Stella Maris expands its chaplaincy service in Europe

Deacon David Noval, National Director of Stella Maris Denmark

Stella Maris has expanded its ministry to seafarers and fishers in Europe with the start of chaplaincy services in Denmark from January.

Deacon David Noval has been appointed as National Director of Stella Maris’ Danish mission.

The launch comes at a time when the pastoral and welfare needs of seafarers are paramount amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in increasing isolation and time spent away from families, says Martin Foley, Stella Maris European Regional Coordinator.

“Now more than ever we need to be present and visible to seafarers and fishers, and while faced with restrictions due to the health crisis, our work supporting seafarers and fishers continue through ship gangway ministry and the use of digital media to support their faith and pastoral needs. This ability to provide a personal, human touch and take the Church to them remains fundamental to Stella Maris.” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, Pope Francis has on several occasions expressed the Church’s concern for seafarers and fishers. In December, the Holy Father voiced his concern for stranded seafarers affected by the crew change crisis brought about by Covid-19 restrictions and urged governments to do all they can to repatriate them. 

In June, he sent a video message of encouragement to seafarers, acknowledging the difficulties they face as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Pontifex also dedicated his prayer intention for the month of August to people of the sea, asking the faithful to pray for seafarers, fishers, and their families. 

David says ship and port visiting have already begun in Copenhagen, and the plan this year is to establish teams of ship visitors covering other ports in the country.

“Within the next five years we want to have chaplains based in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Danish archipelago, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands,” he said.

Denmark is the fifth largest maritime nation, with a merchant fleet of 65 million gross tonnes. The country has more than 400 islands and a total coastline of over 7,000 kilometres. Up to 75 percent of all imports to Denmark arrives by sea.

David was ordained a Deacon last August, having completed his formation in Oscott College in Birmingham, United Kingdom. He is a trained ambulance technician and firefighter. In recent years he worked as operation manager in a non-profit housing association and has worked in management and organisational development for 20 years, primarily in organisations with volunteers.

“I am very happy and grateful to have been given this assignment by Stella Maris,” says David. It’s an amazing mission that I look at with awe. The last time there was activity under Stella Maris in Denmark was in the 1960s and it was led by the priest who baptised me in 1970,” he said.

In Europe, Stella Maris has chaplaincy teams serving over 150 ports in 13 countries. Globally, the charity works in 326 ports in 56 countries and has over 1,000 chaplains and volunteers worldwide.

David can be contacted by e-mail: [email protected] and phone: +45 5032 3056.

* David has also been featured in publications in Denmark, such as Katolsk Orientering and Folketindende. You can read the English translation of the Katolsk Orientering article by clicking the pdf link below.