Stella Maris Chaplains’ Diary… January to March, 2021

Rev. Doug Duncan with two Filipino seafarers onboard a survey vessel at the Port of Aberdeen (warm clothing gifts included!)

Stella Maris chaplains have been as busy as ever, helping seafarers at ports across the country.


Ports: Ipswich and Felixstowe… Julian Wong, Regional Port Chaplain for East Anglia and Haven Ports, recently delivered ‘Mi-fi’ devices (small, wireless devices that let multiple users share a mobile broadband internet connection) to seafarers on-board ‘Arklow Rebel’ and ‘IJBorg’, docked at Ipswich, who found them very helpful and were very appreciative of them. In fact, the Filipinos used up all of their allowance in one day mainly by downloading movies, to help keep them entertained during the months ahead at sea!

On the morning of Palm Sunday, Julian called at St. Mark’s Church in Ipswich to pick up the Palm Crosses which had been blessed. He delivered them to ‘Ever Glory’ (not the one blocking the Suez Canal!) and ‘MSC Katie’ at Felixstowe Port, as well as crew members on-board ‘IJBorg’, at Ipswich Port.

Port: Southampton… Southampton Regional Port Chaplain, Charles Stuart, recently collected some items knitted items from a dedicated supporter, Rebecca, to deliver to seafarers on one of his upcoming visits. After the visit, Charles wrote to Rebecca, thanking her for the items. This is what he had to say to her:

I was able to deliver to ships in the Port of Southampton within an hour of receiving them and made a point of telling the recipients of their origin.  Apart from being a really practical gift, I said they are a symbol of the high regard which so many in this country hold for seafarers and the sacrifices they make for us… I had long chats with these guys… (one of them) is a lovely Filipino AB (Able seaman) who told me he had been onboard since September 2019!  I asked him in detail how he was getting on and he appeared in good shape despite his great feat of endurance.  He hopes to go home in April to his wife and eight-year-old daughter. So you see, your kind work means a lot to people of the sea.  Many thanks for keeping seafarers in mind.

Port: Aberdeen… Earlier in March, Rev Doug Duncan, Port Chaplain for Aberdeen, reported that several seafarers had approached him and said that they would like to be able to receive the Sacrament of Confession before Easter. Furthermore, time was of the essence, since the seafarers’ vessel, on arriving in Aberdeen, was required within two days to go back out to another location in the North Sea to carry out an oil exploration contract.

Deacon Doug contacted local priest Fr Gábor, and although it was his day off, he was delighted that he was able to help out by carrying out the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the port. Utilising full Covid PPE, the seafarers went into the rear of the Stella Maris ‘People Carrier’ vehicle, with Fr Gábor sitting in the front, listening to them. Following each Confession, the vehicle was fully sanitised. The seafarers were delighted that their needs were met at such short notice and confirmed that the Lord had truly provided for them.

Also at the Port of Aberdeen, having been on location in the North Sea for the past three weeks, a survey vessel with five Filipinos on board, requested a visit from one of our local port chaplains. Rev Doug was again on hand to help out. One seafarer, Raymond, made a request for a Benedictine medal and three sets of rosary beads for his wife and two children. The man was delighted when he received the items, as well as an icon of the Holy Family, which he was going to display in his cabin. In addition to the items requested, warm clothes, gloves and toiletries were distributed to the seafarers.


Port: Tees (North-east England)… Crew members from the MV Kaszuby bulk carrier ship, were chatting to our chaplain for Tees and Hartlepool, Deacon Peter Barrigan, and mentioned that their next port of call was in Finland, where temperatures were forecast to be heading down to -17c!

Deacon Peter said that he had a supply of warm clothing from woolly hats to woolly socks and everything in between and they were welcome to it. The two crew members said they would be happy to accept the items, but could they also take some for other crew members?… to which the answer was of course, “Yes, help yourselves!”. Peter gave them the gifts, including a welcome/welfare pack, which had been prepared by a Stella Maris volunteer, and the crew were very appreciative.

Ports: Glasgow, Greenock and Grangemouth… Elsewhere, in February, Deacon Joe O’Donnell was able to distribute some gifts for crew member of the ‘Azamara Journey’ cruise ship, berthed in Glasgow. Deacon Joe also handed rosaries, medals and prayer cards to crew of the ‘Elbspirit’ container ship, who were in Greenock. And whilst paying a visit to the ‘Ragna’ container ship docked at Grangemouth, Joe was also able to give one of the cooks onboard a rosary and prayer card.


Ports: Tees and Hartlepool… Chaplain Deacon Peter Barrigan made a visit to the ‘Containerships VII’ vessel; delivering a welcome pack containing books, magazines, warm clothes, socks, faith items (including small bottles of holy water), and a few bars of chocolates. Peter also delivered top-ups for the crew members’ mobile phones.

Regarding the current situation, Deacon Peter commented: “It’s difficult to conduct a visit these days with the restrictions due to Covid-19, but it’s still important to attend as and when we can. Even though we can’t board the vessel and the meeting takes place on a freezing-cold quayside, the crews still like to see us and have a chat”.

Peter’s visit was very much appreciated, as he received the following message via email the next day, from the ship’s Chief Cook, Joseph: “Dear Sir Peter. We really appreciate yesterday. More power to you and to Stella Maris. Keep in touch, God Bless.”

Ports: East Anglia and Haven… In mid-January, Chaplain Julian Wong received 500 copies of bibles at his door. Francis, a Stella Maris supporter, had kindly sent the bibles to Julian, to be given to seafarers at ports throughout East Anglia. Julian started handing them over to seafarers the very next day; giving out 40 copies. The following morning, he had handed out another 60 copies before 10am. The seafarers were very pleased to receive them. In response to Julian thanking Francis for the donation, Francis simply replied “Don’t thank me, thank God”. Well, God is good and so is Francis.

Julian also asked Joshwa, one of the seafarers (see photo below), to write his prayer request for him, so that Julian could pray for him. He wrote his request as well as the Apostle Creed! God indeed is good. Amen

Ports: Blyth, Tyne & Sunderland… Elsewhere, as the New Year commenced amid continued Coronavirus restrictions, Chaplain Paul Atkinson continued his visits to seafarers at Ports in Blyth, Tyne & Sunderland – delivering much-appreciated gifts and faith resources.