One takes pride when reading in the media of Maltese who migrated to other countries and who are said to have been “good ambassadors” by even the head of state of the country of adoption. I do not have in mind here members of the diplomatic corps.

As regards the latter, I am convinced that the present Ambassador for the US, Douglas W. Kmiec, qualifies for the accolade of having shown qualities that are well above those normally shown by a “good ambassador”. He certainly excelled in coming down to the level of the man in the street and also in extending a hand to those in need including refugees and their families a number of whom he was responsible for resettling in the US.

Along with so many others who frequent the Augustinian Church in Paceville dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel and the adjoining Millennium Chapel, I met Prof. Kmiec at close quarters on various occasions. He even joined us from time to time at the monthly meetings of the Friends of Augustine Group led by Hilary Tagliaferro OSA and participated in many an interesting discussion on the topic chosen for the evening.

Prof. Kmiec even found time to participate, with his traditional smile, in the hands-on duties of our small band of volunteers who every Saturday morning distribute food bags at the Millennium Chapel to needy families. His deep faith was evidenced in his article published in the print media when recovering in hospital from his traumatic car accident in California last summer a result of which two of his close lifelong friends (a monsignor and a nun) lost their lives. In the article the Ambassador said “I have always known the world to sometimes be a place of great horror and anguish. I now feel it personally”.

He could not have foreseen at that time that one year later he would be called upon to face up to the anguish of being prematurely taken away from his beloved Malta and the Maltese. It is hard to understand the motives of those in the US Office of Inspector General in making him a victim of his deep Catholic faith. Obviously, those concerned do not believe that it is by one’s example that one should be judged. Prof. Kmiec quickly adapted to the traditional Maltese way of life, especially the love for the family unit and our penchant for going out of our way to help our less fortunate brethren. Yet he has been criticised by his superiors in the US for the amount of time he has dedicated to promoting and living his faith. It does not follow from this that he neglected his duties as US Ambassador to Malta.

Prof. Kmiec’s sudden removal from office is Malta’s loss. Unfortunately the die is cast and one can only thank God for the three years that the Ambassador has shared with us. I have no doubt that if Prof. Kmiec intends to return to his previous university duties he will be a beacon to the American youngsters who will be privileged to be his students.

I salute him by saying “so long; it has been good to know you” and may God continue to protect you.

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