the history of the Salesians in Malta saying it was only shortly after Don Bosco’s death, that the Salesians came here in 1903 where they opened St Patrick’s in Sliema. Four years later the Domus Juventutis, the present Salesians theatre, opened its doors and served as a university where students would gather and reflect. Fr Cachia said that an oratory and a youth centre for boys were set up; the latter opened up to accept girls in the 80s. By establishing themselves in Malta, and opening up centres, oratories, homes and schools, the Salesians created a sense of family, Fr Eric explained.

The Salesians also opened Savio College in Dingli, followed by another oratory in the same locality.

In Senglea, the Salesians were entrusted with San Filippu Senglea ten years ago, which they took over from the Jesuits. Fr Eric told this newsroom that the Senglea community is also in charge of MCAST chaplaincy and has a flourishing oratory.

Two other care homes in Sliema, Osanna Pia House and Dar Mamma Margarita were later opened, with the latter being the most recent.

‘Creating a unique sense of family’ 

Fr Eric, who is also the Rector of St Patrick’s school, explained how a unique sense of family was created. Contrary to popular belief, the school is open to pupils coming from various walks of life; some may have started out on a difficult path, however the caring staff at the school and the experience which St Patrick’s offers have helped everyone in the community, with Fr Eric saying that their holistic approach was being understood by many parents.

For the occasion of the feast, the day kicked off with mass and was followed by a fun day for the students. Some of the teachers were however busy making ravioli for the ‘ravjulata’ which was then served, as they shared lunch as one community.

Later on in the day, those in residential care will first have a session during which they reflect, while others will go on an outing. Furthermore, each house, which is made up of five to six children will enjoy dining out.

In total there are currently 27 children, most of which are children receiving out of home care, with their ages ranging from 8 to 19-years-old.

Quoting Don Bosco, Fr Eric said, “If you want to see the real character of a boy, make him play his favourite sport!” as he stressed the importance that the activities such as these helped to foster a unique sense of family.

St John Bosco

The feast of Don Bosco, known as known as the father and teacher of the young, is celebrated on 31 January. Don Bosco was an Italian priest, educator and writer who lived in the 19th century and is remembered as a man who dedicated his life to the service of abandoned children and youth, establishing oratories and houses, and creating a family, the Salesians.

While in Turin, Don Bosco recognised the difficulties faced by the youth and their need to be loved and respected; subsequently he created an educational approach based on valuing and nurturing the young that would enable them to feel loved and to thrive. Don Bosco also taught St Dominic Savio. Dedicating his work to Francis de Sales, Don Bosco later founded the Salesians of Don Bosco.

Photos provided by Fr Eric Cachia SDB.