The Port of Tilbury was the unlikely meeting place between the Holy See and people of the sea during a visit by Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, the Pope’s ambassador to the United Kingdom on Tuesday, 29 May.
The 73-year-old American Archbishop spent time at the London Tilbury Seafarers Centre, then went on board two ships – Federal Lyra, a bulk carrier, and Gerda, a tanker – to meet crew members.
He spoke with the seafarers about their work and lives at sea and gave them a blessing from the Pope.
Archbishop Adams’ visit was organised by Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) whose port chaplain Wojciech Holub provides practical and pastoral support to seafarers arriving at Tilbury Port.
The Papal ambassador expressed his admiration for seafarers, saying "theirs is a life of sacrifice". He described them as "not only seafarers but craftsmen as well."
The crew of the ships, all Filipinos, were very happy when they found out who the Nuncio was and were delighted to receive the Pope’s blessing.
One of the crew members also asked for a blessing for his pregnant wife. Sadly he will miss the birth of his child because by the time his contract on board ends, the child would have been born.
We love the statue of Our Lady on the bridge of Federal Lyra. The crew call her ‘Mama Mary’ and they say she guides and protects them while they are at sea.
The Port of Tilbury is a major gateway to London and the South East and handles cargoes from cars to grain and household goods – all of which are transported on ships crewed by seafarers.
* More photos can be seen here. All photos copyright Marcin Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk