A Good Soul Goes Home

The late Fr Mario Jaccarini SJ

After a brief stay in hospital, early on Wednesday 16th February, the Lord called Fr Mario Jaccarini SJ to Him. (You will find Fr Mario Jaccarini's account of his own life as a Jesuit if you click here.)

Below is an Appreciation of Fr Mario, written by his brother, Victor Jaccarini SJ.

Mario was the oldest of a large family of four boys and three girls born to Dr. Carmelo and Mary Jaccarini on 5th August, 1928. He did his secondary schooling at the Malta and Gozo Lyceums. He won a British Council English Essay prize in 1944. When he decided to become a Jesuit he had never met one but was attracted to the Society by reading Ai Nostri Amici, a monthly magazine of the Sicilian Jesuits. At the age of 17, a few months after the end of World War II, he joined the Society of Jesus, one of the very first batch of Jesuit candidates, who started their formation at Loyola House, Naxxar, the newly opened Maltese Noviciate, in October 1945. Malta was soon (1947) to be declared an Independent Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus belonging to the English Assistancy.

 He studied humanities in Malta for two years at Naxxar followed by three years of philosophy at Heythrop College in Oxfordshire and London. He returned to Malta and did regency (teaching and mentoring) at St. Aloysius College for two years. He studied theology in St. Mary's College, Kansas, USA, where he was ordained priest in 19th June, 1957. Tertianship, the finishing school of spiritual training for a Jesuit, was done in Florence, Italy, in 1958-1959. He then read English at Oxford University graduating in 1962.

He taught English at St. Aloysius College till 2008, a stretch of 46 years, with a longish gap in the 70s when he was Chaplain at the University of Malta and, for some years, also teacher of Jesuit students in Naxxar and Msida. and at times also director of Juniors.

Fr. Mario was a man of God, a truly good and faithful servant who served God with generosity till the very end. As soon as he could walk again with the aid of a cane after an emergency hip replacement operation last November at age 82, he had already started again taking Sunday ministry at St. Gregory's parish church in Sliema! (He had done this regularly every Sunday for several decades). This was typical of his courageous and unflagging dedication to the cause of Christ and his people. 

He was a highly intelligent man and his was a very competent ministry based on a life of prayer, personal reflection, and study, which he kept up practically till the day of his death.

He was a peacemaker. During the bitter and painful divisions in Maltese society in the 60s, he was known to be a priest who was acceptable to and in turn accepted by people on either side of the politico-religious divide and he worked for reconciliation in pastoral practice and by pseudonymous writing. His apostolic courage was also shown by his care for couples whose marriage had suffered shipwreck. His delicate attention to couples was proverbial and it seems he never forgot to write an anniversary note to the numerous couples whose marriages he had once blessed. He was one of the first Jesuit priests to organize youth groups for voluntary summer work in slums abroad. His occasional contributions to the press on religious topics were always very well written.

He was also a sweet and humble person, who did not mind playing second fiddle, even when he could well play in the first position. This goodness and sweetness was noted by fellow jesuits and non-jesuits alike. It explains his ability to play a supporting role, which was exercised admirably and shown by the faithful way in which he served as pastoral helper to charismatic groups. He started this from the early days of the charismatic movement in Malta when it was still not very popular. For some years he was a very loyal personal assistant to the Provincial superior of the Jesuits. He was the first official University chaplain and after a nine-year stint in the post continued helping successive chaplains and was still doing so as part of a team till the year of his death.

His fellow patients and ward mates at Mater Dei Hospital were much impressed by the way he was praying and prayed with him and told us that he was repeating a latin invocation, probably "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit". He was later assisted by his Jesuit Superior from Dar Manwel Magri who comforted him with the last sacrament. May the good Lord receive into his heavenly home Fr. Mario, the servant who had served Him so lovingly and faithfully for the 65 years of his life as a Jesuit..

 V. Jaccarini SJ
22nd February, 2011

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