Apostleship of the Sea's (AoS) port chaplains and volunteer ship welfare visitors from the South Coast of England were commissioned during a Mass to mark the feast of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Stella Maris held in St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth on 19th September.
Two port chaplains, Deacon Roger Stone and Peter Morgan, were commissioned along with 18 ship visitors.
Portsmouth's Bishop Philip Egan was the main celebrant and six priests concelebrated.
In his homily Bishop Egan spoke about the work of AoS’ port chaplains and ship visitors in the ports of Portsmouth, Southampton, Poole and the South Coast.
“Yours is a truly evangelistic ministry, showing the love of Jesus to all, offering the Gospel of salvation, presenting the Catholic faith in practice,” he said.
Bishop Egan urged the congregation – made up of AoS supporters, parishioners and pupils from St George Catholic College Southampton – to pray for the thousands of seafarers who work in, visit or sail from the ports on the South Coast.
“We pray for their safety and eternal salvation. Modern shipping methods mean that many of these workers come from India, the Philippines, Poland, the Americas, and are thus fellow-Catholics, far away from home, for many months without the sacraments, often low-paid and in need.
He added, “This is why in this Mass we also ask God’s blessing on the work of AoS, which offer spiritual, pastoral and practical support to seafarers.”
Speaking about Stella Maris, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Bishop Egan said, “The Blessed Mother has always been close to seafarers. The first-ever Marian prayer, the Sub Tuum Praesidium, was written by Roman sailors: We fly to your protection, O holy Mother of God. Despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O glorious, blessed Virgin.
“It is a beautiful prayer, one that in this Mass, we should make our own. So let’s ask the Lord to protect all who live and work at sea. Let’s ask Him to bless the work of the AoS.”
* More photos can be see on our Flickr site here.