Assisi: Death of Friar Massimiljan Mizzi, OFMConv.

Tuesday, 04 March 2008 11:25

Witness of Fidelity to the Church and Openness to Dialogue

On March 3, 2008 we received notice from Assisi of the death of Friar Massimiljan (Max) Mizzi, founder of the International Franciscan Center for Dialogue (CEFID).

FRIAR MASSIMILJAN MIZZI, OFM CONV., was born in Malta on October 28, 1930, made temporary profession on November 1, 1949, and Solemn Vows on December 27, 1952, for the Province of St. Paul the Apostle in Malta. He was later ordained a priest on March 26, 1955, and from 1956 to 1959 was the Rector of Postulants at Gozo (Malta). He was then transferred to Assisi where he was Master of the Brother Novices at Rivotorto from 1959 to 1961, and then Master of the Brothers and Assistant Director for the Clerics at the Sacred Convent from 1961 to 1970, and finally, from 1970-1971, for the Clerics and the Brothers together.

In 1960 he began his ecumenical activities in Assisi, where twelve years later he founded the “Franciscan Center for the Ecumenical Apostolate” at the Sacred Convent, of which he was named Director by the Custodial Chapter of Assisi.

In 1989 the General Chapter meeting in Assisi instituted the “International Franciscan Center for Dialogue (CEFID), and a year later, Friar Mizzi was named General Delegate for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue. From 1993 until 2003 he resided at the International Franciscan Center for Dialogue (CEFID), above the Franciscanum, and, as Director of the Center, represented the Order at many meetings in Italy and around the world, encouraging the Friars of the Order in this new apostolate and organizing meetings, conferences, ecumenical celebrations, and interreligious dialogues at the CEFID and the Sacred Convent.

The activities of Friar Massimiljan Mizzi and of the CEFID were many and varied from the beginning, both in Assisi and around the world. At CEFID he organized meetings, conferences, round tables, moments of prayer, and cultural activities. CEFID has been visited by more than 1300 people from various Christian Churches and other Religions.

He received various acknowledgements for his work, from Pope Paul VI, the Archbishop of Canterbury, from “Life Foundation International”… The President of Malta conferred upon Friar Massimiljan the title of “Member of the Order of Merit”, and Texas Christian University gave him an honorary Doctorate of Letters. In 2002 he was a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for the fourth time.

Between the years of 1993-2003, CEFID maintained excellent relations with the Vatican, particularly with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians, as well as the Diocesan Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue for the Diocese of Assisi, the Italian Episcopal Conference, and many ecumenical institutions both within and outside of Italy. Finally it can be said that the “spirit of Assisi” may not have come about if he had not promoted, throughout the whole world, the city of Assisi as a privileged center for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

He returned to the house of the Father on March 3, 2008 at the Sacred Convent in Assisi.