Servant of God Joseph De Piro – reflections from his life and writings; First Sunday in Advent Year A


Dear Sisters and Brothers, Relatives, Benefactors and Friends

In 2012, in another effort to promote the life, writings and spirituality of Our Founder the Servant of God Joseph De Piro, Fr Tony Sciberras mssp, Vice-Postulator of the Cause of his Canonisation, prepared this set of reflections based on the gospel readings for each Sunday of the Liturgical year. In December 2019 it was decided to publish these reflections again on the main websites of our Missionary Society, and on our various Facebook pages. We also sent out these reflections regularly through email to a group of friends associated with our congregation.

On Sunday 20 November 2022, with the Feast of Christ Our King, we have now concluded the publication of the full set of reflections. After careful consideration, we have decided to start the whole cycle again. We pray that this small contribution will continue to help to make the image of the Servant of God Joseph De Piro alive in our minds and in our lives.

On Wednesday 9 March of this year, Fr Tony Sciberras mssp died suddenly. As the current Vice-Postulator of the Cause of Canonisation of our Founder, it is now my duty to continue with the work that Fr Tony started and carry on the promotion of the image of our beloved Founder in the hope that one day his name will be included in the list of the official saints of the Church.

Thank you for your continued prayerful support. I continue to encourage you to pray to God through the intercession of the Servant of God Joseph De Piro. Kindly report to us whenever you do so and especially when you feel that a grace you have requested has been granted. Please email us on [email protected]

Thank you

Yours faithfully

Fr Mario Zammit mssp


Cause of Beatification and Canonisation

Servant of God Joseph De Piro

Year A

1st Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 121:1-2,4-5,6-9; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44.


As we start a new liturgical year, on the first Sunday of Advent, the Church encourages us to “… stay awake …” and “… be ready ….” (Mt 24:42a, 44a) because the Lord will come at a time we least expect. At Christmas we celebrate the coming of God amongst us and in our own life. Unless we are careful, we will be caught unprepared, as did people at the time of Noah and Lot.

Ignatius of Loyola suggests a method of discernment to help those who follow his spirituality to observe and listen to God’s actions in their life. Joseph De Piro was familiar and practised Ignatian discernment; from his writings we can see him discerning God’s will in his decision to become a priest and in the establishing of his missionary society. De Piro was aware of the ‘signs of the times’ in his life. We are reminded of this need to ‘stay awake’ look out for the coming of the Lord in the various situations in our life.


Further Readings:

In January 1898 Alessandro De Piro and his wife Ursola travelled to Italy for a holiday; there Alessandro felt sick and died. On the 8th May, their son Joseph, a first-year law student at the University of Malta, decided to start studying for the priesthood. In July he travelled to Rome to start studying philosophy and theology at the Gregorian University. From Rome he often wrote to his mother. On the 22nd December 1898 he reflected:

“According to our judgement, this year has been one of misfortune; this according to our human way of seeing things. God never acts imperfectly; his works can only be good. I can certainly say that the consolations we experienced have been far greater than the grief caused by our great loss.”

A few months later, on 13th May 1899, Berti, Joseph’s brother, died at the age of twenty-two. He was the sixth in the De Piro family. Two days later Joseph again wrote to his mother:

“Dearest mother, among all my brothers and sisters, I am the least able to comfort you, from Rome. It is clear that God and the Blessed Virgin Mary have not forgotten us; they often provide us with opportunities that invite us to deepen our trust in them. Regarding Berti, we can be sure that he is in a better place; he is with our loved ones who have left us. In a letter he wrote to me on 9th May, he shared … what he had experienced the day before at the Jesuits’ church; this made me truly happy. Berti wrote: ‘Today we can truly say that the 8th May is one of the most devotional days in the year.’ He wrote about his devotion to Our Lady of Pompei. He told me that he had prayed fervently and requested Our Lady to grant him a grace he needed. As we grieve, we can now see how Our Lady responded to this request. Berti did not have time to pray a Novena of thanksgiving; soon after she took him with her to heaven – the greatest gift that we can be given.”

These letters of the Servant of God are not the only witness to his ability to observe the signs of the times; his whole life is proof of this. When he was still young, he was convinced that God had chosen him to be the founder of a missionary society. To confirm this he sought the support of other priests, but could not find any. Mgr F.X. Bonnici, founder of St Joseph’s Orphanage and a great friend, told him that his dream was almost impossible to achieve. Like Noah in today’s gospel reading, Joseph De Piro trusted in God and carried on with his dream. He started the religious Missionary Society of St Paul on the 30th June 1910.

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