The award ceremony was held on Friday 8 September at the Soup Kitchen’s own premises in Valletta, where MEP David Casa presented the prize medal to the Soup Kitchen’s founder and chairperson, Fr Marcellino Micallef.
“The Soup Kitchen OFM Valletta was a lifeline for those on the social periphery, and few are as deserving as Fr Micallef for upholding the human dignity of so many,” MEP Casa said. “The European Citizen’s Prize reminds us of our duty to act with his sense of social justice”.
Fr Micallef emphasised the value of a life of service and compassion, and the challenges society is facing.
“It has already been two years since we opened the doors of the Franciscan Soup Kitchen and we have offered not only material sustenance but various other services to more than 50,000 people,” he said.
“In our constant commitment at the Soup Kitchen, we are meeting people who have a name and a face. We are giving them a voice, listening to their story, learning from their experiences and trying to understand their needs. They are not pictures that move us for a while, but humans in flesh and blood, people we know, who are often treated as outcasts. Material wealth makes a lot of noise, but the voices of those living in poverty are being silenced”.
The Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta, Dr Mario Sammut, commended Fr Micallef and his team of volunteers for selflessly dedicating themselves to others, giving dignity and value to anyone who comes their way. He described the Soup Kitchen as the embodiment of the good values of solidarity and integration which the Citizen’s Prize seeks to promote.
This award ceremony constituted the national arm of the annual European Citizen’s Prize. The prize is given each year to initiatives originating in each EU member state. National winners from across the EU will also be celebrated at the European Parliament in Brussels in the European ceremony held on 7 November.
Awarded every year, the European Citizen's Prize goes to projects organised by people or organisations that encourage mutual understanding and closer integration between people in the EU, as well as cross-border co-operation that builds a stronger European spirit, and the promotion of European values and fundamental rights. People, groups or associations can apply with a project for the European Citizen’s Prize or nominate a third-party project. MEPs can also submit nominations.