Obituary - Mgr. Luiġi Vella

  On Wednesday the 14th of March, the diocese of Gozo lost one the oldest members of its clergy in the person of Mgr. Luiġi Vella. ‘L-Arċipriet Dun Alwiġ’ as he was known by many was born in Fontana but when six years of ago moved with various members of his family to the village of Żebbuġ where his uncle Dun Franġisk Mercieca was parish priest. He felt the vocation to the priesthood and was ordained in 1955. Together with his brother Dun Ġorġ, Dun Alwiġ helped his uncle in the running of the parish. Bishop Ġużeppi Pace chose him to succeed his uncle as parish priest of Żebbuġ, becoming the thirteenth parish priest and second archpriest of Żebbuġ; he was installed as parish priest on the 8th of December 1964, Solemn Feast of the Immaculate Conception. For about thirty-two years he was the spiritual father of the Żebbuġ parish community until retiring in 1996; Bishop Cauchi installed him as canon of the Gozo Cathedral Church with the title of monsignor. The climax of his pastoral ministry was in his own words the crowning of the titular painting of the Virgin assumed into Heaven revered in the same parish church which was presided by Bishop Nikol Ġ. Cauchi in the presence of Cardinal Ciappi O. P. Although after his retirement from the parish he lived in Fontana, Żebbuġ was in heart and in his mind; he would not miss a funeral or a special anniversary Mass and until he was able, he would visit the parish where he was brought up and lived for the greater part of his life. It was therefore right and just that his funeral would take place in his beloved parish; Bishop Mario Grech presided over the Mass and about forty priests concelebrated. The Żebbuġ parish church was jam-packed. Strong-willed, clear in his pastoral vision and far-sighted in many ways, Dun Alwiġ came across to me who came to know him in his seventies as humble and down-to-earth. As Bishop Grech said in his homily, he can be considered as one of the ‘fathers’ of the Żebbuġ community; I would even add that he was patriotic in his love for that particular community. He is mourned by his brother Dun Ġorġ and his nephew Mgr. Salv Tabone as well as his other relatives, ex-parishioners and friends in Fontana, Żebbuġ and beyond. May God grant him eternal rest! Fr Geoffrey G Attard Victoria, Gozo

Written by: Fr. Geoffrey G. Attard
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