The Project

In a pluralistic and diverse society, it is important for Third Country Nationals (TCNs) and migrants to understand the prevalent values and belief systems in their host country. Likewise, professionals working in sectors such as education, medicine and social well-being need to be equipped to understand the requirements particular to migrants and TCNs. These particular needs, of which professionals may remain unaware, often originate from a person's cultural and religious background.

This research is the basis of this two-year project, aptly titled 'Living Together: Towards Understanding Each Other's Culture', which aims to develop data, training and resources, including a series of educational sessions, a handbook and audio-visual media intended to give essential information about the beliefs, customs, religious etiquette and practices of the various religious and faith traditions currently found in Malta. This research will gather data about the difficulties experienced during the process of integration in Malta especially with relation to educational, health care and social care settings. It will also gather information from professionals within these sectors to understand the needs and questions related to the different ethical issues and religious issues that TCNs may experience.

Designed by

Our Team

Prof. Adrian-Mario Gellel

Supervisor and Leader of the Project

Prof. Adrian-Mario Gellel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education (Faculty of Education) and in the Department of Pastoral Theology, Liturgy and Canon Law (Faculty of Theology). His main areas of interest are Symbol Literacy, Child and Adolescent Spirituality, Religious Education and meeting individual differences in the classroom. His academic interests led him to convene the International Conference on Children’s Spirituality (2005), the International Conference EARLI SIG19 Religious and Spiritual Education Conference (2011), the International Conference on Catholic Religious Education (2018) and the International Association for the Study of Youth ministry European Bienale (2018). Between 2009 and 2011 he served as a Theological Advisor to The Center of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescents, Minnesota, USA. Between 2011 and 2016 he acted as external Ph.D examiner and External Programme reviewer for Dublin City University, Waterford Institute and the Australian Catholic University. He developed and coordinated the Master of Arts in Youth Ministry and the Master of Education in Symbol Literacy. Among other, during his term of office he coordinated and led the publication of the consultation policy document Religious Education in Malta: Reflections by the Catholic Community. In 2017 he has been appointed Honorary Fellow at the Australian Catholic University.

Dr. Zoi Arvanitidou

Research Support Officer

Dr. Zoi Arvanitidou holds a Ph.D. in Folklore, Gender and Fashion, an M. Ed. in Gender and the new Educational and Working Environments of the Information Society, a BA in Studies in Greek Civilization and a BA in Fashion Design. She is also a certified trainer and examiner for vocational training. She is skilled and experienced in adult education and training, information and communication technologies in education and training, fashion design, folklore, fashion and gender analysis, qualitative research and surveying, sociology, social and gender identity. On top of the above, she also has numerous personal and team publications in proceedings’ volumes and journals related to gender, identity, dressing, subcultures, and education as well as two published books on Fashion Design.

Mrs Christine Rossi

Research Support Officer

Christine Rossi holds a Masters in Theology. She has always been interested in the field of migration, since her studies in psychology and her thesis on the experience of loss of refugees. She supported the work of the Jesuit Refugee Services voluntarily and for a while was the country coordinator for the European Website on Integration.

Mr Julian Galea

Research Support Officer

Julian Galea graduated in Youth and Community studies, exploring the lived experience of young Maltese atheists in his dissertation, continuing his postgraduate studies in Counselling with a dissertation on intercultural sense-making within therapeutic relationships. He has participated in several community-building initiatives with various stakeholders from the voluntary and state sectors. His interests include the role of culture, spirituality and religion in individual and collective social participation, the development and expression of shared value systems and the role of metaphor in sense- and meaning-making.

Our Partners

The Diocesan Ecumenical Commission of the Archdiocese of Malta was founded in 1977 by Mgr Joseph Mercieca, Archbishop of Malta. It is responsible for establishing and strengthening ecumenical relations between the Roman Catholic Church in Malta and other Christian Churches and Traditions. It collaborates actively with “Christians Together in Malta” (Malta Ecumenical Council) in the organisation of the Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, other Ecumenical Services and other common initiatives on a social, spiritual and doctrinal dimension.

The Diocesan Ecumenical Commission seeks to create a greater ecumenical awareness among Catholics in Malta by encouraging formation in this field on a diocesan and parish level.

Furthermore, the Commission is in close contact with the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity of the Holy See.

The Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, founded on 2nd March 2011, aims at establishing ties between the Catholic Church in Malta and non-Christian communities in Malta. One of the principal aims of the Commission is that of contributing towards the formation of the Roman Catholic community in Malta to better recognize its mission in a society, which is becoming increasingly more multi-ethnic and multi-religious. This is achieved through activities in which Roman Catholics in our country acquire a deeper knowledge of the doctrine and morals of the religions present in our country as well as respond to these new challenges. The Commission also participates in interreligious activities that take place periodically here in Malta.

A symbol literacy approach aims at facilitating a balance between knowledge and wisdom, between knowing and thinking, between competence and being. It also helps the individual to maintain a balanced and healthy relationship with time and space. Symbol literacy actively and consciously promotes the concept that learning best occurs in an active engagement with others and with the environment, since learning is not a solitary activity. Artefacts, including semiotic artefacts, such as art, narratives and rituals,  hold a key position in this process. What is particular to a symbol literacy approach is the deliberate intent to help individuals interact with artefacts and the bygone community that had produced it. It is an approach that favours a process of retrieval of the meaning that had been generated in the past and is now fading. In and through such a process one hopes to stimulate the development of higher mental functions that foster meaning making.