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St. George Preca

May 9
Born: 1880 in Valletta, Malta
Died: 1962 in Santa Venera, Malta
Beatified: 2001 by Pope John Paul II, his beatification miracle involved the healing of an irreversibly detached retina of a member of the Society.
Canonized: 2007 Pope Benedict XVI

Seventh in a Christian family of nine children, the son of Vincent Preco and Nathalie Ceravolo. His father was a merchant and health inspector. George was a sickly child. Studied at the Lyceum and Major Seminary on Malta. A severe respiratory ailment in seminary nearly killed him, but he recovered through the intercession of Saint Joseph. While still a student, he began writing a Rule in Latin for use in a planned society of Permanent Deacons. Ordained 22 December 1906.

After ordination he modified his concept of the society. He began teaching along the waterfront, working with the roughest of men. He gathered a group of young male catechists, including the Servant of God Ewgenju Borg, and they formed the beginning of the Society of Christian Doctrine at Hamrun, Malta in 1907. The Society's motto is represented by the letters M.U.S.E.U.M.: Magister Utinam Sequator Evangelium Universus Mundus! (Master, that the whole world would follow the Gospel!, and were dedicated to bringing the Bible and theology to lay people and the working classes.

Educating the working class was so revolutionary that Father George was accused of insanity, and was once ordered to shut down his operation. He caused more uproar with his plan to educate lay men and women, and send them out to proclaim God's word anywhere that would listen.

Society catechist centers opened in many parishes, teaching young and old, and giving children a place to stay out of trouble. Their teaching brought a deeper understanding of the faith to people who simply went through the motions of devotions, often without knowing why. The bishop of Malta approved the Society and its Rule in 1932.

Father Preca taught and wrote in Maltese, the language of the common people. From leaflets to books, George published approximately 150 works. He had a special devotion to the Mystery of Incarnation. Popular preacher, sought after confessor, and believed to have been a miraculous healer. The Society continues its work today with Centres in Malta, Australia, Sudan, Kenya, Peru, Great Britain, and Albania.

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