EUGENIO BORG (1886 - 1967)
First Superior General of the Society of Christian Doctrine
Eugenio Borg, affectionately known as "Gege" by his fellow workers and by the members of the Society of Christian Doctrine, was born in Senglea on 24 July 1886. Later on during his childhood his family moved to Hamrun. It was here that he came in contact with George Preca, a close neighbour, still at that time a young teenager.
Very little is known of Eugenio as a child. At the age of sixteen, he enrolled as an apprentice at the HMS Dockyard where he learned the skill of a pattern maker, a career which he followed up to his retirement at the age of 57.
After working hours, Eugenio, like others of his age, used to meet with his friends in a field near the Hamrun Parish Church. They entertained themselves to a few jokes, football matches and cigarettes. Eugenio was, in fact, a very heavy smoker. It was on one such occasion, in 1906, that George Preca, then aged 26 years and studying for the priesthood, visited them for the first time.
Deacon George Preca talked to those carefree youths about the Passion of Jesus. Preca’s words slowly impressed them. They became his friends, and convinced him to visit them often, a wish which Fr Preca did not reject. So, regularly, they used to meet together for football, jokes, chats and also spiritual reflections which George Preca was more than pleased to share with these young people. Fr George Preca was ordained a priest in December 1906. His young friends thought that they would never see him again: they could never image how a priest could share their jokes and soil his black cassock in their field! But Fr Preca did join them again, and that sealed their friendship.
After some weeks, Fr Preca asked Eugenio to accompany him the next Sunday afternoon for a walk in the nearby countryside. He told him to bring with him some bread and cheese, an onion and some wine, together with a Bible! In preparation for that Sunday encounter, Eugenio bought his first Bible, in English of course, since none existed in Maltese.
On that decisive Sunday afternoon, Fr Preca met Gege as they had agreed. They left off to the nearby area of Santa Venera, still largely unbuilt in those early days of the century. They made their way to a field overlooking Msida valley. There they passed an hour or so, in Bible study, especially on St John’s Gospel. Gege was as yet very shallow in his religious knowledge, but Fr Preca passed on his study and reflections on the Bible in a very persuasive manner. He was slowly forming the mind and heart of Eugenio for those Sunday meetings went on regularly. Later on in life, Eugenio was to refer to these meetings and rightly claim that they were the beginning of the Society of Christian Doctrine. God was planting and nourishing in him that first seed which had yet to grow and blossom.