Bishop makes considerable changes in the Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar
Almost a year after his appointment as Bishop of Gibraltar Carmel Zammit has announced he is to make considerable changes in the Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar. The most significant changes will be at the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned and will see the return to the Rock of two local priests and one Maltese priest.
Monsignor John Pardo will become Vicar General of the diocese after 14 years in the English College in Valladolid where he currently holds the post of Rector. The post of Vicar General was last held by Monsignor Paul Bear and has remained vacant since the retirement of the late Bishop Caruana in 2010. Former Bishop Heskett did not appoint a Vicar General during the time he served as Bishop of Gibraltar.
Monsignor Bear, who has been the Administrator at the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned since the days of the late Bishop Charles Caruana will be replaced by Father Mario Tong from Malta who has served in Gibraltar in the past in St Joseph’s Parish. He returns to the Cathedral Parish where he will also serve as parish priest.
Meanwhile Monsignor Paul Bear will become the parish priest at St Joseph’s parish.
Although it is still not known when the changes will take place the indication is that some changes will be immediate whilst others will happen over a period of time.
The announcement – in the form of a Circular letter from the Bishop - was first read out in all churches at the evening Masses on Saturday. It was 30 May.
Other major changes will see Father Michael Bonifacio, at present the parish priest of St Joseph’s, assigned to the ministry of administering to the sick and the elderly. Father Danny Hernandez who has been serving as Chaplain in the British Army will also return to St Bernard’s Church.
Both Monsignor Pardo and Father Hernandez, said the Bishop in his letter, intend to return back to the Rock and after “a period of transition adjustment” will be taking up ministries assigned to them at a later stage.
In the letter Bishop Zammit said that since his ordination it had been his priority to listen to what people had to say, both lay persons and priests.
“Like all of you, I would like to find the manner to realize in a better way the mission that the Church is meant to fulfill in our Diocese, which is mainly that of teaching the word of God and being of spiritual service through the sacraments to the faithful,” he wrote.
It was with this in mind “for the good of the community, priests and laity” that he had decided to introduce some changes and looked around to bring some more priest to work in the Diocese of Gibraltar.
“I acknowledge that it is not easy, neither to bring about change nor to accept change. But change is beneficial both to the individual concerned and to the community,” he further wrote.
Bishop Zammit said he wanted to show his appreciation to both Father Bonifacio and Monsignor Bear for the contribution they have given in their pastoral ministry to their respective parishes.
“I also take this occasion to thank all the priests working in Gibraltar for their dedication to their ministry.”
Meanwhile the return of Father Tong to the Diocese is with the consent of the Archbishop of Malta.
“I pray and hope that these changes will be for the good of the Church in Gibraltar and all the individuals concerned.”