“Be sure to ask me again”.
These were Fr John Lumley’s parting words as Deacon Peter Barrigan, Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) Tees Port Chaplain dropped him off at St Gabriel’s presbytery, after he had celebrated Mass on board ship for the first time.
The visit to Teesport was somewhat more poignant for Fr John, as he had celebrated Mass in the general area where his own father had earned his living, having spent his working life at Smiths Dock and the nearby steel works.
As soon as the general cargo ship ‘IYO Sea’ had berthed, Hugh and Mary Ward, volunteer ship visitors with AoS climbed the gangway to bring the warm smile and outstretched hand of welcome to the 22 Filipino crewmembers on board.
They also met the ship’s Master, Captain Elemia Roel Araneta who asked if they could arrange for Mass to be celebrated on the ship during their stay.
This request was passed on to Deacon Peter who then contacted Fr John who readily agreed to celebrate Mass the following evening.
This was the in the first few days of Lent so Fr John carefully chose the Mass of Ash Wednesday during which, much to their delight, all the crewmembers received the ashes.
After Mass Fr John gave each of the seafarers a copy of Mark’s Gospel, and blessed various religious items for them, while Mary and Hugh gave rosary beads to all.
This was followed by the customary hospitality, in this case pizza and coffee, and an opportunity for the visitors to chat to crewmembers, some of whom were visiting the UK for the first time.
Captain Elemia remarked how spiritually uplifting the Mass had been for himself and his crew.
Before leaving, a supply of chocolate, generously paid for by Fr John and the parishioners of St Gabriel’s, was distributed, again much to the delight of the crewmembers.
The ‘IYO Sea’ was in port for a few days so Deacon Peter and his AoS team were able to assist with other practical needs including trips to the supermarket.
One seafarer also had a visit from a family member who lives in Southampton. The ship subsequently sailed to Murmansk.
The Apostleship of the Sea receives tremendous support from several local parishes, as demonstrated by Fr John and members of his flock, who also give so generously at Christmas and attend the annual AoS Pilgrimage to Holy Island (which this year is to be held on Saturday 2nd June). See details here.