Today the first day of Spring, Archbishop Giuseppi Mercieca changed homes. His current home is infinitely better that the one he lived in for close to ninety years. Today he is in the loving embrace of our Father in heaven.
This is a place well-earned thanks his untiring love of Him who chose him and thanks to the faithful and dedicated service to the people trusted in his care.
I was privileged to work with Archbishop Mercieca for many years. We had our disagreements and difficult moments but what united us was far greater and more beautiful.
I treasure the memory of the meeting I had with him in his office after his resignation was announced. We had a long father-son type of chat which we concluded with the kiss of peace.
I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity he gave me to build the Church’s media structures.
The last time we spoke was in September 2014. I had written a blog titled “An open letter to Archbishop Emeritus Mercieca” on the occasion of the commemoration the 40th anniversary of his episcopal ordination. He phoned to thank me for that commentary. His voice was weak but the kindness that characterised him was loud and clear in its timbre.
Archbishop Mercieca’s main characteristic was that he loved his people. He cared for those who loved him as well as for those who criticised him and maligned him. He harboured no bitterness for anyone. He preferred to serve others that to have others serve you.
He was more people centred than task centred. Once I introduced him to a Maltese journalists who was working with a foreign media organisation. The interview went quite well. During the interview the journalist made a passing remark to some family problem he had. I thought it went by unnoticed. However at the end of the interview he asked to speak to the journalist alone. The journalist told me later that the Archbishop had asked him whether he could be of any help to solve the problems hinted to. His action touched the journalist so much.
He lived at times of great difficulties between church and state. This was the cross that he had to carry during his episcopate; a cross he carried without grumbling. The chalice that came with it he drunk till the last drop. He was a silent warrior but also an ardent bridge builder. He never conceded a centimetre that he believed should not have been conceded but was ready to reach an agreement on everything about which an agreement could be reached.
Had he not been that prudent and wise during those troubled times the country could have easily crossed the fine line between a crisis and a civil war. Mercieca always stood firm on the right side of that tortuous line even at great personal expense.
He was not a man of many words but he always uttered the words that had to be uttered.
When the Curia was attacked he could have uttered so many hard words but he suffered in silence. When he came to the ransacked place in the evening his only words were: May the Lord have mercy on them.
He was not a man of many words but he always uttered the words that had to be uttered. His way of speaking continuously punctured by myriad metaphors was not always very direct (or totally clear) but it challenged one to engage more and thus continue the dialogue and the conversation.
I always admired his deep spirituality. This more than his wisdom was the basis of his strength.
Dearest Mgr Mercieca thank you for so many blessings the Lord rained on our Archdiocese through you. Now in His eternally loving embrace pray for us members of the Church in Malta to be, like you, His faithful servants.
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