DISCERN – The Institute for Research on the Signs of the Times is a research institute forming part of the Archdiocese of Malta. DISCERN undertakes research on the signs of the times as they appear in Maltese society and the local Church, utilising the tools offered by the social sciences. DISCERN publishes research reports, holds public lectures, and provides the evidence necessary for the ecclesial community to better serve its mission. DISCERN was founded in 1993.
Board of Directors
Sue Vella currently heads the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Malta, where she lectures in social policy. Prior to joining University, Sue worked in senior management positions in the public sector, including the Employment and Training Corporation and Malta Enterprise, and was a member of various boards and committees. Sue was part of the EU’s Employment Committee for seven years and chaired its technical group during her final two years. She is also a Trustee of Richmond Foundation Malta. Her research and publication interests include poverty, families, housing, employment, social security and the voluntary sector.
Mr John Caruana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and Economics from Oxford University and an Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Warwick. He joined the Central Bank of Malta in 1991 and currently heads the department responsible for monetary policy & operations and relations with the Eurosystem. For many years, he lectured in monetary economics at the University of Malta and the Institute of Financial Services (Malta). He has written on financial liberalisation, fiscal policy and Economic and Monetary Union. John is married and has two children.
Prof Nadia Delicata is Episcopal Delegate for Evangelisation and Associate Professor in fundamental moral theology and Christianity and (digital) culture at the Department of Moral Theology, University of Malta. Nadia did her theological education at Regis College, the Jesuit theologate of the ecumenical consortium, the Toronto School of Theology, of the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is married and has three children.
Mary Anne Lauri
Prof Mary Anne Lauri studied Psychology at the University of Malta and at the London School of Economics. She joined the University of Malta in 1992 as a member of the Department of Psychology. Between 2006 and 2016, Mary Anne was appointed Pro-Rector in charge of Students and Staff Affairs. She authored several works published in both Maltese and international journals. In addition to her academic career, Mary Anne served on boards within the education, media and social welfare sectors. She is active in political organizations and NGOs.
Michael Pace Ross
Mr Michael Pace Ross is the Administrative Secretary of the Archdiocese of Malta, following his appointment by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna in 2015. He previously served as Director General of the National Statistics Office for six years, sitting on a number of national and European committees, including the European Statistical Advisory Committee (ESAC). He was appointed Census Officer by the Prime Minister in 2011. Michael is a non-executive director on APS Bank plc. He is also a Board member on the Voluntary Solidarity Fund, a charity which embraces core values inspired by the Catholic social teachings on solidarity.
Prof Edward Warrington is Associate Professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of Malta. He is a specialist on governance, public management and leadership in micro-states and islands. Edward is also an accredited retreat guide. In his spare time, he writes about colonial administrative history and travels off the beaten track
Dr Sue Vella
Prof Nadia Delicata
Mr Michael Pace Ross
Mr John Caruana
Mr Jean Paul Fabri
Prof Mary Anne Lauri
Prof Edward Warrington
Mr Luke J. Buhagiar
Chief Research Officer
Ms Delia Mifsud Inguanez
Ms. Graziella Grima
Luke J. Buhagiar
Chief Research Officer (2020-present)
Mr Luke J. Buhagiar is in the final stages of his PhD in social psychology (University of Malta) looking at Arab-Maltese relations from a social re-presentation perspective, and a part-time lecturer at the same institution. His research interests and publications converge around intergroup relations, the social psychology of argumentation and philosophical psychology. Luke is also interested in the negotiation of plural religious identities in post-modern milieus, and the often hidden and liminal varieties of religious experience.
Delia Mifsud Inguanez
Ms Delia Mifsud Inguanez graduated with a Masters in Sociology from the University of Malta. Her dissertation research consisted of a qualitative study about the needs of mothers in cohabitation, and the extent to which such needs function as discursive constructs. During the past 5 years at DISCERN, Delia worked on several research projects – mainly quantitative in nature – such as the Mass Attendance Census.
Ms Graziella Grima is Clerk at DISCERN. Her main activity at DISCERN is of an administrative nature and relates to the day-to-day running of the office. She also assists the researchers in various research projects carried out during the year, and takes part in the preparation of DISCERN’s yearly annual lectures.
Previous Executive Directors
Rev Dr Joe Inguanez (1943-)
Executive Director (2001-2019)
Rev Dr Joe Inguanez was educated at the Seminary, and the Royal University of Malta. He read for the degrees of Lic. Sc. Soc. at the Gregorian University (Rome), and for a Ph.D. at Goldsmiths College, University of London (UK). He was ordained a priest in 1970. He is a member of the International Sociological Association, British Sociological Association, the American Sociological Association, and the International Association of the Sociology of Tourism, and a former Head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Malta. He was also member of the Diocesan Priests Council and a member of the Diocesan Representative Council. He contributed to several chapters in books on the sociology of tourism and of church structures; and several articles to Journal Sociologica Urbana e Rurale. Current interests include sociological theory, especially Symbolic Interactionism and Phenomenology, the sociology of tourism, social change and development.
Rev Benjamin Tonna (1931-2001)
Executive Director (1993-2001)
Rev Benjamin Tonna was educated at the Lyceum, the Royal University of Malta, and the University of Louvain (Belgium). He read for the degrees of B.A. (Melit.), Lic. D. (Melit.), Lic. Sc. Politiques et Sociales (Louvain), and was ordained a priest in 1956. He was the founding director of Pastoral Research Services (1960), the Director for the Centre for the Coordination of Council Communications in Rome (1965), the Pastoral Secretary of the Archdiocese of Malta (1975), and Archpriest and Parish Priest of Rabat (1978-1991). He has written several books, and contributed several chapters in books and reports on sociology and pastoral ministry. In conjunction with Brian P. Hall, he developed a value analysis computer test called the Hall-Tonna Inventory (1986).