On the eve of Dun Anton Teuma’s episcopal consecration Newsbook.com.mt interviewed his family and friends, the people who have always referred to him as ‘Twannie tagħna’. From the interviews emerged the picture of a man: humble, intelligent, inspirational, a man who manages to empower people.
Joe Teuma – Dun Anton’s brother
Joe Teuma, the brother of the Bishop-elect Anton Teuma, as he was being interviewed by Fr Joe Borg and Sylvana Debono, said that now that his brother will be the 9th Bishop of Gozo he is sure that his brother will remain the same person he has always been, a down to earth person who was always ready to serve God. Dun Anton’s brother also reminded his brother not to forget his roots.
“As the rest of my family I am feeling excited that my brother will be the Bishop of Gozo although we worry about him and about all the tasks he will have to accomplish in this new role but we are sure he will do his utmost. Also, we never thought that he would become a Bishop,” said Dun Anton’s brother.
Joe Teuma said that as the oldest brother Twannie always took care of them but since he entered the seminary to become a priest at the age of 18 their youngest sisters do not really remember him much but said they were always close as brothers and sisters.
Joe said that his brother has always loved sports and he recalled the many times they played football together. “I wasn’t a big fan of sports and still am but by brother Twannie was always passionate about sports especially Italian football and the Juventus football club.”
When asked if he felt a feeling of separation from his brother when Twannie decided to pursue his vocation as a priest, Joe said yes. “We were two boys in our family and we used to sleep in the same room. I remember how he used to come and help our father in the field too as he was always hands on and helped around. It was not just about his studies. So, yes I felt his missing presence when he left,” said Joe.
Abraham Said and Carmen Grima – Cousins of Dun Anton Teuma
Both Abraham and Carmen described their cousin as humble although they both have different experiences of Dun Anton.
Carmen Grima, 72, said that she had always been close with Dun Anton’s mother and I had always told her that one day he will reach the peak of his formation.
His other cousin recalled how they grew up together and the happy times when together with Dun Anton he was an altar boy at the Jesus of Nazareth Church in Xaghra.
“Dun Anton is not only a teacher but a tutor who is capable to delivering his message to you in the simplest form of ways. I had studied Philosophy with Dun Anton for my A levels during his time at the seminary and he then used to give me private lessons on the subject. The day I received the results was one of the happy moments with Dun Anton, I recall till this day,” said Abraham.
Said continued saying that when he knew that his cousin would become the Bishop of Gozo he felt an immense feeling of happiness especially since he admitted that Twannie was his favourite cousin. “I was surprised not because he does not deserve this but because he is such a humble and a down to earth person that he always wanted to stay away from the spotlight.”
During the interview Abraham Said mentioned how along the years through his work Dun Anton touch the lives of many families. He also mentioned that he thinks that one of the biggest tasks awaiting his cousin as the Bishop of Gozo is to attract more youths towards the Church, towards God.
Ivana Farrugia – Diocesan Family Commission
‘We should empower people’ is the motto that Dun Anton has always emphasised on and I believe that he manages to empower people in his words and through his work, said Ivana Farrugia.
“Dun Anton is a person of a few words but listens to people and he always told us that he learns from us each and every day. He is an authentic and he is a convinced priest. His academic preparation is incredible and he has given his life for Gozitan families through his counselling. In this new role I wish Dun Anton his biggest wish, that of bringing people closer to God and for people to find God,” said Ivana.
Ivana Farrugia said that during these 12 years, herself together with her colleagues within the Diocesan Family Commission, they have experienced a very hard-working Dun Anton who is also capable of encouraging and stimulating others in their work. “When he received the nomination to become the Bishop of Gozo, Dun Anton was following a Masters Programme on Family Therapy and he had to stop to embark on his new mission. That is the kind of person Dun Anton is – he never stops learning.”
Regarding the episcopal ordination of Dun Anton Teuma and the work involved in organising the celebration, the Gozo Diocese is being very careful in observing the precautions against the coronavirus pandemic, said Ivana Farrugia.
Joe Spiteri – Childhood friend
He has known Dun Anton since they were children as they were neighbours. “Dun Anton is 5 years younger than I am so I was not at school with him but we used to spend a lot of time together. He has always been a leader, he used to organise events for his friends as he had always loved sports. He had always been close to God but he was never the typical religious person.”
Spiteri mentioned also how Dun Anton was the person who introduced the crib at the Jesus of Nazareth Church in Xaghra.
Joe Spiteri remembers the day his friend became ‘Dun Anton’ and recalls how his friend spent around 9 to 10 years in Italy and how at that time many priests from Xaghra were leaving and how the community was worried about this situation. He then mentioned the time when his friend was in charge of the Cana Movement. “I would rather say what he did not do then what he did do as in this role he did exceptional work,” said Joe Spiteri.
He described Dun Anton as intelligent, inspirational especially when he delivers his homilies and humble sometimes too humble, said Joe Spiteri who also said he always kept in-contact with Dun Anton even if just for a few words while they meet during their morning walk at ir-Ramla. “When we went to the Holy Land I had the time to speak with him for quite some time and I still recall his words. I was a great week spent with him,” said Joe.
“I am sure he will do a lot of good especially in his new role and he will continue doing so in quiet,” said Dun Anton’s long-time friend.
Michael Attard – ex-Superior M.U.S.E.U.M.
Michael Attard spoke about the spiritual development of Dun Anton who he remembers very well as ‘Twannie’. “What we are talking about dates back to when he was a child but I remember him coming every single day for catechism lessons. And he also used to bring a group of children with him for the lessons. His intention was always to learn.”
Michael Attard said that when he knew that Anton Teuma decided to become a priest at first it was a shock as for him meant that he would lose Teuma’s excellent work at the M.U.S.E.U.M. But he was obviously delighted with the news.
“During his time at the M.U.S.E.U.M. youths participated in many and this showed how his work was leaving a great impact and was bringing people closer to the word of God.” Michael Attard mentioned also how in his simplicity and in his love towards the people and families Dun Anton Teuma worked hard amongst couples and this left an immense positive effect on marriages in Gozo.