Aging can be feared, liked or temporarily ignored, all at one and the same time. You grow older, you retire from work, you end up with much less energy and you can easily end up in a vicious cycle where everything around you starts bothering you. The worst possible scenario I envisage is that of becoming a cynic! Every initiative taken up by the younger generations is never good, because you would be quick to say that it has already been tried and tested in your own time and it did not work! Another great danger is that of feeling superior simply because you ‘have the experience’!

Then again you can also perceive age as an opportunity, as a mature stage in life, as a time when finally you can cross out more items from your bucket list! Towards the end of my career and towards the early years of my retirement, I went abroad quite a few times, with my favourite destinations remaining the Swiss Alps and the Black Forest in Germany.

I cannot say that old age has offered any significant obstacle to my vocation.

To be fair, most probably my age baffled my own superiors who had to take the difficult decision whether to accept this 62-year-old pensioner as a seminarian.

Some decisions taken by my superiors helped me considerably. As was the case with ‘mature seminarians’ before me, at first, they thought of actually sending me to Beda College in Rome. Fortunately, however, the decision to study at the University of Malta prevailed. I was thus able to live with my family and follow a special program of studies at the Seminary as designed by the Rector. This meant that I could still help out my children in their daily lives. Meanwhile, I built stronger relationships with the parish priest and community of Ħal Safi. They accompanied me throughout my vocational journey. At the Seminary I also built relationships with the other seminarians with whom I will definitely be sharing a lot of future pastoral duties. I cannot but simply be grateful towards the way my formators, the Seminary, the seminarians and especially the other colleagues in my year group continued to provide me with wonderful examples of spirituality, as they shared their journey with me.  They made me feel quite at home despite the fact that I was somewhat different in a number of aspects. This helped me immensely.

Tony Pace – [email protected]