Malta
This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Remembering Fr George Grima, who helped thousands in Brazil and Africa

Often likened to St Mother Teresa of Calcutta, those of us who knew Fr George Grima well cannot but agree with this comparison. Fr George, who died on September 25, 2017, was indeed the male version of this saintly nun.

His dedication to the poor of Brazil, Kenya and Ethiopia was total and unconditional. Each person he came in contact with was, in his eyes, another Christ and, consequently, he treated them like royalty.

Fr George was never happier than when he would find an abandoned child or newborn baby in some old, rusty toilet cabin while doing the rounds in the bushes. He would walk back to where we happened to be lodging, carrying the tiny bundle in his arms, beaming with joy and repeating: “We saved another.”

When Fr George was due to visit a particular school or orphanage, children would line up in their hundreds to give him a warm welcome. It was their way of showing their gratitude to the person who made it possible for them to attend school, have a roof over their head and food on the table. All this is made possible thanks primarily to the generosity of the people of Malta and Gozo.

Being from Malta and part of the group headed by Fr George, we undeservedly got all the credit. Consequently, we were cheered and pampered and altogether spoilt on all our visits. 

With Mother Teresa in India, in 1983.With Mother Teresa in India, in 1983.

One episode that springs to mind as I try to relive the moments I shared with this holy priest was when he came across a little baby boy in the hills surrounding a small village. The baby was crying in desperation.  Filthy and visibly undernourished, he lay on a little patch of dirt. His mother, with obvious mental problems, was crouched some distance away. All efforts to make her come near her baby proved futile. She made it obvious that she wanted us to take the child away.

Fr George asked the people of the village if anyone was willing to take care of the baby. As nobody came forward, we took him back with us to the nuns with whom we happened to be lodging. They were thrilled to have him. They quickly washed him, fed him and put him to bed. 

The next day, Sunday, all the village people gathered in church, and, during Mass, Fr George held up the little baby for all the congregation to see. There was immense joy and singing and clapping while the baby was being baptised and given the name Johannis. I later learned that he was adopted in Europe and I would like to think he’s living a happy and fulfilled life. 

His dedication to the poor was total and unconditional

Fr George was not only concerned with the well-being of the poor, the old, the abandoned, the lepers, the drug addicts, the AIDS victims, the handicapped and the sick in general. He was also very kind to the volunteers who, from time to time, joined him on his travels.

There were times when all the suffering we witnessed got too much for us and we would get very upset. Fr George would gently talk to us and give us the courage to continue with our mission. This happened to my daughter, Alexia as she entered the compound run by the nuns of Mother Teresa.  She was overwhelmed by the pain and suffering and Fr George made it a point to stay by her side to console and encourage her.

My panic moment came when I was told that the next day we were going to visit a leper colony to inaugurate large huts newly built by the initiative of the Missionary Movement. I was worried and upset as scenes from the film Ben-Hur raced through my mind. I was afraid that I would not cope and, instead of helping the lepers, I would hurt and offend them by my reaction.

Fr George with a leper at Kalijat, India, in 1985.Fr George with a leper at Kalijat, India, in 1985.

I don’t remember what Fr George said to help me but it worked because, the next day, all went well and it was a pleasure to witness the joy of the residents as they received their new homes.

Fr George was involved in many projects but, by far, his main concern was to provide food for the thousands of needy children. We usually lived in convents and compounds but, on the rare times we stayed in a hotel, he would refuse the food we offered him, saying: “That price is equivalent to a sack of rice, think how many more children I could feed.” That was always his main concern.

His last words to me, when I visited him in his home in Gozo, were: “Thank you for the love you all gave me.” Indeed, he was much loved and he knew it.

The missionary movement Jesus in thy Neighbour (Ġesù fil-Proxxmu) is now in the good hands of Fr Alex Victor Cauchi. I have no doubt the movement will continue to bring love and relief to thousands of needy children in Brazil and Africa, also thanks to the blessing and intercession of Fr George.