They put their cowl and cincture aside to be close to patients

The current pandemic has also affected the pastoral services given by the Capuchin Friars.

A Friar dressed in white clothes and seen entering the hospital, resembles more a doctor or a nurse.

Fr Bertrand Vella is not a nurse, neither a doctor but one of the three chaplains at Mater Dei hospital who care for the souls of patients. During this critical and difficult time, his pastoral work and that of the two other chaplains – Fr Mario Borg and Fr Elmar Pace – is that they spiritually assist workers and patients.

“We try to bring back the humanity, that smile and God’s presence which everybody needs to be near”, Fr Bertrand said.

Before the virus emergence in Malta, there were six Capuchin friars at Mater Dei, however three of them had to remain at the convent due to their elderly and vulnerable age.

In order not to risk colleagues and relatives, Fr Bertrand and the other two chaplains, made another difficult choice.
“We are staying here at the hospital, living here to be near patients and staff, as much as possible – that is we live, eat and sleep here”, Fr Bertrand said.

The three chaplains had to observe hospital’s regulations and restrictions. They removed their cowl and cincture and instead of doing rounds in wards, they are visiting patients, including those with Covid-19, only when they are called to assist.

Fr Bertrand said that although there is an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty at the hospital, he is sure that God is using doctors and nurses to deliver the treatment to all patients. “Some question where God is and why are we passing through this? I believe that yes God is with me and with God’s presence, nothing is against me, not even the same virus and I am relieved with the treatment and attention that is being given to our patients at Mater Dei”.

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