A Mass was held in the Cathedral of St Mary & St Helen, Brentwood to commemorate the feast of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Stella Maris and to pray for seafarers and the ministry of Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) which provides spiritual and practical support to seafarers.
Bishop Alan Williams was the main celebrant and was assisted by priests from the Diocese. Fr Paul Dynan, parish priest of Our Lady & St Joseph and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Tilbury – which celebrates its centenary this year – gave the homily.
In the Diocese of Brentwood, AoS, through its network of port chaplains and ship visitors support seafarers arriving at ports such as Tilbury, London Gateway and Harwich.
In his homily Fr Paul recalled how recently, after returning from his holidays, he opened his email inbox to find a request for a Catholic priest to visit a young seafarer on board a ship which was in port for a few days.
After visiting the ship, the seafarer told Fr Paul he was feeling better and much relieved, and without any prompting said how grateful he and his seafaring colleagues are for the tremendous support they receive when they come into ports from AoS.
He added that parishioners from Our Lady Star of the Sea used to welcome and meet seafarers personally in the past when ships docked in port for weeks.
However, many seafarers spend little time ashore these days because of quick vessel turnaround times.
“We need to constantly remind ourselves of the huge debt of thanks we owe to seafarers. They and their families are continuously in our thoughts and prayers,” said Fr Paul.
The Mass held on September 20th, was attended by AoS Port Chaplain Patricia Ezra, AoS supporters, volunteers, trustees, head office staff and local parishioners.