Annual National Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu
The Maltese Association of the Order of Malta very successfully organised the 29th edition of its annual national pilgrimage to the very special Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu in Gozo, accompanying a number of Our Lords the Sick and the Elderly, on Saturday, 26th May 2018.
The President of the Maltese Association, Marchesino Daniel de Petri Testaferrata, led the Members of the Maltese Association as well as the Members of the Volunteers of the Order who attended this event.
Over 120 special guests, hailing from St. Vincent de Paule Residential Home for the Elderly, Mount Carmel Hospital and Sir Paul Boffa Hospital in Malta and from Dar l-Arka Respite Centre and the Gozo General Hospital in Gozo, along with a number of their carers, were invited join Members and Volunteers on this pilgrimage.
The contingent from Malta, in 6 large tail lift transport vehicles, and a number of private motor cars, gathered in the early morning at the Cirkewwa terminal for special boarding on a dedicated extra ferry service on board the m.v. GAUDOS at 0900. The spirit of pilgrimage continued at Mgarr, where the group was greeted by a most effective police escort.
At the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, the group which travelled from Malta was joined by the Gozitan contingent arriving in another 2 transport vehicles.
Thanks to the reserved parking which was allocated for the transport vehicles just outside the Sanctuary’s grounds, and good traffic control by the police officers detailed as our escorts for the day, disembarking of all Our Lords the Sick and the Elderly took place in a most tranquil and organised fashion.
Full advantage was taken of our being well ahead of schedule, as well as of the glorious weather, to allow some time for our guests to be taken around to admire and reflect upon the beautiful mosaics depicting the 20 Mysteries of the Holy Rosary which now adorn the large picturesque and car-free open parvis leading to the Shrine. The mosaics were commissioned to the Centro Aletti of Rome, under the guidance of Fr Marco Ivan Rupnik, SJ, of Slovenia. The Centro Aletti is a renowned sacred art studio. Works by the studio are to be found in around 150 churches worldwide
Holy Mass was celebrated by His Lordship Mgr. Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo, who delivered a brief but extremely meaningful homily on what it means to be a Christian. The Principal Chaplain of the Maltese Association Mgr. Lawrence Gatt and the Chaplain of the St. Vincent de Paule Residence the Rev. Fr. Ivan Scicluna concelebrated.
The Hon. Dr. Maria F. Deguara MP, former Mayor of the Naxxar Local Council and wife of the former Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Louis Deguara, attended the liturgical function and was seated in the benches reserved for dignitaries.
Dr. David Cassar and the Hospitaller Dr. Kevin F. Dingli read the readings, whilst Dr. Arthur Galea Salomone read the bidding prayers. Members of the Volunteers of the Order in their white VOTO T-Shirts and blue jeans took up the offerings whilst a resident of Mount Carmel Hospital presented a bouquet of flowers. Finally, the President then lead the congregation in the recital of the Prayer of the Order immediately prior to the dismissal.
The Laudate Pueri Choir, under the direction of Mgr. George Frendo, provided the music and singing during the liturgical celebration.
Immediately after Mass, the Hospitaller presented 2 baskets containing a number of special Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu black rosary beads in individual transparent boxes. These were blessed by His Lordship Mgr. Mario Grech and distributed by VOTO members to each one of Our Lords the Sick and the Elderly attending the pilgrimage.
Our Lords the Sick and the Elderly were then driven to the San Lawrenz Primary School, where cold drinks and a finger food lunch lovingly prepared by George Borg and which also catered for soft food patients awaited them. This was served by members and Volunteers in a festive atmosphere which also saw some of our guests sing a few numbers, notably some Elvis Presley hits, and even take to the dance floor thanks to the entertainment provided by the guitarist duo Spiro Sillato and Spiro Cauchi.
The Minister for Gozo, the Hon. Dr. Justyne Caruana, also ensured to pay a visit to our guests whilst at the lunch venue, which was most appreciated.
This was our first experience of the San Lawrenz Primary School as a lunch venue, which necessitated a finger food service, but it all turned out extremely well with ample parking on the grounds for our guests who all chose to be placed under the shaded arcades where a gentle breeze ensured we all remained comfortable and cool on what was otherwise one of the first hot days heralding the approaching summer.
After lunch our guests from Malta were taken on a short tour of the island of Gozo, reaching Mgarr harbor in time to board the 4.30 p.m. designated extra ferry service once again on the m.v. GAUDOS back to Cirkewwa.
The Maltese Association wishes to thank the Members of the Ta’ Pinu Pilgrimage sub-committee as well as the Order of Malta Volunteers in Gozo for organising the event and seeing it through in spite of certain initial setbacks, all Members and Volunteers who attended, Fr Gerard Buhagiar Rector of Ta` Pinu Sanctuary as well as Fr. Dominic Sultana who assists him, the Laudate Pueri Choir under the direction of Mgr. George Frendo, the personnel of the various hospitals and residences who accompanied our special guests in particular Mr. Ron Zaffarese of St. Vincent de Paule Residence and Ms. Juliet Pace of Sir Paul Boffa Hospital, Mr. Noel Formosa Mayor of San Lawrenz Local Council and Mr. Saviour Tabone Head of the San Lawrenz Primary School who provided the lunch venue, Mr. George Borg who provided the catering, guitarist duo Spiro Sillato and Spiro Cauchi who provided the merriment at the lunch venue, the Gozo Channel Line for affording special boarding facilities and the Police Force for providing escort services throughout the day for the vehicles which conveyed Our Lords the Sick and the Elderly.