Monday, February 6, 2012:
Madre Margerita De Brincat: sixty years after her death, closer to beatification
The Diocese of Gozo has just marked the sixtieth anniversary of the demise of the Servant of God Mother Margherita De Brincat, foundress of the local Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, in what seems to be an important development in the process leading to her beatification. The celebrations, in January 2012, included two special Masses at St George’s Basilica, her place of Christening and also the parish of origin of Dun Ġużepp Diacono, the original founder of the congregation.
On Monday 23 January, the basilica was literally packed with children from St Francis’ Primary School for the 9.00am Mass, led by Mgr Ġużeppi Gauci, a priest from our parish who has and is still widely contributing to the diocesan process leading to the official recognition of Mother De Brincat’s heroic virtues by the Church. After the Gospel reading, a group of students from the school performed a short play on Madre Margerita’s saintly life. Students from the same school also produced a series of four informative programmes entitled Inħobbu l-Imħabba on parish radio Leħen il-Belt Victoria.
The day before, Sunday 22, the precise date of the anniversary, Mgr Gauci led as usual the 10.00am Mass for Children and their Families. A group of young guitarists together with members of the St Clare of Assisi Choir, from the Franciscan Sisters’ community in Xagħra, was invited to join the parish’s children, playing and singing special hymns for Mass, amongst them the Innu lil Madre Margerita. The nuns often accompany small groups of children for this Sunday Mass. A book for children about Madre Margerita’s life was also handed out to all children present.
That same evening, Mgr Gauci preached at the main celebration led by Bishop Grech at the congregation’s casa madre, at Strada Palma. The chaplain and confessor for the community of nuns resident at the monastery in Victoria also hails from St George’s parish and is in fact the Treasurer of our Collegiate Chapter: Mgr Carmelo Scicluna.
The religious community in the mother house in Victoria, just a few steps away from St George’s Basilica, owns a primary school and a catechism centre. Some of the members of the congregation also hail from our parish. The latest addition has been that of young Anita Jane Cachia, who started her Novitiate within the congregation on September 17, 2011. Archpriest Mgr Pawlu Cardona attended the ceremony, which took place in one of the convents in Malta.
On the occasion of this anniversary, due to the close links of St George’s parish to the life of Mother Margherita De Brincat and the history of her congregation, popularly know as “is-sorijiet Ta’ l-Istilla”, we are here reproducing an article by Mgr Ġużeppi Gauci which featured on The Sunday Times of Malta on 29 January 2012.
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Mother Margherita De Brincat: in love with Love as a way of life
On May 30, 1988, the Bishop of Gozo Mgr Nicholas J. Cauchi published a decree announcing the opening of the Diocesan Informative Process to prepare for the eventual Beatification and the Canonisation of Mother Margherita De Brincat, foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus. This process was infact initiated on 4 July 1988.
Almost twelve years later, exactly on 22 January 2000, the day which marks the 48th anniversary of Mother Margherita’s death, the conclusion of this Diocesan Informative Process was celebrated, and the Beatification Process is now being continued in Rome. We hope that the Beatification of Mother Margherita, the first in the history of the Diocese of Gozo, may be celebrated in the near future.
Mother Margherita was born at Ta’ Kerċem, Gozo, on 28 November 1862, and on the same day she was baptised at the parish church of St George, Victoria. In her youth, Virginia used to go to Victoria for private lessons in Italian and French, and there she heard about the Association of the Twelve Stars of the Heart of Jesus, founded among a group of young girls, and spiritually directed by Fr Joseph Diacono. Virginia strived to form part of this Association which, later on, through Fr Joseph Diacono’s work, developed to a religious congregation. When divine providence then manifested that Fr Joseph Diacono had to resign from his congregation, Mother Margherita, who always blindly confided in God’s love, chose to carry the burden of the congregation. It was she, then, who brought the congregation to its maturity, who helped it to spread its branches to foreign countries, who gave it its proper charism. Mother Margherita died at the mother house of the congregation, in Victoria, Gozo, on 22 January 1952.
Mother Margherita’s rule of life can be briefly summarised in the words “Let us love Love”, a statement that contains the whole charism of the congregation. To love means a way of life through which Love is given first preference. Love is God, Christ, particularly in the Eucharist, to whom Mother Margherita and her Sisters manifest their love by living a spirit of reparation for the offences He receives. This Love deserves to be known and loved by all and everywhere, and, therefore, Mother Margherita and her Sisters have fulfilled and are still fulfilling an apostolate with children, with the sick and the aged, with the poor, a missionary apostolate, through which Love can be made known and loved everywhere. In this way, the rule “Let us love Love” became for Mother Margherita, and is still for the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, a way of holy life through which they become one with the “Prisoner Spouse” in the Eucharist, and fulfill an apostolic activity through which this Love is made known and loved.
In front of all this we can understand many of Mother Margherita’s expressions as found in her letters. These letters form a very precious part of Mother Margherita’s spiritual inheritance. In 1921, she wrote to her spiritual director, Mgr Anthony Galea: “Let us love our sweetest Jesus who loves us infinitely! Oh, how much I want to love Him with His same Heart! But when when shall I be given this grace? Truly, I am embarassed to think about this; but I strongly desire it”. She frequently invited all her Sisters: “Yes, even at the cost of all sacrifices we ought to offer ourselves as victims to the Sacred Heart”. On another occasion, Mother Margherita wrote: “We ought to make reparation; therefore, let us suffer everything that our sweetest Spouse sends us”. When in 1946 she wrote to one of her communities whose house was named after the Heart of Jesus, she said: “Your house is of the Sacred Heart: therefore, through your union and your fidelity make reparation for the many offences He receives even from his daughters”. We can also note from these words how Mother Margherita strongly believed that the Eucharistic Tabernacle is similar to a “power house” that gives spiritual energy to the human hearts that approach it with love.
Mother Margherita also believed that the Tabernacle is a school of all the necessary virtues for Christian life. When she once wrote to a Sister who suffered from self-love, she told her: “Recommend yourself frequently and warmly to the Eucharistic Heart that can help you to understand and eradicate from your heart all egoistic sentiments and to cultivate only the sentiments of humility and simplicity”. She also wrote to another religious: “I recommend to you strength, patience, etc. Seek everything from the Tabernacle: everything is hidden there”.
Mother Margherita was also convinced that near the Tabernacle, close to the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, she could find rest for her heart; naturally, by totally abandoning herself to her “Prisoner of Love”. For this reason, she frequently invited: “Pay attention not to lose any occasion of approaching the sweet Jesus in his Pyx. There we find Him ready to enlighten us, to console us and to help us”. On another occasion, Mother Margherita wrote: “Always seek the company of Jesus in His Tabernacle: from Him, you can drink the help, consolation, and light you need”.
Mother Margherita truly loved Love. On the suixtieth anniversary of her death, the work that is being carried out to bring about her Beatification will surely be looking closely into this love of Mother Margherita. And when this aim is reached, which we hope will not take too long, all of us can confidently follow in Mother Margherita’s footsteps, so that like her we can love Love and make it known and loved by all and everywhere.