Canon Joe Meilak

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Can. Joe Mejlak was born in St George's Square, Victoria, Gozo on October 15, 1944 from Ġużeppi and Maryanne née Preca. He was the nephew of the renowned poet Mary Mejlak and the great-nephew of Jesuit lexicographer Joseph Meilak SJ, known as the founder of the Christ the King annual procession.

Through his mother, Can. Mejlak was a distant relative of St Ġorġ Preca. He attended the primary school of Victoria and later on entered the Sacred Heart Seminary to study theology in preparation for the priesthood.

He was ordained by Bishop Nikol Cauchi at the Żebbuġ parish church on June 23, 1973, celebrated his first solemn Mass at St George's Basilica on July 22, 1973 and was installed as canon of St George's collegiate parish church in July 1976.

Through his various writings of both poetry and prose, Can Mejlak slowly established himself as one of Gozo's most renowned poets. Among his published anthologies are Għanjiet ta' Qalbi (1977), Rwiefen (2004), Dejjem f'Qalbna (2005) and Narcis u Ġiżimin (2005).

Can Mejlak excelled also in the writing of drama; he wrote many plays to be executed on stage and other adaptations for the radio such as L-Akbar Ġrajja, Il-Martri ta' Lydda, L-Għarajjes Imwiegħda, Il-Qassis li Rebaħ and Rebbiegħa Bla Ward.

He also wrote lyrics for a good number of popular hymns, which are sung in various churches in Gozo among them Georgius Natus Est with musical score by Mro. Joseph Vella.

Can. Mejlak was made an honorary member of the Għaqda Poeti Maltin in 2007. Many plays of his were presented on the stage in the Oratorju Don Bosco or the Astra Theatre in Victoria and in other parishes around Gozo. Can Mejlak will also be remembered for his availability for hearing confession especially during the last few years when his health was deteriorating.

His funeral took place in St George's Basilica on December 19. It was presided over by Gozo Bishop Mario Grech; about 70 priests concelebrated at Mass. He was sadly missed by Consiglia Grech of Victoria, who looked after him during his illness, his sisters Rose and Doris, his brother George, his family and friends. among them his nephew Mgr Alfred Xuereb who is assistant-private secretary to Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.