The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

Republic Day honours and awards

Malta Independent Thursday, 13 December 2012, 16:48 Last update: about 7 years ago

On Republic Day each year, the President, on behalf of the Government and people of Malta, pays public tribute to a number of Maltese citizens who distinguish themselves in different fields of endeavour, by appointing them to The National Order of Merit or to the Xirka gieh ir-Repubblika, or by awarding them the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika. 

Nationals of other countries may be conferred with honorary membership of the Order or of the Xirka or awarded the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika on an honorary basis.  In rare cases the Midalja ghall-Qlubija can be awarded, even posthumously, to a Maltese citizen for an act of exceptional bravery.

During the Ceremony, one honorary officer, one officer, one honorary member and eight members were appointed to The National Order of Merit. Three individuals and two couples were awarded the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika.

The Investiture Ceremony was the culmination of a process which started with a public call for nominations issued in September to which a number of citizens responded by submitting their nomination.

A short biographical note on each of the sixteen distinguished persons honoured this year follows.


Officer of the National Order of Merit

Mons Sylvester C. Magro U.O.M.

Sylvester C. Magro OFM is the Titular Bishop of Salde and Apostolic Vicar of Benghazi, Libya since 1997. During the Libyan civil war, the Maltese Bishop decided to stay on and face the impending conflict. He chose to stay close to his Christian flock and the people of Libya.

Bishop Magro joined the Franciscan Friar Minors in 1957 and studied at the Franciscan seminary at Rabat Malta. He was ordained priest in 1966. He furthered his studies at the Pontificio Ateneo Antonianum and at the Lateran University in Rome from where he graduated doctor of theology and obtained a diploma in pastoral theology.

In 1982 he was appointed parish priest of the parish of Our Lady of Sacred Heart in Sliema. In 1988 he joined the Franciscan Missions of the Milan Province in Libya, which Mission was passed on to the Maltese

Franciscans in May 1991. At the same time he was appointed Vicar-General to Bishop Giovanni Martinelli OFM, and was also appointed parish priest of the Maltese Catholic community and other English-speaking Catholic communities in Libya.

In 2002 he was awarded The Cross of the Equestrian Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by the Polish President for his dedication to Catholic workers in Libya.


Members the National Order of Merit

Vincent R. Attard M.O.M.

Vincent R. Attard is the President of Nature Trust (Malta), a NGO that over the years has worked and lobbied hard to obtain legal protection for various plants and animals in the Maltese Islands, helping to save a good number of the around 78 local endemic species from extinction. Nature Trust (Malta) is very active in environmental education through various means. It has also been carrying out several environmental projects such as afforestation, habitat conservation and the creation of marine protected areas. Mr Attard is also a member of the management board of the Majjistral Nature and History Park.


Victor J. Borg M.O.M.

Victor J. Borg is one of Gozo’s best known hoteliers with an interest in quality tourism. The owner of Ta’ Cenc, he also owns the Cornucopia and St Patrick’s Hotels, as well as a car hire agency. In all he employs around 250 people which by Gozo’s standards is somewhat on the

high side. Borg served on various boards such as NTOM, MTA, Gozo Channel, Malta Air Charter, MHRA and GTA.


Mario Buhagiar M.O.M.

Mario Buhagiar is Professor of History of Art and was for 25 years head of the department at the University of Malta, a department which he founded. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and an international authority on Early Christian and Medieval Antiquities and on the Art and Architecture of the Knights of St John.

In 1988 he was responsible for introducing History of Art as an area of study at the University of Malta.  Buhagiar is the author of numerous specialized books and studies on art and archaeology


George Fenech M.O.M.

George Fenech is presently the Chairman of all the companies within the Tumas Group, which employs over 1200 people on full-time basis.

Under his guidance the Tumas Group expanded into new areas of activity and undertook the construction and management of major real estate projects such as Portomaso.

He has been one of the main promoters in the setting up of the timeshare industry both locally and abroad.


Maria Frendo M.O.M.

Maria Frendo is a well known personality in the local cultural scene. She has been instrumental in the developments of the Laudate Pueri Choir, the resident choir at St George’s Basilica in Victoria Gozo, of which she is the accompanying organist and main soloist.

Frendo is a senior lecturer of English at the University of Malta and graduated as Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Durham. She is also Deputy Chairperson of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.


Clare Mary-Louise Gerada M.O.M.

Clare Mary-Louise Gerada is a London-based doctor and Chairperson of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners. She has held a number of leadership positions both at national and local level in the UK, including those of Director of Primary Care for the National Clinical Governance Team and Senior Medical Advisor to the Department of


She is

Medical Director of the Practitioner Health Programme and has published a number of academic papers, articles and books.


Herbert Messina Ferrante M.O.M.

Herbert Messina Ferrante Herbert Messina Ferrante is known for his contribution in Dentistry. He graduated Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Malta in 1960. He specialised at Guy’s Hospital and at the Royal Dental Hospital in London. In 1965 he

graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

He served as dental representative in the Medical Council and representative of the Medical Council in the Dental Specialist Accreditation Committee. Messina Ferrante is the President of Malta College of Dental Surgeons.

Messina Ferrante is founder-member of the Self Employed Union and became its president in 1979, Councillor of the Attard Local Council and President of APAN. He was also very active in the sports sector serving as President of the Sliema Wanderers FC and Vice- President of the Malta Football Association.


Egidio Mizzi M.O.M.

Egidio Mizzi OFM, a biblical scholar, is a member of the Malta Bible Society where he served as vice-president, member of the commission for the translation of the Bible into Maltese and adviser for the revised second edition of the Bible. He was commissioned by the National Liturgical Commission to translate into Maltese various Old Testament texts, and he also translated the Books of Job and Qoheleth for the Maltese edition of the Bible.


Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika

Anna and Charles Azzopardi M.Q.R.

The Azzopardi couple is very active in the National Foster Care Association Malta (NFCAM). For the past years, Anna Azzopardi served as a member and is currently Deputy Chairperson of the Fostering Board. She is also involved in the selection of persons who qualify as foster carers.


Mamudu sive Ahmed Zanya Bugre M.Q.R.

Ahmed Bugre is a Ghanaian naturalised Maltese who is currently Senior Pastor at the New Life Christian Centre in San Awann. He is also Director of the Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, the non-governmental organisation that operates and manages the Marsa

Open Centre.


Charles Casha M.Q.R.

Charles Casha is best known for the books he authored for a children’s audience, particularly humourous stories such as Fra Mudest. His L-Ghaxar Anniversarju, a book for young adults, was awarded the National Literary Prize in 1998. In 2007 his book Trasport published in the

Kullana ghat-Tfal series placed second in the National Book Prize. Casha also wrote novels and short stories for adults such as L-Appartament fir-Raba’ Sular which placed second in the National Book Prize in 2005.


Helen Margaret Muscat M.Q.R.

Helen Margaret Muscat is one of the co-founders of the Action for Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF).  Muscat qualified as a state registered nurse and went on to specialize in palliative and breast care nursing. Her career in healthcare spans over 40 years. Muscat worked in surgery and

obtained the post of Ward Sister at the Kingston General Hospital (Hull) in the United Kingdom. Upon moving to Malta she helped in the setting up of the Hospice Movement. She later set up the Breast Care Support Group.


Rita and Kevin Vella M.Q.R.

Rita and Kevin Vella are a young couple from the community of Mosta who are of inspiration to many. This due to their determination to live their life in a normal way in spite of their disability.

Rita and Kevin Vella are living proof of how persons with severe disability can live an independent life in the community.


Honorary Officer the National Order of Merit

Daniel Rondeau U.O.M.

Daniel Rondeau served as Ambassador of the French Republic to Malta between September 2008 and November 2011, after which he was nominated Ambassador of the French Republic to UNESCO. During his term in Malta, Rondeau seized every opportunity to promote Malta

in the French press, both by penning articles himself as well as by inviting journalists from various media and broadcasting houses. In 2012 he published a literary portrait of Malta, Malta Hanina.


Honorary nember of the National Order of Merit

John William Halinski M.O.M.

Lieutenant Colonel John William Halinski served in the US Marine Corps in a variety of positions for over 25 years including as a non-resident US Defence Attaché accredited to Malta between 1997 and 2000. He then became the first US resident Defence Attaché in Malta until his retirement in 2004. He was instrumental in strengthening the friendly

relationship between Malta and the USA. This relationship resulted in the US allocation to Malta of nearly 12 million US dollars in Foreign Military Financing and well over half a million US dollars in International Military Training and Education funds during the period when he was accredited to Malta. 

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