July 31 is the day on which the Catholic Church commemorates Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Company of Jesus known simply as ‘the Jesuits’. With Jorge Mario Bergoglio becoming the first Jesuit pope in history in March 2013, few are those who have not heard of the Spanish-born congregation which came into being as one of the major projects of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. To be fair, the Jesuits are much more than that! Their missionary work in third-world countries and among university students is known worldwide.
July 31 also happens to be the birthday of one of our most beloved priests who is no longer with us. Mgr Salv Borg was born on July 31, 1944 in Victoria. He hailed from a family of priests. An uncle of his from his mother’s side was Dun Ġwann Scicluna, who formed part of the first group of canons of the newly established Collegiate of St George back in 1976. Other relatives who were either religious or members of the clergy where Patri Tumas of the Franciscan Minors and the more renowned Patri Akkursju Xerri ofm, the founding father of the Għawdex – now Il-Ħajja f’Għawdex which incidentally has a Ġorġjan as its present editor – and the author of the extremely popular Innu Popolari lil San Ġorġ Martri. Canon Joseph A. Borg ‘ta’ Kuzzitu’ is also a cousin of the late Dun Salv.
Dun Salv was loved by one and all. He was a good preacher, a much sought after spiritual director, a member of the Pro Sanctitate Movement of Mgr Giaquinta of Rome, a writer of drama and other plays and so many other things. The Milan Football Club was so much at heart for him! He was a renowned tifoso of the north Italian squadra. Last but not least, he served as archpriest of St George’s Parish Basilica from 1986 to 1997. He succeeded Mgr Emanuel Mercieca as Archpriest and was succeeded by Mgr Dr Joseph Farrugia.
Mgr Borg must have been happy to see two of his young parishioners preparing themselves to enter our diocesan major seminary to begin their studies for the priesthood. Tonio Galea and Geoffrey G. Attard were accepted as candidates for the priesthood during the summer of 1996; Tonio’s was a late vocation and everybody was surprised to see this young and energetic member of the Society of Christian Doctrine (Museum) moving into the priesthood! The most recent seminarians to enter seminary from St George’s were Emanuel Buttigieg and George Bezzina; the latter has already passed away and is now in our prayers!
During the centenary celebrations of 2003, it was quite moving to see Mgr Salv Borg, Archpriest emeritus of the Basilica, together with Mgr Joseph Farrugia processing around the streets of Victoria during the various festivities and processions that took place in honour of St George. Two authentic Ġorġjani whom we will never forget!
Mgr Borg died in September 2007 after a short illness which he bore with great courage! So many parishioners had the privilege of visiting Lourdes together with him and under his spiritual guidance; he was such great company to be with! Always jovial and ready to make fun of his stoutish shape, his presence meant continuous laughter and banter! Dear Dun Salv, who can ever forget you! Your very person inspired us in as much as it reflected the ideal Christian gentleman!
We want to tell you how much we miss you. Happy 75th birthday… in heaven! May you rest in peace!