The Royal University Students’ Theological Association (now Għaqda Studenti tat-Teoloġija) was formally founded in 1945, sixty years ago, however recent research has shown that this Association was in fact a spin-off from an earlier society called Ċirkolu ta’ studju bejn l-istudenti tal-kors akkademiku tat-Teoloġija whose first meeting was held on the 21st of December 1942 at St. Joseph’s institute at Hamrun. The main aim of this circle was to train its members, then twenty-one, to think and discuss problems and issues concerning the Church and religion, namely in Malta. The seminar in this very first meeting concerned “Private Property”.
Three years later, on the 3rd of November 1945, all the students of the faculty of Theology with the permission of the Secretary of the Royal University of Malta met to found the Royal University Students’ Theological Association. The first president was Reverend Renato Cirillo and Carmelo Sant, later a major Maltese biblical scholar, was elected secretary. The aims of the newly found association were the promotion of theological studies, the enhancement of relationships between theology students and other similar bodies in Malta and abroad, together with the advancement of interests its members
Today the Għaqda Studenti tat-Teoloġija is above all else at the service of its members: the students studying Theology at any level at the University of Malta. Two students from the Committee represent all their fellow students at the Faculty Board meetings to express their opinions, help them in their difficulties and sort out their problems. Apart from this from time to time the association organizes social, academic and philanthropic activities. The major among these is the annual Academic Evening in honour of St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of the Faculty of Theology, started in 1944. For this academic evening, international scholars are invited to deliver lectures on various areas linked to theology. A later development within this academic evening is ever-increasing student participation with music, poems, mimes and presentations.
Another popular activity, not as old as the Aquinas Evening is the annual Christmas Campaign started in 2001 and adopting the name the Make my house a home the following year. The aim of this campaign is to encourage theology students to work together for a good cause, namely collecting funds for the Diocesan Commission for Children’s homes. A further aim is to involve all the University students to contribute in a way or another for a more just society.
Għ.S.T. is the pioneer among other Maltese student organisations to publish its own scientific review, christened Melita Theologica, the first number of which was issued in 1947 with the sole initiative of the then Royal University Students’ Theological Association’s committee members. Later, in 1980, Melita Theologica became a joint venture between the Faculty of Theology and the Association. The articles published in it treat subjects such as dogmatic, moral and biblical theology, philosophy and ecclesiastical history. It was also one of the pioneer reviews in Malta to start presenting essays on social sciences.
Logos is another publication of the Għ.S.T. – it is more or less the Association’s newsletter, yet another manner by which the Association reaches its members and encourages them to publish their own views on current affairs.
Yet another annual appointment is the Foundation Day commemoration. This is very aptly celebrated by a thanksgiving mass followed by a seminar and a social activity at the Diocesan Seminary at Rabat, where the Faculty survived for ten years due to political issues.
Over sixty years after its foundation, the Għaqda Studenti tat-Teoloġija is still actively involved in campus life. Proud of its glorious past, the Association looks to the future to continue serving the students venturing in the study of Theology in the best possible way.
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The website of the Għaqda Studenti tat-Teoloġija is available here.
24 May 2013