Fr Patrick Magro sj, Provincial of the Jesuits in Malta, and Mr Stephen Scerri, director of Mount St Joseph Retreat House, today addressed a press conference called to air concern and alarm at the prospect of having an extensive shooting range next door to the retreat house.
Mount St Joseph was built decades ago to respond to the need of thousands of people who sought and still seek silence in today's busy world. The value of silence is paramount, Fr Patrick said, and this is what Mount St Joseph is all about. Almost 10,000 persons from Malta and overseas spent time at Mount St Joseph last year alone - all seeking a space where they could reflect and find themselves and God.
Today's press conference was called following the announcement by Hon Michael Falzon during a press conference on Thursday 16th April, stating that the Government is in the final stages of concluding a 45-year lease agreement for the development of a shooting range in the area known as 'Busbesija', limits of Mosta. The border of the said shooting range lies just approximately 120m away from Mount St Joseph's boundary wall.
Concerns are many. The Jesuits were never consulted and the nature of the Retreat House and the atmosphere it offers was, apparently, not considered. The prospect of the noise generated by a shooting range, even with noise-abatement measures in place, is alarming and will be fatal to the service the retreat house offers to society. There are fears regarding safety, particularly due to the close proximity of the range to the retreat house grounds which host hundreds of children annually.
'The Jesuits will do all we can to protect the valued silent environment offered by this retreat house to so many who use it. There has already been a huge reaction by so many who have passed through here over the years - many have made life-changing decisions in this place, as a result of finding the space and quiet time for intense reflection here, and so this place remains very close to their hearts,' Fr Patrick said.
Fr Patrick said he has written to the Prime Minister regarding the issue, but has as yet received no reply.
Mr Stephen Scerri offered a thorough explanation of the concerns regarding noise, the process by which the said project reached this stage with a public announcement only recently, as well as a run-through of regulations and policies (or lack of them) regarding shooting ranges.
More information may be found in this document, which contains most of the material covered during the press conference.
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