By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
Msgr. Guido Calleja, who spent more than 20 years ministering in the Archdiocese of Mobile, died Aug. 1, 2018, at age 89 in his native Malta.
Msgr. Calleja was pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Magnolia Springs and Our Lady of Bon Secour Mission from 1993-2013 before retiring from active ministry and returning to Malta. He also served as parochial vicar at Little Flower and St. Catherine of Siena parishes in Mobile.
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna presided over the funeral Mass Aug. 4 at Stella Maris Parish in Silema, Malta, where he served as pastor from 1965-1973. Interment followed at Santa Maria Addolorata cemetery in Paola, Malta.
Msgr. Calleja was ordained in Malta in 1953 and served as administrative secretary to the Archbishop of Malta for more than six years and pastor of two parishes for 19 years. In a 1993 article in “The Catholic Week,” Msgr. Calleja said a missionary spirit eventually led him to the United States.
“There were many priests in Malta … The missionary spirit is in the Maltese – the Pauline spirit,” he said.
He originally ministered in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., but returned home after the death of his brother. Msgr. Calleja said in the article he didn’t plan on returning to the U.S., but was eventually introduced to Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb.
In regard to ministering in the U.S., he said “I love the people. They are hungry for God.”
Msgr. Calleja grew up on the southern European island during World War II. The experience steered him toward the priesthood.
“There was starvation everywhere, no clothes, no food and no fuel. We went to school on foot. … My family prayed the Rosary everyday on our knees. … I began thinking about helping people to pray, to have beautiful liturgies and to teach because this is my passion — to teach. This little thing kept growing within me — you know God starts from somewhere.”
Msgr. Calleja is survived by his sister-in-law, Gemma; nephews and nieces, Anna, Guido, Eric and Diane; and other family members and friends.
By ROB HERBST