The Vatican Bishop for seafarers Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, from Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) celebrated Mass for and visited crew of the P&O Cruises ship MV Azura on Thursday 28th July, when it docked in Civitavecchia, near Rome.
At the beginning of his visit Bishop Joseph presented Captain Derek Gray with the Apostleship of the Sea Crest.
He celebrated Mass in the ship’s The Playhouse theatre, where a large number of the ship’s crew attended.
In a deeply personal homily urged seafarers to live their lives in a Christ-like way.
He reminded the crew they should live their lives according to the example of Jesus, who never condemns but always offers the opportunity to change and to be saved.
“Living together for several months in the restricted space of this vessel, it is inevitable that we tend to compare ourselves with friends and crew mates. Often, when something goes wrong at work, or in our personal lives, we immediately tend to point the finger at someone else as an excuse to justify and protect ourselves,” he said.
“As God gives a chance to improve ourselves, let us do the same with our friends and crew mates. Let us not judge and condemn them, but give them the opportunity to change."
Bishop Joseph added, “I am sure that if you adopt this attitude, your living together on this vessel will improve, and an atmosphere of understanding and support will make your lives less stressful.”
Fr Bruno Ciceri, AoS Rome, Fr Paulo Prigol, AoS port chaplain in Manila concelebrated Mass and Rev Roger Stone, AoS Port Chaplain in Southampton was also present.
At the end of Mass Bishop Joseph blessed numerous sacred images belonging to the crew.
Among them was a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that a crew member had bought in Fatima which he will give to the Catholic school in Mumbai where his daughter is studying.
After Mass, Bishop Joseph, who is Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, which coordinates the global activities of AoS, distributed rosaries, prayers booklets and Year of Mercy prayer cards to the crew and had lunch with them in the crew mess.
Roger said this visit underlined the Catholic Church’s unique care for seafarers through its network of port chaplains around the world and those that sail on P&O Cruises ships as cruise chaplains.
He said the unique partnership between P&O Cruises and Apostleship of the Sea is greatly valued by crew, who know the chaplain is someone they can turn to for pastoral, emotional and spiritual support.
More photos can be seen here.
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