Caritas Malta was founded on the 11th November 1968 when Caritas National Council was set up to co-ordinate and develop social assistance and charitable activities. Its first director was Rev. Fortunato Mizzi (MAS).
The following organisations formed part of the Council; the Social Development Committee (Social Action Movement), the Social Assistance Secretariat (Catholic Action), the Society of St. Vincent de Paule, St Francis Guild for the Blind, St Elizabeth Society for Needy Children and the Gozo Diocesan Service.
In January 1977, His Grace Mgr. Joseph Mercieca, the Archbishop of Malta, set up Secretariats for the different fields in Church pastoral action, among which was the Secretariat for Diocesan Social and Charitable Action. Mgr. Victor Grech was appointed Archbishop's Delegate for the Secretariat. The purpose of this Secretariat was to strengthen and co-ordinate Church social services and develop new services according to need. In view of the overlapping roles of Caritas Malta and the Secretariat, Caritas National Council became part of the newly established Secretariat. Rev. Fortunato Mizzi resigned from his post as Director of Caritas National Council and Mgr. Victor Grech was nominated in his stead.
The Statute of Caritas National Council was revised and approved in 1977. At that time, the Council was made up of representatives of the following: Social Assistance Secretariat (Catholic Action); Social Development Committee (MAS); Marriage Advisory Committee (Cana); Society of St. Vincent de Paule; Ladies of Charity; St. Francis Guild for the Blind; Gozo Diocesan Social Service; and respective representatives of the College of Parish Priests, the Council of Male Provincials and the Council of Major Female Superiors. The St. Jeanne Antide Welfare Campaign was accepted as Member organisation of the Council in July 1980.
The First Volunteers
Mgr. Victor Grech, believing in the potential and generous self-giving of young people, set up a Caritas Youth Volunteer Group in May 1977. In one of his Lenten Sermons to young people, he launched an appeal to those who were willing to commit themselves to serve God in the poorest of the poor with this evangelical inspiration:
"Whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers, you do it to Me." (Mt. 25:40)
Twenty young people accepted this invitation and started to meet frequently at Caritas Centre, then at Palazzo Carafa, in Bakery Street Valletta, to build themselves personally, spiritually and as a community to be able to give the best possible service to the poor.
Formation in voluntary social work was given to the group on a weekly basis and at weekend seminars through Skills training, case studies, value clarification, and empathy.
The Volunteer Corps was founded with the intention of forming gospel-motivated persons to serve people in difficulty. Consequently, much stress was laid on spiritual formation, personal growth in love of God and neighbour.
As the number of the volunteers swelled, well over 60, the need was felt to change the system of formation. The weekly meetings for the whole group were alternated between spiritual and social training. By 1980, the volunteers were divided into components according to their sector of social voluntary work
A brief history of the Foundation of New Hope
Caritas Malta had long been aware of the problem of drug abuse that crept slowly on the Island. An interest in the drug problem was at its rudimentary stage as far back as 1973 when a Drugs Commission was set up.
In 1977, the Commission was encouraged to focus its attention on educational prevention programmes against drug abuse.
In the late 1970's youths and parents touched by the problem, found a sensitive ear in the person of Mgr. Victor Grech, later the Founder-Chairman of the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers.
Contacts with Rehabilitation Centres abroad were sought as far back as 1978. In June 1984, Coolemine Lodge Therapeutic Community in Ireland was appointed as consultants in the setting up of the first Rehabilitation Centre in Malta.
After the first qualified staff returned from specialised training abroad, in March 1985, the very first Rehabilitation Day-Programme was launched.
As the number of cases requiring the service increased, a central place was sought for the purpose.
On the 2nd September 1988, a first meeting was held with a group of professionals and business people who offered their voluntary help in the administration of the Residential Rehabilitation Centre. They now form the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers.
Formation of Service Groups
In 1979, Dan Klimazewski, MSW, a professional trainer from the USA, was invited by Caritas to conduct a six-month training course in Management by Objectives (MBO) for the group. This training created a workable system for Caritas Programmes. Using MBO strategy, the group structured itself in Service components:
Community Outreach, Crisis Intervention (Temporary Shelter), Aftercare of Mental Patients, support to the elderly and children in residential homes, Counselling, and Information and Referral.