The Missionary Society of St Paul, the Maltese Community Council of Victoria and the Maltese community in Australia mourn the loss of Fr Claude Borg mssp, who passed away peacefully on Saturday 17th June at the Uniting Mulluana Residential Care, Blacktown in Sydney on 17 June 2017, aged 91 years.
Former chaplain to the Diocese of Parramatta Maltese community, Fr Claude Borg was aged 91 and in his 71st year of profession and 65th year of his missionary priesthood.
A Requiem Mass was concelebrated by nine priests at St. Paul’s Chapel in Parkville Victoria on Tuesday 27 June 2017 led by the MSSP Provincial Fr Ivano Burdian, Fr Edwin Agius mssp and Fr Lonnie Borg. The mass was followed by burial at the nearby Carlton cemetery.
Born in Malta, Fr Claude began his journey with the Paulists in 1938. He made his first profession in 1945 and perpetual vows in 1948. He studied both at the Malta Seminary and University and was ordained in Malta on the 22nd December 1951.
Fr. Claude’s first assignment was at the Oratory in Birkirkara for 4 years after which he was sent to our fledgling Australian mission in Melbourne in 1956. He was assigned as a Maltese Chaplain at Parkville. He was the first MSSP to be appointed Parish priest of Our Lady of Victories Parish, Horsley Park in 1965 where he cared for his people for 6 years before returning to Malta. In Malta he served the MSSP in different official roles and was available for supply in different places.
Fr Claude returned to Australia in 1980 once again with the Parkville community for 3 years after which he became assistant priest at St Joseph’s Parish, Rozelle in Sydney, then under MSSP care. In 1990, he joined the MSSP community at St Francis Assisi Chapel at the La Valette Maltese Centre, Blacktown as a chaplain for the Maltese in the western suburbs of Sydney especially in the Diocese of Parramatta.
While Fr. Claude entered aged care at St Dominic’s Blacktown in 2003 and in 2016 in Uniting Mulluana Blacktown, he continued to be involved in caring for the Maltese and others till quite recently. Over the many years of ministry Fr Claude has also been involved with various groups in-particular due to his love of liturgy and music the formation of Maltese and other choirs both in Melbourne and Sydney.
In December 2016, Bishop Vincent Long OFM CONV on the occasion of Fr Claude’s 65th Anniversary of Ordination to the priesthood said, “Thank you for your example of priestly dedication and fidelity. Your priesthood is a sign of hope and renewal of God’s everlasting love to his people.”
Close friend of Fr Claude, John Beale, commented that Fr Claude just got on with the job, “he was a friend to all, everyone adored him wherever he went. He was a very religious man, he had to get on with the Lord’s work. He loved music and wherever he went he would create a choir.”
Despite his deteriorating health over the past few years he remained as active as he could be and was a witness that we can embrace our journey of aging with vigor and trust in the Lord. He will be fondly remembered as an energetic, jovial and caring pastor by all who knew him and whose lives were touched by him.
Fr Claude Borg—An Appreciation by Fr Edwin Agius mssp
Shortly after his ordination to the priesthood in 1951, Fr Borg was assigned to minister at the MSSP Oratory in Birkirkara. Having its origin under the Salesians since 1910 and taken over by the MSSP in 1928, the Oratory was the place where most of the children of Birkirkara received the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation at the time.
During his four years ministering at the Oratory, Fr Claude contributed so many of his talents. In addition to the Catechism Classes that he held regularly every week day and Mass and film show every weekend, he initiated a choir, a group of altar servers, stage drama, and various sports activities. He also made a considerable contribution to establishment of St Paul’s Brigade and the creation of its uniform. His joyful character with everyone, especially with the young generation, continued to attract more young people to the Oratory.
My five brothers and I attended regularly at the Oratory. At the age of eight years I attended the Oratory at the time that Fr Claude was there. I became an Altar Server and joined the Choir under Fr Claude, who with great difficulty managed to persuade me to go on stage to sing—but he only managed to do this once!
Fr Claude was also very instrumental in my religious vocation. It was to him that I expressed, for the first time, my wish to join the MSSP. Of course, Fr Claude gave me his full support and assurance of God’s Love, not just with his kind words but more so by being a role model.
Fr Claude gave extra lessons every Saturday morning in English and Maths to me and four others, who were also intending to join the MSSP (one of them was Fr Frank Cortis who died in Perù four years ago), to help us enter St Aloysius College and continue our secondary education. These lessons increased within two years until I entered as an Aspirant with the MSSP in 1956, at the age of 12. Later that year, Fr Claude was assigned to the MSSP Mission in Australia.
In Australia Fr Claude served the Maltese community in Parkville and Sunshine in Victoria and in Sydney, Horsley Park and Blacktown in New South Wales for many years.
Although Fr Claude and I never worked together in the same ministry, Fr Claude continued to be supportive and encouraging with his energy, his love for the Church and leading by example.
May he rest in peace.