The work of the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) work brings “great blessings, great comfort and great joy to the many who receive the ministry”, Bishop of Middlesbrough Bishop Terence Drainey has said.
Speaking at the end of Mass to mark the feast of Stella Maris, Our Lady Star of the Sea at St Mary’s Cathedral in Middlesbrough, Bishop Drainey thanked AoS’ port chaplains and ship visitors for the work they do supporting seafarers.
“[It is] a very quiet work, lots of people wouldn't know about it but such essential and important work,” he said.
Three port chaplains – Deacon Peter Barrigan, Anne McLaren and Steve Willows – and nine ship visitors from the North East of England region were commissioned at the Mass which was held on 19th September.
Monsignor Ronnie Brown, a former Royal Navy chaplain and AoS trustee, preached the homily in which he said, “We are an island nation and we depend very much on our seafarers… there are natural dangers from the weather from storms.”
He recounted the bravery of a Maltese crew on a merchant ship he sailed with that went through a storm.
Seafarers he continued “spend a long, long time away from home and they miss their families. They're months away from their families, they miss the joys of seeing their children grow up, making their first holy communion, making their first confession, or being confirmed.”
He added, “Also sadly, being away when one of their parents dies and so very often missing the funeral.”
Monsignor Brown said that seafarers’ time in port are limited, which is why we have AoS chaplains and ships visitors who can go to the ships and help the crews.
“Tonight we commission port chaplains and ship visitors…they are the Church's face to aid and assist seafarers.”
After Mass, a reception was held to thank AoS supporters, parishioners and the local community who have been very supportive of its work by making donations, knitting woolly hats and providing shoeboxes to give to seafarers during Easter and Christmas.
In the North East of England, AoS port chaplains and volunteers visit seafarers on ships at Tees, Hartlepool, Seaham, Sunderland, Blyth, Tyne, Hull, Goole, Immingham and Trent River.
* More photos can be seen on our Flickr site here.