A special national thanksgiving mass for Scouts and Girl Guides was held this morning in lieu of the annual national Scouts and Guides Rally. The rally could not be held as usual due to current mitigation measures against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Celebrated by H. E. Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, the mass was attended by H. E. President George Vella and the first lady, Miriam Vella. The Scout Association of Malta’s chaplain, Fr Anton Briffa, the Malta Girl Guides Association chaplain, Fr Luke Cutajar and the chaplain of the Minor Seminary, Fr Stephen Magro co-celebrated.
Around 90 adult members from both associations attended the mass physically, while hundreds of young members followed the mass which was transmitted on both Associations’ Facebook pages.
The mass was hosted at the Archbishop’s Seminary Chapel at Tal-Virtu’ Rabat, surrounded by beautiful countryside views reminiscent of outdoor Scouting and Girl Guiding activities which are currently on hold due to the pandemic. It was a beautiful occasion to mark the voluntary work carried out by hundreds of volunteer members of both associations. Despite the current Covid- 19 restrictions, both organisations kept Scouting and Girl Guiding activities going albeit virtually. The mass also served as an opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced by the local Scouting and Girl Guiding movements throughout over the past months and to pay tribute to the many lives lost due to the virus, especially former members.
After mass the Scouts and Girl Guides gathered, renewed their promise led by the Chief Commissioners of both Associations, Anton Pisani and Stephanie Anastasi.
During the homily, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna reminded the congregation about the nativity story. He spoke on how the angels appeared to the shepherds, who received the news about the birth of Jesus Christ first. “The shepherds are the representation of leadership. Scouts and Girl Guides are leaders who work with young people to have future citizens with a sense of service, tolerance and hospitality. They dedicate their lives to others through voluntary work and discipline to help the young members’ grow, become good citizens and to have a better world,” he said.
President George Vella said he would have preferred to be on the dais in St George’s Square waiting to watch thousands of young people and children, march past and receiving the salute. “This ceremony is a symbol of Scouts and Guides’ ability to adapt to arising circumstances. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet with a group of Girl Guides who shared their experience about an online programme instead of the traditional one. Scouts and Girl Guides were set up By Robert Baden Powell to address the formation of young people, pass on skills, but also qualities. In the face of materialism, egoism, individualism, more people with solid values for life and integrity are needed to invest in a better future with determination and dedication,” the President added.
Malta Girl Guides President, Karen Buttigieg said it is easy to give up against adversity, not just during a pandemic but also in the face of poverty, other social injustices and the destruction of the natural environment. “Girl Guides and Scouts continued to make a difference not just in their groups but also in the communities they form part of through positive action. I am hopeful when I realise that there are so many people involved in both organizations committed to continue making the world a better place, a little everyday. The values learned through Girl Guiding and Scouting serve as an essential navigation system for the members’ lives,” Ms Buttigieg said.