Malteser relief service – 60 years of “believe and help” in Lower Franconia

The beginnings
It was a sign from God – that’s what the now deceased “founding father” of the Malteser in the Diocese of Würzburg, Richard-Franz Freiherr von Bechtolsheim, was always happy to tell when it came to the beginnings of the Malteser in Lower Franconia in the early 1960s. Young people from various parishes in Würzburg had the idea of ​​launching the Catholic aid organization on the Main. Ten years earlier, the Malteser Federal Association had been founded in Cologne by the Order of Malta and the German Caritas Association and had made a name for itself with large medical services, first-aid courses and training in civil protection. The enthusiasm about the combination of “believe and help”, which is laid down in the motto of the Order of Malta, quickly broke ground, and by the 10th anniversary there were already over 30 branches in Lower Franconia. Many of these often very small groups could not survive over the decades. Today, the Malteser in Lower Franconia has 16 city and local associations with around 2,500 volunteers and 1,200 full-time employees.

The development
It was pioneering work, what the first volunteers did full of vigor and enthusiasm for the Malteser – initially of course in the classic services such as training, rescue and medical services and disaster control. The school transport service for children with disabilities, the menu service and later the house emergency call were soon added. “But we Malteser see in our society people with needs of body and soul,” says the current diocesan leader Hans-Georg von Mallinckrodt. Therefore, in Lower Franconia, mainly on the initiative of the diocesan superior Martina Mirus, so-called “quiet” services were started in the 1980s, above all the “12 times 8 campaign”, a predecessor of today’s visiting service for lonely and old people . This resulted in the accompanying service for people with dementia in the hospital, the visiting service with dogs, the Corona shopping service and the shopping bus, in which volunteers drive senior citizens to go shopping.

Photo: Malteser Hilfsdienst | The Malteser relief service in Lower Franconia

The pioneers
“When we ran the first preparatory course for hospice workers in 1991, we were exotic and the other Maltese looked at us in amazement,” Martina Mirus recalls of the beginnings of the hospice work. She had to overcome a lot of resistance and do a lot of convincing. 30 years later, the more than 300 volunteers who accompany the dying and the bereaved are an accepted and recognized part of the diocesan Maltese family. Stefan Dobhan believes that it is therefore normal for the Lower Franconian Maltese to always break new ground. In the last few years alone, so many new things have emerged: the school support service for children and young people with disabilities who want to go to a regular school started in 2011. The integration service for people with refugee experience began in 2016. The child palliative care team for children with life-shortening illnesses started work in 2017 and the first drive of the heart’s desire ambulance, with which the Maltese people fulfill a last wish at the end of their lives, has also been taking place since 2017.

The future
“We will keep spelling out our Malteser motto ‘preserving the faith and helping those in need’ in a new and modern way with a view to the needs of the time,” the diocesan instructions agree. But adequate equipment and training in the core areas of civil protection is still important, especially when you consider the commitment to the flood disasters of recent years or recently in the Ukraine aid. Hans-Georg von Mallinckrodt, Martina Mirus and Stefan Dobhan see the diocesan association in a good position, especially since there is also a very active Malteser youth and many school medical services in Lower Franconia: “There will always be committed Malteser who meet the needs of the people with full commitment, and hopefully there will always be people who support us morally and financially.” Because otherwise this world would be a little poorer: poorer in humanity, poorer in charity.

Maltese relief service – contact

Maltese relief service in Lower Franconia
diocesan office
Mainaustr. 45
97082 Würzburg

Phone: 0931/4505-222

Donation account:
IBAN DE27 3706 0120 1201 2220 16

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