Reverend Colin Westmarland – a man of the people

213 | Jannar 2023

“What a special person Colin was! I remember him wearing a broad-brimmed hat sitting behind his pony and xarretta which he kept at Marsa. He wanted to explore all of Malta, and he couldn’t afford a car. He later used a bicycle and then a succession of motor-bikes. He also walked for pleasure. He liked people, from all walks of life.

Reverand Colin arrived in Malta in 1975; an Englishman who had originally studied Science at St Andrew’s University, Scotland, before changing to Theology. He was ordained Minister of the Church of Scotland and after a few years he came out to Malta, appointed for three years. In the end he stayed at St. Andrew’s Scots Church, Valletta, for 28 years, till his retirement in 2003!

On his arrival he was confronted by a challenge. The Methodist Church in Floriana had been requisioned, and had nowhere to meet. It seemed sensible to combine both Churches as, after the British Forces had slowly left, the congregations had dwindled. Combing two churches with different traditions was not plain sailing; but as the years passed by the congregation grew. The powers that be had expected the churches to probably close, but a dedicated man of God was not in Malta to see that. He was a powerful preacher teaching the Gospel through the Bible and Christian hymns, and through vivid stories from his travels that illustrated the work of Jesus in human lives.

He was available for anyone at almost any time. He would do whatever he could to help out, quietly visiting St Luke’s hospital every Wednesday morning for weeks to sit beside a friend’s 18 year old daughter, who was being treated for serious head injuries.

He was responsible for encouraging the German Lutherans  to start a permanent congregation here after many more Lutherans came to Malta after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He offered an unused floor of St Andrew’s House to become their church. There is a sense in which he became the midwife of our German speaking St Andrews’ Gemeinde.

It is not surprising therefore that Colin became one of the founders of the Ecumenical Council together with Fr Maurice Eminyan s.j., and did much to foster understanding with local clergy. He also belonged to the Order of St Lazarus and chaplain for the Royal Navy.

Colin lived a very frugal lifestyle, as evidenced by his early flat in Valletta and his later one in Birgu. He said that his vocation was to preach the Gospel not to live in luxury. When he travelled, particulary after his retirement, he ventured into unusual places – desert monasteries and churches of many traditions, staying in guesthouses and basic accomodation.

Above all, he was available for people until his death last year.

Colin passed away peacefully on the 26th September 2022 at Mater Dei Hospital. His interment took place at Ta’ Braxia Cemetry on Tuesday 4th October 2022.

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