Fr. Tancred Sultana: Ave atque vale

With these three words from an ode by Catullus, one of my favourite Latin poets, I wish to salute a friend and helper in my history research, Fr. Tancred Sultana. I learnt through a Facebook post, that his funeral was held yesterday at his hometown of Hamrun.

I got to know Fr. Tancred at the Curia archives. He was highly computer literate and was always a great help. I can still remember him even in his early years when he was a vice-parish priest at the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Paola. I had no direct contact with him back then because we lived in the upper part of Paola and our parish was that of Christ The King. I think that was in the late seventies.

He had a jovial character with his typical sharp smile which expressed his wise and reflective mind. I still remember that when he was responsible for the altars boys at the parish of Lourdes, he had succeeded in having a larger number of altar boys than Christ The King. At that time, we were, at Christ the King, around sixty altar boys if not more.

As I eventually settled down in Marsaxlokk, Fr. Tancred used to recount to me his memories of this village, when in his youth, he did pastoral work in this locality. Life back then in Marsaxlokk was simple but it did not lack social problems. But most of his pastoral work was carried out in Gibraltar.

The news of his sudden death in Gibraltar, where he went to revisit his friends, came to me (and the rest of those who knew him) as surprise and a shock.

I will treasure his memory and will always remember him in my prayers. The good deeds done in life are never forgotten. Catullus meant the use of the words hail and farewell for Roman heroes. Fr. Tancred was an unsung hero in his own way.

Thank you Fr. Tancred for the friendship we shared.

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