The Malta Independent 21 October 2016, Friday

School teacher and Puttinu Cares auctioneer receives package from Pope Francis

Mathias Mallia Sunday, 17 January 2016, 09:00 Last update: about 10 months ago

Kenneth Formosa, full-time secondary school teacher and part-time auctioneer for Puttinu Cares, has received an overwhelmingly well-timed and unexpected package from Pope Francis containing two blessed Papal medals. Usually only people who have had a private audience with the Pontiff are privileged to receive such medals, but Mr Formosa, who wrote a letter addressed to the Pope in Puttinu’s name, seemingly appealed to the Pope enough to receive them as well.

The very humble Mr Formosa spoke to The Malta Independent on Sunday detailing the events that led to him receiving a surprising telephone call from the Curia. His role in Puttinu Cares is to help at the auctions that help raise funds for the foundation. Apart from the annual fund-raiser, Mr Formosa also helps with the Facebook page Puttinu Cares Auction where people can bid for anything from sports memorabilia to works of art. He came up with the idea of trying to get a signed picture of the Pope for him to auction.

“About five months ago I had the idea of writing to the Pope to ask if he could send us something to auction,” said Mr Formosa. After speaking to Puttinu Cares CEO Rennie Zerafa and vice chairperson Angele Cuschieri, a letter was created and sent to the Vatican addressed to Pope Francis. The months rolled past and Mr Formosa was almost resigned to not getting a reply, thinking that it had been worth a try.

Last week, just as he was about to undergo laser surgery on his eye, his mobile telephone rang. “It was a call from the Curia to tell me that I had received a package from the Pope.” At the time, says Mr Formosa, he was so surprised that his concern about the operation faded entirely. “I had the operation and felt a great inner peace, as if someone was praying for me.” He went on to say: “This wasn’t the only miracle. The miracle is also the people who work in the hospital and who do their work with a great passion.” He ended by saying: “Nothing comes of nothing; I don’t believe in coincidences.”

The package from the Papal Office contained two blessed medals and a covering letter saying that the Pope had received his letter. “I had originally asked for a signed photograph, but then we found out that it isn’t something conventionally done. My enthusiasm got the better of me,” Mr Formosa recalled with a chuckle.

The Malta Independent on Sunday asked about potential projects for Puttinu Cares for 2016, to which Mr Formosa replied saying that the Sutton Apartments in London [which are used to accommodate the relatives of Maltese patients receiving medical treatment in London hospitals] are almost always full and the only real setback is that they are quite a distance from Great Ormond Street Hospital. The next project in mind is the acquisition of land that is closer to the hospital. However, this will, understandably, be more expensive so it is a project that is ongoing. The teacher-cum-auctioneer said: “The apartments provide everything you need, free of charge.”

Ending the interview on a personal note, The Malta Independent on Sunday asked Mr Formosa if there was one instance in his years of working with various organisations that really stuck out for him. “There isn’t one particular story that I remember. However, sometimes we have meetings with Rennie and Angele and as soon as you open the door to the Rainbow Ward, you understand why we do this work. Even when we are in meetings, sometimes parents will come in to meet us and introduce themselves. When people come to us, they know they’re going to find help and care and we [Puttinu] will do everything they can to help with a great sense of love.”

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