About Us

DISCERNThe 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

Dr Sue Vella
Prof Nadia Delicata
Mr Michael Pace Ross
Mr John Caruana
Mr Jean Paul Fabri
Prof Mary Anne Lauri
Prof Edward Warrington

Research Team

Mr Luke J. Buhagiar
Chief Research Officer
Ms Delia Mifsud Inguanez
Ms. Graziella Grima
Patricia Bonello
Chief Research Officer (2022-present)
Delia Mifsud Inguanez
Researcher (2016-present)

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 years at DISCERN, Delia worked on several research projects – mainly quantitative in nature – such as the Mass Attendance Census.

Alessia Camilleri
Research Officer (2021-present)

Ms Alessia Camilleri is Research Officer at DISCERN. She graduated with an M.Sc. in Psychological Studies at the University of Malta and her thesis focused on the accessibility of work-family benefits of workers in Malta. With DISCERN, she worked on several research projects, including the research on the Views on Catholicsm.

Graziella Grima
Clerk (2017-present)

Ms Graziella Grima is Clerk at Discern. She takes care of administrative duties and the day-to-day running of the office. Graziella also assists the researchers in various research projects carried out during the year, and takes part in the preparation of Discern’s annual lectures.

Previous Executive Directors

Rev Dr Joe Inguanez (1943-2023)
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).

Ms Ruth D'Amato
Ms Astrid Miller
Sr Antonietta Attard
Mr John Caruana
Ms Mary Rose Camilleri
Prof Mary Anne Lauri