Founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine
George Preca was born in Valletta on 12 February 1880. He was the
seventh of nine children born to a deeply Christian Maltese family.
He grew as a sickly child. He studied at the Lyceum and at the
A few weeks before George Preca was to be ordained priest, he fell
seriously ill and his doctor lost all hope of recovery. However, Fr.
George did recover, and was ordained on 22 December 1906. He would
later attribute his recovery to the intercession of St Joseph
Even before his priestly ordination, Fr Preca felt that God was
calling him to teach His people who were in dire need of Catholic
instruction. About 1906, Fr Preca had already started writing a rule
in Latin which he intended to send to Pope St Pius X asking for the
setting up of a society of Permanent Deacons who would be able to
help the Bishops in the people’s Christian formation.
Shortly afterwards he modified this
project by starting to form a group of young men who would then be
able to instruct others. He gave special formation to one particular
young Dockyard worker, the Servant of God Eugenio Borg. Fr Preca
explained to him at length the sacred passion of Jesus Christ
according to the Gospel of St John. Eugenio Borg was to be the first
Superior General of Fr Preca’s Society.
The beginning of the Society was at Hamrun during the early months
of 1907 in a small room deprived of everything but rich in brotherly
love and in instruction. The Society of Christian Doctrine (SDC)
started with the motto of M.U.S.E.U.M., an acrostic for the sentence
in Latin Magister, Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus -
Lord, would that all the world follow the Gospel.
Not everybody understood this vision of Fr Preca. Some even turned
his intentions upside down. Bringing the Bible and theology down to
the grasp of workers and lay people was truly a novelty at the
beginning of the 20th century. Much more startling was Fr Preca’s
vision of forming lay men and women and then sending them to
proclaim God’s word to everybody in public. On April 12, 1932,
after 25 years from the beginning of the Society the Bishop of Malta
Dom Maurus Caruana OSB approved Fr Preca’s Society and its
When government schools were few and attendance was not compulsory,
the SDC Centres for Catholic instruction started opening from one
parish to another.
People’s religious instruction was widely needed, for their
Christian living centered mostly on the sacraments and popular
devotions without not much depth in the teachings of the Church.
Children and youths came daily to the Centres of Fr Preca whose
catechists, apart from instructing, took them for outings and games
From the very beginning Fr Preca wanted to instruct both young and
adults; but first and foremost he planned the formation of his
dedicated and celibate catechists. After instructing children,
youths and adults, Fr Preca’s catechists are to follow a daily
one-hour formation together in every SDC Centre.
Fr Preca also taught through his writings. In spite of the language
rivalry going on in Malta involving Italian and English, Fr Preca
taught and wrote in Maltese, the language of the common people, so
that everyone could
understand. Fr Preca has about 150 publications in books or
pamphlets to his credit.
His prayers are also numerous, and they reveal Fr Preca as a mystic
constantly seeking God in everything. Fr Preca was also a confessor
much sought for his consoling words. It seems that God even used Fr
Preca’s ministry for some instances of healing.
Today Fr Preca’s charism is still alive and vocations in his
Society are also numerous. In the 1950s Fr Preca himself sent six
Members to evangelise in Australia. At present the SDC has Centres
in the Sudan, Kenya, Peru, London and Albania.
Fr George Preca died at St Venera (Malta) on 26 July 1962. His
mortal remains are preserved close to the Society’s Motherhouse at
Blata l-Bajda. The Cause for his Beatification was initiated in
1975, and he was declared Venerable in June 2000. It is hoped that
Fr Preca will be declared Blessed during the Pope’s scheduled
visit to Malta later this year.
From the The Archdiocese of Malta - Public Relations Office