Mizzi, Maximilian (28.10.1930-)

Founder, Franciscan Ecumenical Centre and Inter-Religious Movement, Assisi

Born at Vittoriosa, Mizzi joined the Franciscan Minors Conventuals in 1946 and studied at the Franciscan seminaries in Rabat and Valletta. In 1952 he continued his theological studies at the Franciscan Theology College of Padua. He was ordained priest in 1955. Between 1955 and 1959 he served in pastoral work at Valletta, St Paul's Bay, and Victoria, Gozo.

Mizzi was appointed master of novices in Assisi (1959-71). In 1960 he established his first ecumenical contacts with non-Catholic pilgrims to Assisi. In 1972 he founded the Centro Francescano di Apostolato Ecumenico of which he was the director. As a consequence of Mizzi's ecumenical and inter-religious activities the Order of the Friars Minors Conventual set up in Assisi the Centro Francescano Internazionale per il Dialogo and Mizzi was elected general delegate for ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue.

As director of this international centre for ecumenism and inter-religious activities, Mizzi participated in several international conventions for ecumenism. He was responsible for the first celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Peace at Assisi in October 1986, which was called by Pope John Paul II. He had also participated at the religious summit meeting at Japan in 1987, the global forum of spiritual and parliamentary leaders on human survival held at several different countries during the last decade, and the World Conference on Religious Peace' held in Australia in 1989 and in Italy in 1994. He also organized the parliament of the world's religions in the USA (1993), two international seminars organized by UNESCO in Spain (1993 and 1994), and the 16th International Conference on Human Unity in India (1996).

As a result of his engagements in the ecumenical field, Mizzi met John Paul II; the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family, George Bush and Bill Clinton; Yasser Arafat; Mother Teresa; the Dalai Lama; Mikhail Gorbachev; the Royal Family of Sweden, and other personalities.

In 1976 Mizzi received from Pope Paul VI a silver medal for his ecumenical work among young people; in 1987 he was presented with the Cross of St Augustine by Dr Robert Runcie, head of the Anglican Church, for his outstanding work in promoting union between the Catholic and Anglican Churches.

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

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