Some history – Dun Manwel Attard

Maria Regina College

Dun Manwel Attard

Young Adult Education Resource Centre

Triq il-Madonna tal-Abbandunati


San Pawl il-Baħar SPB6351

Directions to get to the Centre

Dun Manwel Attard School at Wardija recalls the noble deeds of a Maltese priest who reached out to the local community in time of war and deprivation.  His exemplary behaviour and Christian fortitude impressed traditional churchgoers like Rita and Guzeppi Grima.  These people had the privilege of attending his make-shift school at Wardija during the Second World War to continue their primary school studies. (In addition to the day school, Dun Manwel Attard organized a night school for adults.)

In the early years of conflict, the newly ordained priest from Mosta was lured to Wardija by the Most Noble Bernardo Manduca.  The Count provided the chaplain with lodging space near to his princely private residence popularly known as Tas-Sultan, in remembrance of Grand Master Perrellos y Rocaful.  From there, Dun Manwel could sense the hardship of the parishioners mostly tenant farmers with sizeable families composed of six to ten children.  His call of duty seemed to wander beyond the set out parameters and many still recount the determination of the cleric in providing for their educational needs by forming a primary school for about thirty pupils. At first those attending gathered in a room in the Busewdin area, and later in the former residence of Sergeant Clayton, now forming part of Dun Manwel Attard School.  At the time, parents hesitated from sending the young to the school at St Paul’s Bay and those from Wardija, Bidnija, and possibly San Martin were invited by Dun Manwel to continue their tuition on a daily basis from 8.00 to 12.00 except weekends in various subjects including, Maltese, English, Mathematics, and Religion.  Entertainment was not lacking and pupils attending school made supervised trips to Valletta to savour the lives of Joan of Arc and Bernardette on the Coliseum screen.  Hikes to G]ajn Tuffie]a also meant that a certain George had to prepare pasta dishes with tomato sauce to feed the insatiable hungry flock, now led by the benevolent priest not only in character formation but also in choir singing from the sacristy of St George’s chapel.  The priest was inclined to support his community unconditionally and ran errands to supply the depleted stock of food and medicine.  During the war there was at least one instance when the loyal chaplain transported a seriously ill three year old girl in his maroon car to the Central Hospital thus preventing certain death.  On his request, telephone equipment was installed at the private residence of the Ta’ Kellina siblings.  The three spinsters were fond of the cleric and prepared decent meals for his nourishment throughout the Wardija phase.

The priest celebrated Mass at St George’s chapel as well as Tal-Abbandunati, and held Yuletide celebrations for residents, including family members of Ta’ Pa`ic, Ta’ Xmun Grima, Taz-Zija Lonz, and to others.  These were mainly employed in agricultural activity and although most of them leased land some held their own fields in the area.  The grocery shop at Wardija was run by a certain {anna and the Grima family had a truck impressed with the Military for road maintenance.

In later years Dun Manwel Attard resided at St Paul’s Bay and led religious service at San Martin.  War residents of Wardija, and others have respectful memories of the caring disposition of a priest who managed to lighten the darkest paths of life in their midst and guide numerous pupils in their educational requirements.

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