Malteser Hilfsdienst, the Order of Malta’s relief corps in Germany, has celebrated its 70 years of activity. To commemorate this important milestone, thousands of members, volunteers and supporters met in Cologne for an extensive programme of events.
On Saturday afternoon, the highlight of the celebration was the Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of Cologne by the auxiliary Bishop Ansgar Puff: “Thank God the Order of Malta exists,” the bishop began in a crowded cathedral, explaining how “numerous people await your support and many rely on your closeness”.
Present in the cathedral, together with the leaders of the German Association, represented by President Erich Lobkowicz and by Malteser Hilfsdienst, with President Georg Khevenhueller, and Vice-President Daisy Bernstorff, was the Grand Hospitaller, Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis: “I admire the participants’ enthusiasm and how they perform their service in the best possible manner. The involvement of young people eager to help others is an aspect that reveals the Order of Malta’s generosity in Germany and in the world”.
The great “challenge” involved teams of volunteers from emergency and school health services and young ‘Maltesers’ who offered practical first-aid demonstrations in the streets of downtown Cologne. It was carried out in an atmosphere of genuine involvement and cooperation among the Order of Malta’s central institutions, volunteers and various fields of activity. In previous days, there had been several seminars in which the future of Malteser Hilfsdienst was discussed – how to remain one of the most renowned and efficient voluntary organisations? How to convince people to choose and support the Order of Malta in the future?
In other workshops, such as Wohnen & Pflegen (Living & Care) medical and paramedical staff shared best experiences in social and health care training, also providing updates on palliative care. Malteser Auslandsdienst, a volunteering service abroad, also met to discuss humanitarian aid provided in the past and how to continue in the future. A meeting of the board of Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s international relief agency, also attended by the Grand Hospitaller, assessed and renewed support for the latest crises, from the war in Ukraine to the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and the recent earthquake in Morocco.
A great party with over 1800 participants concluded the week of celebrations.