This is the story of the academic formation of priests in Malta from 1838 to 1938. It is detailed, painstakingly researched, and above all very interesting. It is a remarkably accomplished account with an intense and constant attention to the minutest of detail. It has been reconstructed from a huge mass of archival documentation kept at the PRO in London, Rome, at the Vatican Archives, and at all the accessible archives, church and state, on Malta. Fully equipped with supporting evidence on every single page (the footnotes are themselves a mine of information), it never loses sight of the wider framework. The author succeeds in integrating his themes thoroughly within the broader social context on the island and within the developments both in Europe and in the Catholic Church. There is no doubt that he loves his subject.
Professor of Early Modern History
University of Malta
This book is a precious treasure-trove regarding the academic formation of priests in Malta during a specific period in the life of this local Church. It is a labour of love and the fruit of years of patience and meticulous research. Bonnici has gone to the sources with exemplary dedication and indefatigable academic rigour. His work provides us with an enormous gamut of information obtained from a number of archives which are normally inaccessible. The book complements Mgr Francis Bonnici’s previous work, For Service Alone (2003), on the Malta Seminary.
He has now ably filled a lacuna in the history of the Church in Malta and its academic contribution through the vibrant presence of the Faculty of Theology within the University of Malta, a mission which continues today, as it seeks to engage in interdisciplinary academic research and colloquia. The book bears witness to the dedication of countless academics who in trying circumstances remained faithful to their mission to impart the necessary academic formation to future priests who have served generations of the faithful in Malta and all over the world. We look up to them and admire their fidelity and zeal. The Faculty of Theology continues to be a beacon in contemporary times because it stands on the shoulders of the giants who have preceded us.
Mgr Prof. Hector Scerri
Deputy Dean, Faculty of Theology,
University of Malta, and
President, Doctrinal Commission,
Maltese Episcopal Conference