Originally the Royal University Students’ Theological Association, the Għaqda Studenti tat-Teoloġija was formally founded in 1945. However, recent research has shown that this Association was in fact a spin-off from an earlier society called ‘Ċirkolu ta’ Studju bejn l-Istudenti tal-Kors Akkademiku tat-Teoloġija’ whose first meeting was held on the 21st of December 1942 at St Joseph’s Institute at Ħamrun.
The main aim of this circle was to train its members, then twenty-one, to think and discuss problems and issues concerning the Church and religion within the local context. The seminar in this very first meeting concerned private property.
Minutes of the first meeting of the ‘Ċirkolu ta’ Studju bejn l-Istudenti tal-Kors Akkademiku tat-Teoloġija’ signed by the then President Renato Cirillo and Secretary Carmelo Sant.
Three years later, on the 3rd of November 1945, all the students of the Faculty of Theology with the permission of the secretary of the Royal University of Malta met to found the Royal University Students’ Theological Association. The first president was Rev. Renato Cirillo, and Carmelo Sant, later a major Maltese biblical scholar, was elected secretary. The aims of the newly founded Association were the promotion of theological studies, the enhancement of relationships between the Association and other similar bodies in Malta and abroad, together with the protection and advancement of its members’ interests. Today, the Għaqda Studenti tat-Teoloġija is above all else at the service of its members: the students reading theology at any level at the University of Malta. Two out of the seven members of the executive committee represent all their fellow students at the Faculty Board meetings to express their opinions, help them in their difficulties and sort out their problems. Apart from this, from time to time, the Association organizes social, academic and philanthropic activities. The major among these is the annual academic evening in honour of St Thomas Aquinas, patron of the Faculty of Theology, started in 1944. For this academic evening, international scholars are invited to deliver lectures on various areas linked to theology. Another popular activity, not as old as the Aquinas Evening, is the annual Christmas Campaign started in 2001 and adopting the name ‘Make my House a Home’ the following year. The aim of this campaign is to encourage theology students to work together for a good cause, namely collecting funds for the Diocesan Preventive Care Unit. A further aim is to involve all the University students to contribute in one way or another for a more just society. Għ.S.T. was the pioneer among other Maltese student organisations to publish its own scientific review, christened Melita Theologica, the first number of which was issued in 1947 with the sole initiative of the then Royal University Students’ Theological Association’s committee members. Later, in 1980, Melita Theologica became a joint venture between the Faculty of Theology and the Association. The articles published in it treat subjects such as dogmatic, moral and biblical theology, philosophy and ecclesiastical history. It was also one of the pioneer reviews in Malta to start presenting essays on social sciences. Following an agreement signed on the 2nd of March 2012, Melita Theologica became the official peer-reviewed journal of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Malta, published jointly by the Faculty of Theology, the Theology Students Association and the Foundation for Theological Studies. Logos is another publication of the Association. It is yet another means by which the Association reaches its members and encourages them to publish their own views on current affairs. As from 2012, on the tenth anniversary of such an initiative, the Association has revamped the publication into a website: zuntier.com Another annual appointment is the Foundation Day commemoration. This is very aptly celebrated by a thanksgiving mass followed by a seminar and a social activity at the Archbishop’s Seminary at Rabat, where the Faculty survived for ten years (1978-1988) due to political issues. Over sixty years after its foundation, the Għaqda Studenti tat-Teoloġija is still actively involved in campus life. Proud of its glorious past, the Association looks to the future to continue serving the students venturing in the study of theology in the best possible way. To view the complete list of past executive members of the Association click Past-GħST-Executive-Members4.xlsx (229).
A notice issued on the 3rd of November 1945 for the meeting held on the Association’s Foundation Day.