Our Vice Chair of Trustees Captain Esteban Pacha was invited to pen an article in the March 2019 Edition of Stella Maris’ Spain National Bulletin about our Centenary Year 2020. Here is a roughly translated version of the original article which was in Spanish.
Stella Maris will return to the parish of St. Aloysius one hundred years after the foundation on October 4, 1920 of the Catholic Port Ministry in Glasgow, which unified the mission begun in the early twentieth century by the Jesuit Joseph Egger in the port suburbs, from the estuary of the River Clyde, along with Arthur Gannon and the Benedictine monk, writer and artist Peter Anson who was the first secretary of Stella Maris (then known as Apostleship of the Sea).
Subsequently, the Holy See sent to the Archbishop of Glasgow Donald Mackintosh formal recognition of Stella Maris through Letter from Secretary of State Cardinal Gasparri, dated April 22, 1922, transmitting the approval of Pope Pius XI to the work of religious assistance to the people of the sea, encouraging them to extend that mission across the oceans and coasts of both hemispheres.
These words proved to be prophetic, and 99 years later, the global network of Stella Maris is present today in 334 ports in 59 countries, with more than 1,000 chaplains and volunteers who visit 70,000 ships a year, providing practical and pastoral assistance to more than one million mariners.
To commemorate our Centennial, share experiences and advance our mission, the 25th World Congress of Stella Maris will be held in Glasgow from September 25 to October 4, 2020, bringing together the bishops promoters, national directors, chaplains, volunteers, fostering also a greater collaboration with the industry and the maritime and fishing sector, and contact with our beneficiaries from all over the world, under the presidency of Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Integral Human Development Service of the Vatican.
Under the conditions of modern international maritime trade, Stella Maris develops a proactive mission through visits on board ships during their short stays in port, allowing an on-site assessment of the needs of their crews, supported in numerous ports by modern centers. host for seafarers, ground transportation services, and practical and pastoral assistance.
From my own professional experience at sea and in the maritime sector, and now also collaborating in the governance of Stella Maris GB, I have experienced first-hand the difference that our chaplains and volunteers in life make to seafarers, fishermen and their families; and how in cases of crisis, our teams can provide well-being, vital help and support to those most in need.
Stella Maris GB is present in 61 ports in the United Kingdom and has a staff of 20 chaplains and with the collaboration of numerous volunteers who in 2018 visited 10,048 ships providing assistance to 221,000 seafarers, both on board those ships and in the various port centers.
From its headquarters in London, the Stella Maris GB team also provides practical, emotional and pastoral care to seafarers in crisis situations through the international coordination of visits to ships or the sending of chaplains on board, receiving an average of 2 weekly requests for assistance from anywhere in the world, either directly from seafarers in need or through the industry (shippers, P & I clubs, port authorities, etc.) who rely on the assistance offered by Stella Maris. This is a vital aid for crew and passengers on board ships that are far from their homes, that feel distressed or that are helpless in cases of crisis, illness or isolation.
Recently, the Governing Board of Stella Maris GB has adopted an international strategy with the objective of facilitating improved infrastructure and supporting the services of the global network of Stella Maris as a global mission of the Church. This international strategy identifies various mechanisms for its implementation through the development of capacities and projects to support other national Stella Maris at a global level, and proposes different actions such as the establishment of an International Committee to improve the global governance of the Stella Maris mission under the guardianship of the Dicastery for the Integral Human Development Service of the Vatican on which Stella Maris depends.
The Life at Sea report published in January 2019 by Stela Maris GB, shows how having a ‘friend in port’ is still of vital importance to seafarers, even in our modern technological era, and illustrates real cases of hospitalisation, harassment, stress and mental health of sailors, assaults on ships and piracy, non-payment of salaries and abandonment of seafarers, denial of the right of access to land, unhealthy working conditions on board or situations of slavery, accidents and deaths on board ships. (Read the report at https://www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk/life-sea-report)
Personal and individualised contact is unique and irreplaceable, and the mission of Stella Maris helps to alleviate loneliness and mental health problems in seafarers, contributing to the improvement of maritime safety and living conditions on board.
The Church of St. Aloysius in Glasgow hosts an image of the Virgin of Montserrat (popularly known as La Moreneta) donated in 2008. This image is located in the Altar of the Virgin of this parish that will receive the visit of the World Congress of the Apostolate of the Mar on the occasion of its Centennial on October 4, 2020.
Capt Esteban Pacha
Vice Chair of the Governing Body and Chair of the International Committee, Stella Maris GB