Funeral Mass takes place for Mgr George Bezzina of Victoria
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The funeral is taking place this afternoon of Mgr George Bezzina, a member of St George’s Collegiate Chapter and a much-loved priest of the Gozo Diocese. Mgr Bezzina passed away on Thursday, the 13th of September at the age of 58.
H.L. Mgr Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo and Dean of St George’s Collegiate Chapter, will preside the Solemn Funeral Mass of Mgr George Bezzina, at his home Parish Church of St George in Victoria, only a few metres away from his family house at Castle Hill.
The Basilica filled up from early afternoon with parishioners, friends and spiritual children of a priest who was fully committed to love the Church and its flock. The parish radio LBV is broadcasting the Eucharistic celebration, with audio & video streaming on its official webpage www.lbv104.com, followed by a special live radio programme.
Earlier this afternoon the remains of Mgr Bezzina was laid for public homage at the Parish Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Fontana.
His remains were then taken for public homage at St James’ Church, Independence Square, Victoria, with the Solemn Celebration of the Office of the Dead at St James Church, led by Archpriest Mgr Pawlu Cardona and the Collegiate Chapter of St George’s Basilica.
The Funeral Cortege then made its way from from Independence Square to St George’s Basilica.
George Bezzina, the son of Joseph and Salvina Buttigieg, was born in Victoria, Gozo on the 8th of December 1953, solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. At a young age, he was an altarboy at St George’s parish church. He recieved his education at the Victoria Primary School, then at the Sacred Heart Seminary and later at MCAST, where he obtained a Diploma in Business Management. Before joining priesthood, he worked in various financial sectors as director and accountant with the Westminster Group of Companies and Westminster Holdings Ltd.
In October 1984, at the age of 31, he initiated his philosophical and theological studies at the Gozo Major Seminary, and was ordained to priesthood on 23 June 1990 by H.L. Nicholas J. Cauchi. A year before, he had served as deacon at Pope John Paul II’s Mass at Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, during his pastoral visit to Malta and Gozo.
He celebrated his First Solemn High Mass at St George’s Basilica on July 8, 1990. Following his ordination, he spent three months in the parish of San Eustorgio in Milan. He soon became active in the Charismatic Renewal, and since 1991 had been in charge of the movement’s activity in Gozo, leading many healing-services in Malta and abroad. For two years, he also taught Economy and Commerce at the Sacred Heart Minor Seminary in Victoria.
On 9 June 1991, Fr Bezzina became the seventh parish priest of Fontana and ipso facto an honorary member of St George’s Collegiate Chapter. During his tenure the Fontana parish church was embellished with many works of art, including the ceiling paintings by Chev. Paul Camilleri Cauchi, a new antiporta for the main door, various works of golden embroidery to adorn the church altars, a golden diadem for the titular statue as a monument of the centenary celebrations of the Church Dedication, the restoration of Giuseppe Calì’s titular altarpiece of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a new ornamental cornice on top of it, the restoration of the church’s pipe organ, and the renovation of the electrical system.
As parish priest, Canon Bezzina also launched a new community radio station, chose extraordinary ministers for the distribution of the Holy Eucharist, called members of his parish community to become group leaders for every street and thus keep contact between the parish priest and the households, introduced the Midnight Mass on New Year’s Eve, and saw to the better animation of the Sunday liturgy.
It was also thanks to his initiative that the main altar painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was crowned by Bishop Cauchi on 18 June 1993, when he also invited Cardinal Francis Arinze to visit Gozo; and the first centenary of the Dedication of the church was celebrated in 2005, when the devout statue of the Immaculate Conception was brought over to the Fontana parish from the church of the Franciscan Conventuals in Victoria.
In 2007, after leaving the Fontana Parish, Dun Gorg was made Head of Personnel at the Finance Department of the Gozo Diocesan Curia. Welcomed as an effective member of St George’s Collegiate Chapter in July 2009 as coadjutor of Can. Gwann Scicluna, the following September 24 he was honoured with the title of Cappellano di Sua Santità as a monsignor.
On the 8th of February 2011, Bishop Mario Grech made him administrator of the church of St James, where Mgr Bezzina re-introduced the female section of the old Confraternity of Our Lady of Sorrows. Lately he was also chaplain to the Chorus Urbanus, having been one of its founding members in 1975. He was also a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
Photos – St George’s Parish Archives, Victoria; Joe Attard; Chris Galea; Andrew Formosa.