April 1 was the 90th anniversary of the official opening of the first Don Bosco oratory in Gozo, and the day when Don Bosco, the founder of the Salesian congregation, was proclaimed saint by the Catholic Church in 1934.

The founder of the Don Bosco Oratory in Gozo was Fr Paul Micallef of Victoria, who, however, was not present for the official opening of the oratory since he went to Rome for the canonisation ceremony of Don Bosco, patron saint of children and youths. So instead, he left everything in the hands of Fr Joseph Spiteri, of Naxxar, who was helping Fr Paul realise his dream in favour of Gozitan children and youths.

The oratory was opened in a small house in Charity Street in the centre of Victoria, adjacent to the sacresty of St George’s parish. It was the humble beginning of a very big project, now in a much larger building at St Augustine’s square.

To commemorate this anniversary and the anniversary of the canonisation of Don Bosco, various activities are being held in Victoria. A photographic exhibition of antique photos is being held in the oratory’s foyer.

Some of the photos are being displayed for the first time after they were discovered in a private collection. The exhibition is open until April 15.

A prayer vigil was held on the day at the chapel of the Salesian sisters in Republic Street, followed by a visit to the grave of the oratory’s founder, Fr Micallef, at the Gozo cathedral.

On Sunday, April 7, a thanksgiving Mass, to be led by Mgr Carmelo Mercieca, who worked tirelessly at the oratory during his early priesthood years, will be held at the Don Bosco Oratory chapel at 10.30am. Mgr Mercieca is celebrating his 60th year as a priest.

On Thursday, April 11, the oratory will be the venue of a classical lunchtime music festival.

The concert, Eastern Hues, will start at 11.30am and will include numbers from the rock opera Ġwanninu on the life of St John Bosco.

The anniversaries’ programme will come to an end with the production of the classical Maltese comedy It-Tieġ ta’ Karmena Abdilla, by Charles Clews, at the Don Bosco oratory theatre on Saturday, April 13, at 7.30pm.

The production will be staged by the Don Bosco Oratory Dramatic Company.

Early booking is recommended.

An exhibition of antique photos has been set up in the oratory's foyer.An exhibition of antique photos has been set up in the oratory's foyer.

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