It is with sadness that we announce the passing away of our dear Fr Anton Azzopardi SJ, on Saturday 11th April 2015.
Fr Anton will perhaps be best remembered for his years spent as Rector of St Aloysius' College, particularly during the tumultuous times when he was amongst those who defended Church education in the 1980's. He stood out as a gentleman among gentlemen, gracious, kind and in possession of a wit which he shared through his one-of-a-kind writings.
At the ripe old age of 90, although physically infirm, he still churned out written accounts of life among his Jesuit companions at Loyola House, but is heart finally beat its last after fighting the good fight for many years.
In the last interview held with Fr Anton, he told us about how as a young man, he responded to attraction he felt to live the life of a Jesuit priest, in 1945, seventy years ago!
He was one of eight candidates to enter the first noviciate of what was then the vice-Province of malta, who were filled with the love of Christ and had chosen to enthusiastically carry the 'Standard of St Ingatius'.
Following many years of study at Heythrop College in England, in Belgium, Italy, again in Oxford - England, and then in France and Austria, his mission was always mainly in the field of education and formation of young people.
Fr Anton was appointed Rector of St Aloysius' College for three years, followed by a post as rector of the Seminary in Gozo for nine years, and then once again back as Rector of St Aloysius' College for a further seven years. Meanwhile he continued teaching English, particularly in the College Sixth Form.
"The good Lord gave me the grace to be able to celebrate Mass every day, offering them for so many different intentions; to preach in many languages; to give the Spiritual Exercises and offer the Sagraments of Baptism, Reconciliation and Marriage; to be available for spiritual direction. And yet how I wish I could have done more despite being so occupied with responsibilities in education and more lately, due to illness."
"My Ordination in Belgium was a moment of great joy, as were those moments when I somehow managed to offer joy and consolation to others. These were all moments where God worked within me and through me."
"There were also moments of deep sadness as when, for example, on one day during the schools crisis we were expecting the College to be vandalised as the Archbishop's Curia had been. We had to quickly consume the Holy Sacrament in our Chapel and dismantle anything that may have been vulnerable to attack. Thank God the vandals never managed to enter the College."
"I am very conscious of the fact that the number of members in the Society of Jesus, as well as in the Church, in the West, is on the decline, and this saddens me. But I am consoled when I see how, in contrast, the situation East is becoming stronger, and I thank God for this. I feel that God wants something new from all of us, some internal purification, some change in the direction of our journey. Despite all this, I am still filled with hope that this time of decline will pass and the Society of Jesus, as well as the Church, will rise again."
(Photo by Darrin Zammit Lupi)
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