Abela, Joseph (23.11.1931-15.3.1991)

Author and broadcaster

Abela was born in Zabbar and emigrated to Australia in 1952 where he founded the Society of Christian Doctrine and remained its director for some 17 years. He entered a Catholic seminary and was ordained priest at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne in 1960. For ten years he worked hard within the Maltese community in Carlton and the western suburbs of Melbourne. He then left the priesthood and proceeded to Louvain where he obtained his Ph.D. from Louvain University magnum cum laude.

Abela joined the Department of Education of Monash University as lecturer and research fellow and, in 1981, as co-ordinator of Maltese language courses at the Phillip Institute (Melbourne).

Abela was a pioneer in the promotion of Maltese language and culture in Australia. He was the prime mover in ensuring that Maltese was accepted by the Victorian Institute of Secondary Education and included as a Higher School Certificate subject. He also introduced Maltese as a subject in the BA degree course in multicultural studies at the Phillip Institute. He was chairperson of the Maltese panel on the National Accreditation for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) and also a member of the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs.

Abela started the Maltese Literature Group in Victoria and was very active in the field of broadcasting in Maltese on the Maltese language programme of Radio 3ZZ and, later, Radio 3EA.

Abela is the author of several books in Maltese and English on poetry, philosophy, and Maltese language, including Tlitt Iqlub (1953), Hawn Min Iridek (1957), Driegh ma' Driegh (1971), Meta Jofroq il-Bahar (1983), Siltiet (1984), and Irjieh (1986).

In 1988 Abela was honoured with a citation from the Maltese government for his splendid and rewarding efforts beyond the call of duty to promote the Maltese language and culture in Australia.

Abela, who had married Carol Parkes, a qualified nurse and a doctor of laws, died in Australia.

Source: Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century (1997), editors Michael J. Schiavone and Louis J. Scerri

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