Sunday, September 8, 2013

My childhood priests

Dun Karm Calleja at his 60 th anniversary Mass, 2 weeks ago

We all remember our childhood days and reminisce about stories that made our younger years so vibrant and alive. My own childhood focused around the parish church, and I remember serving Masses for many of the priests, who unfortunately are leaving us one after the other. Among them is Fr Carmelo Calleja, known by everyone as Dun Karm, also a Canon of the parish church of Birkirkara. But he spent his entire 60 years serving in St. Julian’s parish. Incidentally only two weeks ago he celebrated his 60th anniversary as a priest with a Mass during the run-up of the festa dedicated to St Julian’s. He was in fact in fairly good shape, but apparently his health deteriorated suddenly and died early this week.

Dum Karm as a Canon of the Birkirkara parish
Dun Karm wore many hats, as a teacher, both in public schools as well as catechism classes. He led a children’s choir for a while, was the chaplain of women’s groups of the Catholic Action, as well as the Spinola Band Club. He was very faithful till the end saying daily Mass in the parish and helping anyone who needed an ear to listen to them. And so most of my childhood priests are gone, including Dun Anton Xiberras, Dun Fortunato Axiaq, Dun Philip Demarco, Dun Frangisk Zammit, Dun Edwin Sammut and now Dun Karm Calleja. From my childhood years in the early 60s, still Dun Guido Calleja and Dun Gwann Galea still survive, both of whom were pastors of the parish, respectively from 1956 till 1966 and from 1966 till 1981.

The above photo was taken in 1967 at an engagement party of my uncle Marcel and his fiancee Julie Saliba. Left to right are Dun Karm Calleja, Dun Fortunato Axiaq, Marcel and Julie, Dun Gwann Galea and Dun Anton Xiberras. May Dun Karm and all the other priests rest in peace.

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