Before migrating to Australia from Malta three years ago, Robert D’Amato learned from a friend that there was a Preca centre in Adelaide.
He wasted no time getting in touch with Preca Community leader John Micallef who introduced the family of four to other members and invited them to meetings.
In Malta there are Preca centres in almost every town and members provide children with preparation for their sacraments.
“Everyone in Malta has in some way or another been in contact with the Preca community at some stage of their lives,” Robert explained.
Both D’Amato children – Jake, 13, and Julia, 12, – attended catechism lessons at Preca centres in Malta before moving to Adelaide.
Robert and wife Lorraine are members of the Adelaide Hills parish but they make sure that every Friday evening is kept free to “pray and play” with the Preca Community.
Robert said that coming to live in a place where they had no family or friends meant that the Community had quickly become their second family.
“Our common heritage immediately connected us with all the Preca members and we consider them as our extended family,” he said.
“It was a good way for our family to continue practising and growing in our faith formation within a Catholic community enjoying similar values.”
He said the ‘Come and See’ program gave Jake and Julia the opportunity to meet like-minded children of their age.
“Occasionally our children bring along a classmate or a friend, introduce them to the Preca Community and spend some quality time together,” he said.
As well as Friday evening gatherings, there are other age-based Preca activities every Saturday and some Sundays, including picnics, movie outings, baking and mushroom picking.
Easter and Christmas are celebrated with prayer, pageants and parties, as are other feasts during the year, including that of St George Preca.
Each year, the Preca Community organises winter and summer retreats for families.
Robert said the children always looked forward to playing with their friends and parents after the short prayer sessions. ‘Dads and lads’ soccer matches were a highlight, he added.
Robert’s own Catholic upbringing and education in Malta has left a “big imprint” on his life.
“As I grew older, got married and had children, life commitments reduced my participation in Church to Sunday Mass and special occasions,” he said.
“Since we moved to Adelaide we have had the opportunity to get to know the Preca members and their mission on a different level.
“The commitment, dedication and devotion of the Preca members and their example by trying to live like Jesus wants us to live, has helped me personally to rekindle my devotion, giving it a different and deeper meaning to my faith.”
Acknowledging the challenge of children’s faith formation “with all the distractions around us”, he said the Preca Community has the “perfect recipe” with its blend of prayer, play, food and fun.
Sunita Miranda and Narayan Ramchandani were looking for a sacramental formation program for their son Jai, who was attending a public school, when they were directed to Preca by Fr Bill Brady MSC.
They were “introduced warmly” to the Preca Community and its ‘Come and See’ youth group based at Hindmarsh-Findon parish.
It was the beginning of a lasting friendship for the family which includes nine-year-old Aria as well as Jai, 16.
Sunita said the Preca Community enlivened the parish by activating programs that were “meaningful, faith-building and have good intentions”.
“The youth love the fellowship and the fun learning environment,” she said.
“I think the parish benefits greatly from this relationship, and we as a parish community are very grateful for the support that Preca offers our children and families.”
Asked how important Preca was to her children’s faith formation, Sunita said “oh my God, it is indescribable the gratitude we feel”.
“As insular families living in a highly secular world, where faith is hardly trendy, this support has been invaluable,” she said.
“The members of the Preca Community are the most genuine, unselfish Christians we know, and their mentorship of our young people is priceless.”
While Sunita was “blessed” to be raised in a God-loving Catholic home, with nurturing parents, particularly her father who had a deep influence on her faith formation, she said they were not your “typical Sunday-Mass Christians”.
“However, I believe our children have a deeper relationship with Jesus than I did at their age, and I attribute a lot of that to the relationship they have with the Preca Community,” she added.
“The Preca Community refreshes us in our busy-ness, it gives us a feeling of being cared for and loved, of being relevant.
“Equally, we are always willing to help the community when needed, it’s more like a family now, where we look after each other.
“The Preca spirituality is characterised by their meekness, their service to the community, and their daily striving for holiness. These have immensely helped our own spirituality and we find it resonates well with us.”
When the Cenchetty family started attending Our Lady of the Manger Church at Findon in 2014 their children Sahana and Christopher began participating in fun activities organised by the Preca members after Sunday Mass. Soon after they began attending the Friday youth groups and have been regular participants ever since.
Valan and Maria said the Preca community was very important to their family’s faith formation.
“They have helped all of us, especially our children, to grow in their Catholic faith and develop a deeper understanding of the Word of God,” Valan said.
Born in India to a Catholic family of six children, one of whom is a priest and a sister who is a nun, Valan said he always followed his parents and older siblings by learning from their teachings and being actively involved in the Church.
Trained as a catechist, he has become a Preca Associate and said this had helped his own faith formation.
“My children also learn and teach others about Christ,” he said, adding the youth have opportunities to conduct sessions for their peers, such as teaching them about a saint.
“To our family, being Preca companions means living out the Preca mission in our everyday lives – ‘to be holy as to inspire others to be holy’.
“If we realise the distractions that are keeping us busy and away from the Catholic Church and the community, then, we can avoid those distractions and prioritise our routine to spare more time to learn about God and our faith.
“The prime time of a child’s day is 3pm to 9pm and weekends, so if we bring them together as a Preca youth group, we give them an opportunity to find friends of the same faith and inspire each other positively.”
To find out more about the Preca Community and its youth programs, visit