Just before Christmas, our East Anglia regional port chaplain Julian Wong facilitated a last-minute day trip into London for the Ukrainian captain of a container vessel. Fast forward to March, and the captain brought his vessel back into Felixstowe.
His wife and daughter were fleeing war-torn Ukraine and desperately seeking accommodation in Poland. Julian met the captain again and informed him that that Fr Edward Pracz, Stella Maris Poland national director, had opened a refugee centre in Gdynia for seafarers and their families.
The captain immediately rang Fr Edward who confirmed he could accommodate the family. He then contacted his wife and daughter who made their way to Gdynia to join 50 other seafarers and their families under Fr Edward’s wing.
A great story in itself – but it doesn’t end there. Late last month, the captain’s ship was scheduled to call in Hamburg, Germany, so arrangements were made for the captain to be reunited with his family in port.
The captain’s family drove nearly 9 hours across Poland and Germany to Hamburg, where port chaplain Monica Döring from Stella Maris Hamburg Catholic seafarers’ mission had arranged overnight accommodation for them.
The next morning Monica drove them into the port to be on the quayside as the captain guided his vessel in. They were then reunited after 7 months apart and were able to spend a joyous day and night together as a family again before the vessel departed the following day.
In an often very dark world, Stella Maris’s international network helps to ensure small rays of light shine through on seafarers and their families.